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Ski schools are only as good as the instructor you get!!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm a big fan of ski instruction. I'm also a big fan of private lessons.

Unfortunately, I've gone a bit off both following my trip to Courchevel last week. Well, that might be exaggerating slightly, but I think in future I will try to ensure I get an instructor for whom I've received a recommendation (rather than just accepting whomever the ski school offer).

Last year I had a clinic (two small group lessons) and a private 1-2-1 with New Generation in Courchevel. Both were very impressive, with the private lesson probably falling into the excellent category. Therefore, I had no hesitation in booking three private lessons with them again this year (except a quick PM to a snowHead to check if there was anybody I should avoid / aim for – sadly all recommendations weren’t available).

To cut a long story short, the lessons didn't live up to my expectations or hopes. They weren't exactly bad, but at over 400 odd euros, I certainly wouldn't classify them as good VFM. The instructor had excellent English, but lacked the nuances that come naturally to native speakers - I've heard this criticism before and discounted it, but from first hand experience, I can assure everyone that it is essential to have someone who can explain in great detail what you're doing right/wrong and what you should be doing (and how to do it). The instructor simply couldn't manage it.

To be honest, I felt that my skiing at the end of the set of lessons was probably slightly worse than when I started, however I felt that I knew what I was doing wrong and broadly what I needed to be doing to fix it. I suspect the instructor deconstructed my skiing somewhat and didn't completely get round to reconstructing it afterwards. Fortunately, he did leave me the tools to (kind of) finish the job afterwards. Still, the previous year, I had my skiing similarly destroyed/rebuilt over two clinic lessons that resulted in a significant improvement in my skiing – so I don’t know what went wrong this time.

I was continually giving feedback to the instructor when I understood something or didn’t. However, this didn’t seem to alter his tempo / style of instruction at all. If I couldn’t get what he was saying, he’d just move onto some other point.

I’ll be the first to admit that it must be harder to teach someone the more they progress. However, I’m hardly a great skier, so there is still a lot for me to improve on. If last year, I could improve significantly over the course of two three hour clinic sessions (with four/five other pupils taking part), how come I couldn’t noticeably improve over the course of three two hour private lessons?

The most positive thing I can say about the lessons is that I came away knowing what I was doing wrong. Clearly that’s better than not knowing, but is it worth 400+ Euros? I’m wondering why I couldn’t seem to improve my skiing – is it my fault? Should I be more receptive? I don’t really understand, since I’ve had a fair few lessons (mostly private) before and feel as if I’ve got a huge amount out of them.

Ironically, last Friday NewGen had a big party to celebrate receiving an award for Best Ski School 2004 (or something similar). I’m guessing I’m a one-off dissatisfied customer. I’m not really unhappy with the level or quality of tuition, but at the price I did expect something more. Perhaps I’m being unreasonable.

So, to summarise, the ski school is only as good as the instructor you actually receive. It’s clearly essential that schools with good reputations only hire good instructors, although I guess it can take a season for them to weed out ones that are underperforming (although my instructor had been there for two seasons already). Instead of recommending ski schools for private tuition, perhaps we should be recommending specific instructors?
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I should probably add as a postscript that I'm not criticising NewGen per se. As a ski school grows, I realise that it becomes harder and harder to ensure you maintain your early standards. I have used NewGen on three occasions and been very happy on two of them. I’d probably still recommend them to others with the caveat of checking which instructor you have. Indeed, the instructor I had may have been excellent for beginners or early intermediates – I don’t know, because I wasn’t asking him for that kind of instruction.

I didn’t want to appear that I was slating a whole group on the basis of one unsatisfactory experience.
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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?
Masopa, I started a thread called "how do you know a ski teacher's any good" after a similar experience in Zermatt before Christmas. It initiated some interesting discussion about how to asess teachers before you part with your cash.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
I had the good fortune to spend the week before last skiing with Tom Saxlund, one of the directors of NewGen - indeed, on the basis of that week I was wondering whether we could entice them to set up shop in "The Shops". Why don't you drop him an email detailing your concerns? I'm sure he would wish to be aware of any possible problems with matching instructors to pupils that there might be.
snow conditions     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Alan Craggs, I've fired a very brief summary of my comments via their online feedback system. Don't have Tom's email so will wait till I hear back through the usual channels. If there's no joy then I'll definitely consider passing comments on to him. As I said, I'm only pointing out one less than ideal experience rather than slagging them off.

If I were in their position, I'd prefer to have some form of constructive criticism if things aren't 100%...
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You'll need to Register first of course.
masopa, if you "don't get no" satisfaction let me know and I'll drop him a line Cool
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
We'll wait and see!!!
ski holidays     
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I applaud your approach to your experience, but I can't help feeling that it would've been more helpful to both you and New Gen if you'd raised these points with them on the first day they arose (assuming this was before the end of your "course" of lessons).

