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Adult total beginner in large group of intermediates and above – tips? Solutions?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I think you are worrying about nothing.

He is an adult, and you are too.
He will have lessons in the morning and then you can have lunch with him. Tell him after lunch that you are going to ski the mountain and he should practice what he learnt in the morning. Make sure you meet him for a beer when you have finished.
Chances are he will be on nursery slopes with guys from his beginner groups so won’t be alone, but he has to understand that it’s your holiday too.
Just chill out, if he doesn’t like it he doesn’t have to come next year, but at least you can make sure he can enjoy apres with his mates.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
We were in La Thuile last season and a friend took a short private lesson one morning. Very cheap, I can't remember how much but it was unbelievably cheap.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Imo, you've had some excellent advice so far (as usual here Laughing ).

As someone who took his first ski holiday aged 39 in a group with 6 intermediate (or much better) and 1 one weeker, I was extremely lucky that a very good mate of mine (who was going out with the one weeker) chose to give up his afternoons all week to ski with us; without that I'm sure I wouldn't have made the progress, or had the enjoyment, that I had that week. I managed reds by the end of the week, not particularly elegantly, but I could get down them. It meant the Friday (without ski school) could be spent largely with the group (most of them, for the most part at least), sometimes adjusting routes so me and the one weeker had an alternative route that one or the others took with us to reach the next lift or 2.

A couple of points I would particularly echo. Firstly, as others have said, really stress to him that he'll get so much more out of the holiday (which, lets be honest, will never be particularly cheap) if he can find the time to get a couple of visits to a fridge before you get away. Yes, it's not essential (I had a couple of dry slope visits which, in all honesty, didn't compare very well to the real thing), but, having been to snow domes since, he will really really benefit from going and will make much better progress when he's away.

Another thing others have touched on is that his general attitude and willingness to embrace skiing (and, in part, his general sports aptitude and base fitness) will also likely affect the progress he makes (and thus his ability to ski with you/your friends). I know that's a huge generalisation, but I do feel that if he's generally a fairly sporty guy he's got a lot more chance of making better progress, if for no other reason than he's likely to be able to stay out longer in the afternoons practicing what he's learned that morning (finishing at 3pm rather than say 4.30 amounts to a whole extra day by the end of the week). Don't forget, learning to ski (and constantly fighting gravity) is damn hard work, so a good level of base fitness will be a definite plus.

If one of you does agree to ski with him each afternoon (maybe on a kinda rota basis) then, as others have said, very useful to try to get him to be able to read a piste map or at least ask the instructer where he's been so that you cn get a feel for where he's been skiing, especially for the first few days. Once you get a feel for how he is or isn't progressing you may decide on a few other runs later in the week, but practicing technique on runs his instructor is happy for him to be on for the first few afternoons will likely reap benefits later on.

Finally, I would say it's worth looking at what you might want to do on the last, ski lesson free day, relatively early on in the week. If there's more difficult terrain some of you might want to explore, then maybe try and get that out of the way earlier in the week, unless there are easier routes to the same destination. I don't know La Thuile, but if there are sectors with alternate routes from one lift to another (so the newbie can ski down an easier route with one or two of you while others ski an alternative piste), then that would be a good idea to include on that last day imo.

I'm sure, especially if he's very keen to go skiing as you say, that he'll have a great time, and hopefully you all will as well.
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Quote:

If one of you does agree to ski with him each afternoon (maybe on a kinda rota basis) then, as others have said, very useful to try to get him to be able to read a piste map or at least ask the instructer where he's been so that you cn get a feel for where he's been skiing, especially for the first few days. Once you get a feel for how he is or isn't progressing you may decide on a few other runs later in the week, but practicing technique on runs his instructor is happy for him to be on for the first few afternoons will likely reap benefits later on.

That^

NEVER say "you can do that just fine" and take a beginner to a new piste he's never been during his lesson!

Most people are not very good at gauging what a beginner can or can not do. Even if it's the same "colour", it may have other "issues" like crowd, condition or just one tiny section that's steeper than the rest, which looks to a beginner like a "cliff" that would lead to certain death!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I can't really add to the ecxellent advice already offered but I can recount the my first week's skiing which might be helpful as it includes some of the themes already covered..

Myself and my mate were 40 year-old complete beginners (except for one dry-slope session) when we went to Morzine with 5 experienced skiers. The two of us had group lessons booked for the first 5 mornings and had no expectation that we would spend any time with the others actually skiing (lunch and apres, yes - but not skiing). We absolutely bloody loved it from the first minute and spent the afternoons of days 1 & 2 plodding up & down on an easy run used in the lessons. Neither of us was making exactly stellar progress but that didn't matter - we just loved it.
After lunch on day 3, the rest of the group suggested we could ski back down to town (instead of downloading) as 'it's only an easy blue'; they had all 'taught the kids to ski on this hill'; they could 'ski this one backwards', etc - so we agreed. It was a disaster with my mate & me both unable to deal with the terrain - suddenly looking down a wide open slope was terrifying and we both fell several times. I was lucky and reached the bottom somewhat shaken but uninjured; (we think) my mate cracked a couple of ribs and didn't ski again till the final day of the trip.
I spent the next couple of mornings in ski school and afternoons on my own, scared half to death, even by the slope we had enjoyed so much earlier in the week but by the end of day 5 I was just about back to where I had been at lunchtime on day 3 while the rest of the class had been progressing nicely.
On the final day, with no ski school, we eventually decided to head out towards Supermorzine and Avoriaz as a group. After a couple of hours, my mate had to give in and head home; I managed to stick with the rest of the group (who certainly chose easy routes and skied slowly for my benefit) and we covered some miles - for those who know the area, we reached the Pointe de somethingorother on the Swiss border above Les Lindarets. It was a fantastic day which I'll never forget.

