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What do you expect a beginner to learn in week 1 (sideline)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just back from a week in France having met 2x lovely "middle age" Yorkshire folk who've hit the slopes for the first time ever. Both novices are relatively fit given the passage of time, and keen to take up skiing as a sport, and I would have thought that by the end of the week they would be well on their way to tackling greens and easy blues with a firm if ungainly and slightly scared snowplough.

End of their ski school week, with EFS, neither had left the one and only nursery slope. Neither knew how to stand up from a fall, how to stop, how to side step (could perform a shaky snowplough on a flat green slope, and that was about it). A friend (+20yrs on skis) spent the last Saturday with these novices, and was appalled by their lack of knowledge and skill. While with our friend, one novice continually leant back and into the hill while performing her snowploughs, and would not be convinced to lean forward. She eventually injured herself.

Upon questioning the novices, it transpired that both French speaking and English speaking students were in their group and that the lesson had been conducted bilingually.

Those of us who'd seen the lack of skill acquired by these novices and heard the descriptions of the instruction, were absolutely appalled. To us it appeared as if these novices had been pretty much ignored, and that in order to gain some semblence of skiing they had tried to copy what they saw as best they could but without having received any understanding of why or how.

I'm after a really real-life solution for this situation (there's been various comments on this site about boycotting EFS and musings about how bad they are but that isn't what I mean). The novices I've just described, by definition didn't have a clue that they'd recieved (quite frankly) shite instruction in anyone's language, so how do we as more experienced english speaking skiers help them deal with ESF in requesting a refund? Which is really the only satisfactory solution in this instance.

Let me know if you've ever taken EFS on about the quality of instruction (more specifically the lack thereof) that you've received. I'm also interested in opinions from ski-instructors as to how to best deal with EFS in these kinds of situations - Easiski where are you!?


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Mon 14-02-05 19:10; edited 1 time in total
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:
The novices I've just described, by definition didn't have a clue that they'd recieved (quite frankly) shite instruction in anyone's language, so how do we as more experienced english speaking skiers help them deal with ESF in requesting a refund? Which is really the only satisfactory solution in this instance.

We have third hand reports about the standard of instruction received, we don't know how accurate the description of their skiing ability is, and as for this "more experienced skier" I would suggest that asking for refund after having not complained once during their stay would be totally silly. I've watched hundreds of lessons with ESF instructors leading first weekers around, and I've yet to see one client incapable of snowploughing at the end of the week, so I would suggest that those concerned are either exceptionally unsuited to the slopes, or that there may have been a degree of exaggeration about their lack of skill.
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PG,

Not ESF but Zermatt, which is not suitable for beginners in my opinion. But two people In know achieved about the same type of skill level as the ones Manda describes. In their case they were not ever going to be very capable but I do think they should have had more of a clue.
I got the impression the instructor gave up but of course I wasn't in the class only saw the results their 'efforts'

As for taking on the ESF I can't imagine you would ever get very far. Nobody stonewalls like the French protecting their own, rightly or wrongly.
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?????!

I didn't say that they couldn't snowplough. I said they hadn't received instruction on a number of things a novice would be expected to have been instructed on, and that at least one novice was performing a snowplough in a very dubious fashion despite a week of instruction. I even posted a similar title to Easiski's post as a point of reference.

I indeed saw their lack of skill first hand. I haven't embellished.

Bear in mind that what I said is that it a refund is the only satisfactory option. You've seen my posts on the topic of ski schools and refunds, and I agree that asking for a refund now is silly. The fact is we didn't see the lack of progress until the end of the week, after the last lesson and that's all there is to it. Had our friend or myself seen the problem earlier we would of course have acted at the time.

PG, if you have a problem with reading negative comments about EFS then please don't read them. This forum DOES tolerate what some people on this forum call "hearsay", and it's a necessary part of life.

If anyone has any constructive comments for dealing with EFS in situations like this, then I'd love to hear them.
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I do speak from a certain experience of ESF standards, as my kids have been coached by ESF-trained instructors for several months each year for the past seven years. As a director of the Les Arcs ski racing club we employ some eight instructors, six full time. The ESF is by no means above criticism, and I am most certainly not interested in defending any organisation without justification, as I'm sure most regulars here will be fully aware.