You needn't even have dealt directly with the instructor - I would imagine the school management wouldn't mind you talking it over with them at the end of that day's lessons. Obviously a degree of patience, charm, good manners, and steely determination would be required on your part to ensure a "better" instructor (or at least another one) was allocated to you for the rest of your lessons. Putting up with the problem and waiting until you go home before you do anything about it is just plain silly.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
"As a ski school grows, I realise that it becomes harder and harder to ensure you maintain your early standards"

Which is exactly why I won't become a ski school - ever!

masopa, Sorry to hear about your experience. Crying or Very sad
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Manda, I did consider raising it, but to be honest, I thought to be fair I'd give him another day to see whether he got better. And of course, the second day was the best of the bunch so I decided to stick him out. Needless to say, the third lesson however was worse again.

Typical!!


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Thu 27-01-05 16:57; edited 1 time in total
ski holidays     
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Just to add a differing view.... To teach someone effectively you need to commuicate well. I've not yet met anyone who can communicate well with everyone, sometimes people just don't gell.

Last week in Meribel, if you'd asked me on Sunday or Monday, on the hill, I would have said the instructor I had was rubbish. By Friday, I'd worked out what he (we?) wanted, and improved more in week than I've done since the late 80s.

Just being devils advocate....
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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.
I would say that Lessons are only as good as the instructor you get. I would go on recommendation of the instructor first, and the ski school second.
snow conditions     
 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
ski, that was what I was trying to get across with my third to last paragraph. I understand that the instructor in question is generally well regarded - perhaps our communication (both his and mine) wasn't quite up to the job?

Anyway, I've had a good lengthy conversation with one of the Directors of NewGen (who contacted me pro-actively, rather than me having to phone them). My concerns were alleviated and he certainly seem to take the positive criticism I was (trying) to give very well and seriously. My next job is to get out to Courchevel again this season so I can have my fourth (and best?!) set of lessons with NewGen to set the record straight!

At the end of the day, pretty much any customer-serving organisation will receive a complaint. How they react to that complaint (and attempt to ensure it doesn't happen again) is what differentiates the good and the bad. I'm pleased to say that NewGen seems to be the former, so that together with my other good experiences means I would recommend them to others...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
ski, I agree. I feel terrible if I don't feel I've "got together" with a particular student, of if I feel they weren't happy with the lessons. I've never actually had a complaint since I started Easiski, but there may be a first time (I hope not).

Unfortunately, sometimes you're just not on the same wavelength as some people, or maybe (not Masopa) they don't actually want to learn (it happens), or they really want to be flattered, or they just wanted a guide but said they wanted a lesson ------ lots of possibilities.

Funny old job. Puzzled
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
easiski, makes it 'fun' tho - don't it? wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
ski, Shocked
ski holidays     
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Hi everyone,
I am one of the directors of New Generation ski school. I have been visiting the snowheads site and forums for some months now, and I am finding it increasingly useful as a way to find out what people think about us. We do encourage our clients to give us feedback via our website, but the Snowheads site is a valuable additional tool to find out how we are 'really' doing.

I know my colleague Ali has contacted Masopa directly, so I hope this will allow us improve our reputation on your next visit. Ali and I have discussed the comments about us in this thread and we are actively looking at ways we can use the feedback to help our ski school and our team continue to improve.

We truly believe that the quality of communication is at the heart of good instruction/coaching. An issue most British outfits like us have is that there is a shortage of native British instructors. In addition, 'foreign' ski schools in France are not normally allowed to take on anyone apart from the highest qualified instructors (BASI 1's, French Moniteur Nationals or equivalent). As we have grown we have come up against the dilemma: Do we continue to grow and 'train' non-British instructors 'our way' of teaching; or do we stay small? To meet the demand we have decided to grow, but only at the rate at which we find excellent instructors. Every season we run an ongoing training programme and we discuss the issues raised in client feedback and how to make things better. I will continue to read the Snowheads forums and would be delighted to hear from anyone who has particular thoughts on how we should develop.
snow conditions     
 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?
Tom from NewGen, good to have you on snowHeads snowHead

I was impressed with the private lesson I had in Courchevel last year...but as I don't normally have lessons, I don't hae a benchmark to compare it against.
ski holidays     
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Tom from NewGen, welcome to Snowheads. And thanks for showing your hand (as it were). Sometimes when I post on this site I feel like we're merely gossiping amongst ourselves, so it's nice to know that our words are helping improve the world in which we ski!

And "Ha!" - cause I knew ski schools cruised this site Toofy Grin Toofy Grin Toofy Grin
.....and if they don't, then they should! Laughing Laughing Laughing
Yay Snowheads!
ski holidays     
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Tom from NewGen, Hi Tom, thanks for the input - it's nice to see you care enough to go into it in such detail, and indeed to start posting on here.

It's a two way gate though, we'd be delighted to hear your views on any of the issues that bounce round here from time to time.

Welcome to snowHeads snowHead
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
Tom from NewGen, Welcome, congrats to your outfit on a visibly positive approach. Your colleague Ali, did he used to be particularly green fingered? Smile
ski holidays     
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Tom from NewGen, Welcome to Snowheads. We've got a few ski teachers on here, so don't be shy with your opinions - discussion is good for the soul (or something like that). snowHead
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