The moral of the story: I survived the group's well-meaning attempts to teach us on day 3 and was lucky that I was able to go with them on the final day of the trip which cemented my absolute love of skiing.
I persuaded my mate to give it a go and we went to Les Arcs the following year; I spent one of the best weeks of my life scooting around in the sunshine with ski school and then with others from the class and have skiied every year since (and wish I could ski more often) while my mate was petrified, gave up at lunchtime on day two and has never skiied again.
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@Red Leon, That's fascinating... Really interesting and valuable for us to hear of those experiences and their subsequent affects on you both. snowHead
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
red 27 wrote:
@Red Leon, That's fascinating... Really interesting and valuable for us to hear of those experiences and their subsequent affects on you both. snowHead


Thanks, although I think 'fascinating' may be pushing it a bit Toofy Grin

I hoped it would show the dangers of encouraging beginners to venure onto new terrain before they are ready for it and how much of a difference it can make to the beginner's experiences. The events of day 3 set me back a bit but it effectively killed off my mate's early love of skiing whereas the final day's outing showed me what skiing was really like. Without that experience, I suspect I would not have continued to ski and would have been denied something I have now loved for 17 years
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Easily the most exhausting thing for a beginner on a nursery slope is getting up again after falling over.

Best thing is to do is, whilst on the floor, reach back & unclip one ski and simply stand up. Sooo much easier than trying to get up than pushing myself up from a near flat surface.

I learnt at age 50, the only beginner in a group of 4, and did my crappy ESF class in the mornings and then practiced like a demon on greens in the afternoon. On Day 4, I had a private lessson in the afternoon for 2 hrs and then I was parallel skiing(shakily) down blues on Day 5 & 6.

If he really throws himself into it, he will have fun. Would recommend a fridge visit before he goes. (I never did so you don't have to but it would help)
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
@Red Leon, interesting. Similar experience for me last year, but on the other side of the coin.

The guy I mentioned in my post above was effectively a first week level skier and quite low on confidence. His skiing was alright though and his confidence had built to a level where we felt he was more than capable of a blue run which the rest of us were skiing every morning as a warm up. So mid-week we set off with him to do this run before his lesson (for those who know the area, it's from Avoriaz down to the base of the Prodains gondola, a couple of slightly steeper sections but all with good run out). The inital bit through the town to the top of the gondola was fine, as was the narrower section at the top with the rocks on the left. But as soon as we got to the first pitch he looked at us in horror and said "you must be f***ing kidding me". I genuinely have not seen anyone so terrified of a run, I was convinced he was going to unclip and walk back up. After some encouraging words we managed to get him moving, gently snaking down behind us and after that initial pitch he skied the rest of the run fairly easily (he may have fallen once or twice, I can't really remember). At the bottom he was drained while the rest of us, including my old man who is approaching 70 and only took up skiing after retiring, we just getting ready to start the day.

And while my mate is now super keen to return, I can easily see how that one run could have put him off skiing for life. Thanks to the words and effort of some of the group he actually made it through the run well and thanked us for it later (just not at the time), but potentially we could have ruined skiing for him (and then he could have thanked us for all the money we'd saved him).

BTW, I maintain that he was ready for the run from a technical point of view, just we hadn't appreciated just how nervous he was.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
@Red Leon, Was taken by friends down a carved-up slushy blue in the afternoon on Day 2!! My friend said he was sure I fell down more times than I got up! Baptism of fire!! Was so glad to get to the bottom...... Laughing
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
The danger with skiing on terrain that is too steep for you, technically or psychologically, is that you get down by developing survival skills rather than skiing skills. Ski too often with survival skills rather than skiing skills and they become permanent, which sooner or later will inhibit further progress in your skiing ambitions.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Another idea would be to find a mountain restaurant on a blue run as a base for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Your beginner mate can hopefully do some simple laps, practicing what he's been taught. But with the option to take a rest and have a beer / hot chocolate / snack at any point. The rest of you can do bigger laps circuits but swing by and join the beginner for the home run or download. Just takes a bit of planning and communication.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
rob@rar wrote:
Ski too often with survival skills rather than skiing skills and they become permanent, which sooner or later will inhibit further progress in your skiing ambitions.


'Ere. Have you been spyin' on me?? wink
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Red Leon, Laughing

We've all done it. I speak from personal experience as much as anything else.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
rob@rar wrote:
The danger with skiing on terrain that is too steep for you, technically or psychologically, is that you get down by developing survival skills rather than skiing skills. Ski too often with survival skills rather than skiing skills and they become permanent, which sooner or later will inhibit further progress in your skiing ambitions.