Without being present at the lessons it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to judge. There is little point debating standards of tuition without actually knowing the first thing about the instructor and his instructional technique. Personally I wouldn't dream of judging any individual or organisation simply on the strength of seeing a beginner ski badly after a few days' group tuition - whether from the ESF or an ESI affiliated organisation, or whoever.
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Gotta be with PG here....if you'd seen me ski after my first weeks tuition you'd be saying the same things.....but I can't fault the instructor, she was absolutely fab! It's just that when you're not a natural at these things panic sets in and despite having been told what to do it goes in one ear and out the other. As Manda says one of the two "could not be convinced to lean forward"....perhaps the instructor was having just the same trouble!
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If they're from Yorkshire (and I am) then they should certainly have gone to Xscape for beginner lessons before hitting a real mountain, and this would at least have guaranteed English speaking instruction. I've only seen a few beginner friends have ESF lessons (in Courchevel and Alpe d'Huez) and all did fine, but all were between 20-30 and climbers/bikers/horse riders or whatever.

Tell your friends to go along to Xscape and watch them to make sure they can link snowplows in reasonable control/position down the full length of the slope after say 4 lessons, before they go on holiday again. If they can't, they're probably going to struggle with skiing whoever is teaching them....
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We both learnt in Flaine with ESF and although hubby learnt much faster than me we both managed to ski from the top of the mountain back down to the village via the Serpentine at the end of the week. Most , if not all of the class could stop safely and turn (we didn't learn to plough much as it was the evolutif method). I grant you it took us a while to ski down, but we did it. I'd have hated it if we were stuck on the nursery slopes.
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Manda wrote:
A friend (+20yrs on skis) spent the last Saturday with these novices, and was appalled by their lack of knowledge and skill. While with our friend, one novice continually leant back and into the hill while performing her snowploughs, and would not be convinced to lean forward. She eventually injured herself.


So your clever friend who we can take is not an a qualified instructor took it upon themselves to to play at ski instructor to the point they injured the beginners? Fantastic, you all must be very proud.
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ise, I see you have been on the charm pills again rolling eyes
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Frosty the Snowman, you don't think that's an outrageous story? You can't help feeling for the poor couple involved can you?
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ise, Manda did not say her friend was clever, nor did she say that he/she gave instruction. I may be wrong but I get the impression that you like a good argument, and sometimes go looking for one.

I do feel very sorry for anyone that goes skiing for the first time and has had a bad experience as it can puy them of for life. What a waste.
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Frosty the Snowman, There's considerable irony in slating one organisation for allegedly poor tuition then admitting to the same pupil suffering an injury when you try to persuade them to alter their technique yourself. Of course it's sad that the person concerned had a bad experience, that goes without saying. I thought ise was being rather polite wink
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You know it makes sense.
PG, Pointing out to a learner that they are leaning back when they should be leaning forward is not exactly rocket scence, and with a learner it is generally always the case.
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PG wrote:
Frosty the Snowman, There's considerable irony in slating one organisation for allegedly poor tuition then admitting to the same pupil suffering an injury when you try to persuade them to alter their technique yourself. Of course it's sad that the person concerned had a bad experience, that goes without saying. I thought ise was being rather polite wink


actually I wasn't was I ? Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed

Rude and blunt though I was, I'm still pretty appalled by the story.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Still, the point stands - the injury occurred during his attempts to teach her to change her stance. I'm starting to feel rather sorry for the original ESF instructor too wink
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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C'mon chaps, are you saying that an injury would not have occured had the learner continued leaning backwards. I am a shite(have noted you get away with this word)skier and know very little about skiing instruction, but would happily try and persuade someone to try and keep weight forward rather than aft.
Are you telling me that neither of you have ever offered advice to a learning or inexperienced friend, especially on such a basic point.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
There is no evidence that the "encouragement" led to the injury. I could read it just the opposite: that she refused to/couldn't make the change and, as a result, injured herself.

