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Lessons, practicing new skills, proper well tuned skis, boots that fit properly and logging thousands of miles are the major essentials to becoming a better skier. For the remainder of this column the focus is on finding the right private lesson pro.

Doesn’t matter what the sport, everyone benefits from taking a lesson now and then. Pros in all sports take lessons and/or have a coach. Your progress will be impeded and hit a brick wall without lessons periodically.

All sports have teaching professionals and the lessons with these pros are expensive.

Finding that professional is not easy. You may have to try several pros before there is a connection. A referral is the best way to get hooked up with a tested pro. Talk to your friends that have taken lessons and get a recommendation. Ask the locals, check with the technicians in your favorite rental/tuning shops, for a recommendation. This can help insure you are hooked up with the cream of the crop. You could also pick a pro over the internet on the Ski School website. Listed are the participating pros with backgrounds, type lessons taught, years of experience and additional comments. If you don’t use any of the above options then you must rely on the school and the coordinator to get you matched with the right pro, making an over the phone interview especially important. The more information you can provide, your wants and needs, the better equipped the coordinator will be to hook you up.

What traits should you look for in the ideal teaching professional?

Experience, experience, experience-a time tested pro with full certification, adaptability, long time local and teaches up to date contemporary skiing. Pros with these traits are who you want to get hooked up with.

A successful pro doesn’t attempt to explain things in concepts but simply introduces movements and allows you to draw your own conclusions. Avoid pros that try to impress you with knowledge and big words. Your pro should teach movements, which are contemporary, easy to feel, identify and in due time master. A good teacher keeps the student focused on the same aspect of learning for an extended period, and doesn’t confuse learning by throwing in too many variations. A top pro will just change the conditions, the speed or terrain but stay focused on the movements.

Over the years my teaching philosophy has shifted from only teaching PSIA turns to coaching skiers.

Many younger less experienced pros just try to teach the “perfect turn” (according to current PSIA or ski school training gurus.) It’s not enough. My job is to help people become skier’s not robotic looking images of a programmed ski instructor. This development starts right from day one.

To help insure success the guest needs to have an idea of what they want out of this lesson. By just coming into it with a general tune idea leaves room for conflict, an unhappy customer and pro. Give the pro something specific to work on with you. Imagine taking your car to the mechanic and saying check it out and what ever it takes to fix it. This generality could prove to be a very expensive. You have to give the symptoms and let them detect the problems. First contact interviews are most important. Lots of questions should be asked by both the pro and the guest. Get involved right away.

There is no excuse for a bad private lesson unless you get hooked up with a remnant of the old style “Hans and Franz European teaching model” where the first words out of the pros mouth are, “today we will be doing everything I can do and nothing you can do”. Fortunately, there are few of these fossils left in today’s teaching world.

Two main factors can affect the outcome of the lesson, the personalities of the pro and the guest. If they both have their heads on straight there should be great results. Pros need to shed the ego and the guest needs to remember you are paying money for the advice of an expert. If you’re not satisfied with the pro or your personalities clash don’t hesitate to ask for another pro or the ski school will gladly refund your money. You repeat business is crucial to the pro and you need to be happy.

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