Very true...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
rob@rar wrote:
The danger with skiing on terrain that is too steep for you, technically or psychologically, is that you get down by developing survival skills rather than skiing skills. Ski too often with survival skills rather than skiing skills and they become permanent, which sooner or later will inhibit further progress in your skiing ambitions.
Nobody intentionally take a beginner down something he's not ready for.

The problem, I maintain, is majority of proficient skier who are not instructors are simply rubbish at judging whether a beginner is ready for or not!

Even when a beginner is technically proficient for a certain slope, he may lack the experience to employ his technique for the particular situation. Unless you have the experience to couch a beginner down something he's never done before, the result is rarely good. Best to let the beginner to choose where he feels comfortable to ski.

And to be fair, it also applies to non-beginners too. Never downplay the level of difficulty even when you can ski it blindfolded! I don't ever cohorts an intermediate to get on a black run, or even an advance skier on a run with some tricky section. I would explain what's there. But the decision have to be theirs. It makes a huge difference in their reaction when they get to the tricky bits.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@abc, I'm not so sure. I know that I've benefited personally from being outside of my comfort zone, if I'd been left to my own devices then I wouldn't have improved. I agree with Rob that forcing people to do this too often can see a development of survival skiing as 'normal', but I also think it's important to be pushed. E.g when I first had a proper crack at off piste I spent 45 minutes falling over every turn or two. This made me more determined and I sought out off piste lessons and made more effort to ski soft stuff. It's still work in progress, as I believe my skiing always will be, but I've advance a long, long way from that day.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
abc wrote:
Nobody intentionally take a beginner down something he's not ready for.

The problem, I maintain, is majority of proficient skier who are not instructors are simply rubbish at judging whether a beginner is ready for or not!
Sure, although I was thinking more of inexperienced skiers who take themselves down steep terrain rather than beginners being taken down steep slopes by well meaning, but also inexperienced friends. Whatever the reason, the outcome is likely to be the development of bad habits.
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SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
... I know that I've benefited personally from being outside of my comfort zone ...
Absolutely right. Necessary, and should be rewarding. But there's a balance to be sought where a skier is stretched by being outside of their comfort zone and skis well, or a skier is stretched and skis badly because they're too far outside of their 'skill zone'.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
rob@rar wrote:

Sure, although I was thinking more of inexperienced skiers who take themselves down steep terrain rather than beginners being taken down steep slopes by well meaning, but also inexperienced friends. Whatever the reason, the outcome is likely to be the development of bad habits.

I totally agree with your point of repeatedly throwing themselves down terrain too steep for their skill are recipe for development of bad habits.
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I recon skiing is at least 60% confidence - which is slow to build and can be gone in an instant. 4 or 5 days of good progress can be undone in one run, down something inappropriate.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
SnoodlesMcFlude wrote:
@abc, I'm not so sure. I know that I've benefited personally from being outside of my comfort zone, if I'd been left to my own devices then I wouldn't have improved. I agree with Rob that forcing people to do this too often can see a development of survival skiing as 'normal', but I also think it's important to be pushed.

So you're the type who wouldn't push yourself out of your comfort zone "if left to your own device". Fair then. You would benefit by "being pushed". Perhaps different for different people...

Quote:

E.g when I first had a proper crack at off piste I spent 45 minutes falling over every turn or two. This made me more determined and I sought out off piste lessons and made more effort to ski soft stuff.

I found that a terrible example of how one should be motivated to improve!

Wouldn't a suggestion of taking an off-piste lesson BEFORE throwing yourself down a long off-piste run be more helpful? Or do you think you wouldn't have taken such suggestion without the 45 minutes of falling over every turn? snowHead

Perhaps more helpful to the OP of this thread, then. I for one wouldn't want to be the one who did the pushing, AND ended up waiting for 45 minutes watching you falling over every turn! I guess it served your mates right! Toofy Grin

I vaguely recall in one of the snowhead bash some years ago, a group of us decided to take a "shortcut" of un-groomed, no more than 10 turns at worst, on our way to some "easy off-piste". Well, one snowhead was falling over like twice in that little shortcut stretch! Fortunately, it only took 5 minutes for him to pick himself back up and back into his skis. We quickly decided to take separate routes that meet up at the bottom. I shudder to think had we taken our mate with us onto the much longer stretch, we would have been there all morning! Sad


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 12-12-19 17:32; edited 1 time in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Don't underestimate how tough the first 3 or 4 days are for beginners. If they're not knackered by 3pm after ski school and a few runs after lunch they're not trying hard enough Smile

Personally I enjoy skiing with people a couple of afternoons on the beginner slope, usually cruising on the green while they practice and usually lapping them on each run, have a chat at the top, they do a run, I just cruise with them for a bit then loop round and usually meet them at the bottom. Good if you are on the lift above them and you can watch them skiing.

That tends to last about 90 mins before they are either knackered enough to either go for a drink or back to base, at that point either get the lift and blast the last few runs or go for a beer, if you've been on it all morning while they're in ski school that is plenty for me.
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