Frankly, if someone I knew took a week-long lesson and wasn't able to control themselves sufficiently to ski down easy trails anywhere on the piste, I would recommend they march directly to the ski school for a full refund. There may be mitigating circumstances (such as a complete inability to translate to movement what is taught), but even so, this seems extreme by any measure. Even I (a hack ski instructor) get folks directing their skis after less than a full-day on snow (and have done with skiers from age 4 to adult). With a full week?!

Sorry, this outcome is completely unacceptable for the time and money spent in the effort.
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ssh, there are a number of reasons which could explain a lack of progress - you have given one - I can think of others. So sorry - without a great deal more information, what is unacceptable is leaping to conclusions about the standard of instruction when you neither possess all the facts, know the instructor concerned, the extent and type of tuition involved, nor the exact number of hours of instruction, etc etc.

As for your first comment, it is nonetheless a fact that the person concerned managed to remain uninjured for the full extent of the ski school tuition.
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Quote:

Are you telling me that neither of you have ever offered advice to a learning or inexperienced friend, especially on such a basic point.
just in case you missed it PG, wink
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PG, I disagree. Instruction is judged by outcome. Reasonable outcome given time spent is relatively easy for an educated judgement. I am not condemning anyone, but do not believe that any ski school anywhere would tell you that a week's lessons that lead to only barely being able to negotiate the nursery slope is acceptable. I would personally see to it that any fees were refunded for someone who only progressed that far in a week with me!

Value of instruction is determined by outcome and nothing else. I am not blaming anyone. I am, however, expressing my very strong opinion that this instruction is entirely unacceptable, and to accept payment for said is inappropriate.
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Frosty the Snowman, I was coming to that Cool I can honestly say that just about everyone I've skied with has been better than me wink ... or I've packed them off for lessons ... or I've let them get on with it. The exception was my son, then 16 ish, who after his first few lessons, came with me on a steeper run. He froze - was completely unable to apply the lessons learnt as soon as soon as there was any sort of gradient. To an onlooker he would have appeared utterly hopeless. It took me more than an hour to get him to move a few metres. My fault for thinking I knew better and could get him onto a more challenging slope - a steepish blue. He has since had a few more lessons from some real professionals (including easiski) and he hasn't looked back since.

The first week though he was utterly hopeless. He thought he was useless, he was absolutely terrified of the slightest gradient, he'd always been told he was crap at sport and had come to believe it. A week of lessons, in a group, just reinforced that belief. For some people it takes a while - it's a confidence thing. To condemn the instructor who took him for five mornings that first week would be completely unjustified, and the lad himself would be the first to say so.

He's 22 now, just finishing his MA, and looking forward to a year's sabbatical... guess where he wants to spend it wink

Finsihed the above - then read ssh's comment. Sorry ssh, my example proves you wrong. That's absolute nonsense, imo.
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Quote:

guess where he wants to spend it
Hmm...................................Middlesbrough?
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I would agree with Manda's original post that the lack of progress made by these two would seem to be disappointing after one week of instruction, and the result is not one that would have me wholeheartedly recommending that ski school from now on, and I would probably choose another ski school in future if a choice is available in the resort. I think that it is reasonable to expect better progress in one week.

However having said that, it has been my experience that some people just can't (or won't) learn how to ski, despite having the best instruction available. Some people can't seem to make the counter intuitive mental leap to good skiing, and it seems to be more common amongst those who learn in later life. We don't know which one is the case here, and without hearing direct from the people involved about what they thought about their lessons, and their lack of progress, it's impossible to say.

Ise, I don't think that it's outrageous that a more experienced skier points out that someone is sitting back in their skis, after all it's not rocket science to spot it, and if they're doing it then it should have already been pointed out to them in their lesson. There's a world of difference between teaching someone to ski, and giving them specific exercises to that end, compared to reinforcing something that they should have been told already in their lessons. It goes against human nature to not want to try to help your friends if they're having difficulty, and although the first pointer should always be "go and get some lessons", I think that once they've done that, there's no harm in giving them a few pointers if asked. After all, if you videoed them, then they would be able to see for themselves what they're doing wrong. As for the injury. injuries happen, it's a fact of skiing, and from the sounds of it, it happened because this person had bad technique, and so can't really be blamed on anyone.

