You book a lesson and get allocated an instructor.
An instructor is an instructor is an instructor, right? Surely any one of them can teach you all you need to know?
Well, to a point, yes. But…
An instructor’s nationality can make a difference. Quite apart from any cultural differences, the qualification systems of ski instructing vary from nation to nation.
Although all good skiing is good skiing, not all nationalities share the same technical approach and terminology. If you’ve always skied with, and had success with, instructors from a certain country, you might find the different approach of another nationality doesn’t work for you.
Equally, if it hasn’t always been successful, you might find a change in the nationality of your instructor helps.
Although presenting the fundamentals of teaching the basic progression of skiing should be straightforward to all instructors, there are definitely specialist areas of higher end technique that some instructors cater to more than others. An instructor with a background / qualification in alpine racing will obviously provide better training in giant slalom technique, but you might not choose this instructor if you’re looking to improve your freestyle or park skills. If you’re after a specific type of lesson or to learn something specific, then yes, you might need a specific instructor.
Even if you’re after general technique improvements in your piste skiing (when any instructor should be able to do the nuts and bolts of the job), you’ll still find some will work better for you than others. In case you’re thinking you just want an instructor with patience, this is a virtue that it’s hard to ski instruct without. Asking for a ski instructor who has patience is like asking for a dentist who has a drill. There are many other attributes you might also want to think about when choosing your instructor. For instance, you could request an instructor with empathy, enthusiasm or experience.
What are their past/other experiences
An instructor’s experiences will shape their abilities too. You could request an instructor who has a lot of experience skiing with children or who knows the ins and outs of the ski area and village particularly well. If you’ve had an injury and you’re nervous about getting back on skis, you could request an instructor who has gone through a similar recovery?
You could even request an instructor you think you might have the best chairlift chat with. Maybe you choose an instructor that shares other sporting interests or comes from the same home town? The connection you make with your instructor is really important to how receptive you might be to learn and the environment best suited to improving your skiing and confidence.
Ski school booking processes
You’d be surprised how many schools have a priority system for lesson allocation such that the longest standing instructors get given lessons to teach first regardless of which clients are booking those lessons. Matching the goals and personalities of clients with the skills and personalities of instructors is something we pride ourselves on doing well at Summit. We will likely choose a different instructor for a nervous, middle aged person than we would for an excited teenager. Even if they were both at the same level technically.
Essentially, we want you to ski with the right instructor for you rather than the next instructor in line. Be sure to give as much information as possible when booking to allow us to do this even better.
Yes, all ski instructors know the basics and can teach you to ski, but to really get the most out of your lessons, think about finding one that matches you and is best suited to help you achieve your goals.