PG, I think that ssh does seem to have a point in what he says, and one does assume that as a ski instructor he has the experience to back it up. To call his post "absolute nonsense" does seem to be a little inflammatory.
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Kramer, I said it was so, in my opinion. I backed it up with argument. I stand by it, as I feel it is particularly disheartening to see an instructor - whoever he/she works for - condemned without knowing anything even approaching the full circumstances. I personally would not like to have a lesson from someone who was so utterly convinced of the uniformity of the pupils under his tutelage that he assumed absolutely everyone in a group lesson could and should reach a certain standard, come what may, after a set period of time. I imagine that if the boot were on the other foot, as an instructor himself, ssh would appreciate the opportunity to defend himself before being dismissed as an inadequate teacher, on the strength of a single anecdotal account from a skier of some 4 or 5 weeks experience - and from the original post, it's not entirely clear that Manda had skied with them herself.

I based my counter argument on the example of someone who in his first week had 16 hours of group lessons from an excellent instructor in Orcières Merlette who was personally known to me, having also taught my daughter. Despite this he could barely stand up. It was a psychological thing. Ask easiski - she gave him a private lesson the following year. It was hard work, believe me, even for Charlotte!
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PG, just because you put "imo" after it, doesn't mean that it isn't inflammatory language. There are other, more polite, ways to express disagreement with someones opinion, other than to completely rubbish it.

In the rest of my post, I broadly agree with you, I don't think that it is fair to rubbish the teacher based on one hearsay example, but ssh also makes a good point, when we choose instruction, we generally do so on results, unless we have more information available to us. It may be that these two had loads of fun in their lessons, and don't really care about their perceived lack of progress, in which case I'm sure that they'll choose to return to the same ski school or instructor next holiday. However for the most part, when we choose a teacher, we generally choose one who will help us progress, if there has been inadequate progress then both teacher and pupil should take some responsibility for that. That would seem to be the point that ssh is trying to make, and it seems to be a reasonable one.

This is just a discussion about ski instruction, it's not about winning or losing, and it's not about proving someone wrong just because they happen to have a different opinion to yours.
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PG, your anecdote may be the exception that proves the rule. I would further argue that it is the job of a ski instructor to teach the students to ski. Not to keep them busy and give them drills to work on. If an instructor fails to teach that which s/he was hired to do, I would argue that they have not completed their assignment.

If an instructor has limitations in his/her ability to teach certain types of people to ski, that instructor should be able to discern that and refer them to another instructor or to their school director for reassignment. An inability or unwillingness to identify these issues is a sign of an inexperienced and/or overly confident instructor.

Again, let's remember why someone hires an instructor: to teach one to ski. If the instructor fails to do that, the instructor has not delivered the purchased service and also has not properly set expectations. I could argue that I know instructors who could have taught all three of the people discussed in this thread how to ski in one week. You could say that I was wrong. We'd not reach an agreement. But, I believe it to be true.
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ssh, I do think that there are many reasons that people choose to have ski instruction and although improving their skiing is the main one, that is not always the case. In the past I have had instruction because otherwise I would be skiing on my own, because I needed to set an example for someone else in our group, because I fancied one of the other pupils, because I fancied one of the instructors, because I wanted to be videoed carving phat lines down the slopes, and not least, because I was told that they knew where the best apres ski was. Back in the days that I did group lessons in ski school, it was far more important to me that I enjoyed it, than whether I progressed, however the two attributes do tend to go hand in hand.
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You know it makes sense.
Quote:
This is just a discussion about ski instruction, it's not about winning or losing, and it's not about proving someone wrong just because they happen to have a different opinion to yours.

Still, in a sense, that's just what you're trying to do. wink

Stating that in my opinion a view makes no sense whatsoever (nonsense), having backed that standpoint up with argument and examples, is about as inflammatory as a box of matches in a monsoon.

Other than the reasons you advance, there are numerous other possibilities why the facts may not be as presented. Therefore condemning the instruction out of hand is entirely unfair, and deserves criticism. To state "this instruction is entirely unacceptable, and to accept payment for said is inappropriate" or "they'd recieved (quite frankly) shite instruction in anyone's language", on the strength of the sparse, anecdotal information provided, having specifically named the company concerned, is close to being actionable.

Personally, as a moderator, I would be far more concerned at the extent to which a company may have been libelled in a public forum.
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PG, it doesn't matter whether you feel that the way you say something is inflammatory, what matters is the way that others perceive it. I think that calling someone elses opinion "absolute nonsense" is inflammatory, and within the context of a friendly discussion, within a friendly community, it is uncalled for, as it implies a complete lack of respect for ssh's opinion.

I don't think that people come on here for criticism, I think they come on here for a bit of fun. By all means air your differences of opinion, but it doesn't have to be an "argument" all the time does it? "Argument" implies a degree of hostility towards those of a differing opinion to yours, surely that isn't what you intend?

I'm not trying to win or prove someone wrong on this thread, and I think that in my original post it makes it clear that I see both points of view, as usual I think that the snowHeads on this thread have contributed many useful opinions.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Kramer, As I see it your logic is unworkable. Objective criteria are needed to judge what is and what is not acceptable, not how the person concerned perceives it. If someone disagrees with you, presenting a reasoned, if forceful viewpoint, debating opponents have but to present counter arguments. I believed, and still do, that certain strongly stated views showed a lack of respect, without any proven justification, for an instructor, and the standards of a named company. I felt some comments were borderline actionable. In my opinion those comments were, to borrow your words, "uncalled for".

Youy haven't addressed my concern that it is libellous to attack an individual or company without providing substantive evidence to back up opinions and criticisms, such as the suggestion the ESF tuition was sub-standard and a refund should be demanded.

Usually stating that is just "opinion" can diminish the risk, but it's a grey area. It is possible to bring a defamatory action if the comments affect an individual's or company's reputation.
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ssh, ok then - for the sake of argument, let's say that mine was "the exception that proves the rule." In that case if - as the instructor concerned - you were condemned out of hand, without right of reply, by a group of people who don't know you from Adam, perhaps with limited skiing experience, on the strength of some anecdotal accounts of observation of said skier allegedly being barely able to stand up following a week's group tuition with you... can you confirm that you would be perfectly ok with this?
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Kramer, it's the role of the instructor to determine motivation and objectives of each student and then focus on addressing them. If the instructor cannot address them, s/he needs to address that up-front.
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PG wrote:
Personally, as a moderator, I would be far more concerned at the extent to which a company may have been libelled in a public forum.
You might want to review the definition of "libel". Everything in this thread has been expressed as opinion. Opinion, at least in the courts that I know about, is and cannot be libelous. There is also a clear context for these opinions, so they cannot be taken out of context and then claimed to be libelous.
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PG, I have this "thing" about service and value. I do not charge my customers if they are at all dissatisfied with the service I render (whether they are paying my normal business consulting rates or just paying for a ski lesson). I believe to do so is to accept payment under false premise. My customers come to me and contract for my services with specific objectives in mind. It is my job to clearly determine them, communicate them so that both of us understand, and then to do my best to deliver to those expectations. If I do not do that, I have failed from the get-go. I take this very seriously as a service provider, and I believe that everyone who provides service should do the same.

If I accepted a week's instructional pay from anyone, I would fully expect them to be skiing as I mentioned earlier. If they were not, I would personally see to it that their fees were refunded--even if it was entirely due to their personal inability to apply the teaching. Because, certainly, I must not have been able to communicate, provide drills, guide, and do whatever else I could have done to bring them to the point(s) of "ah-ha!" As a result, it is, by definition, my own failing that caused the ultimate failure to meet the objectives.

Some customers find that they have achieved not what they had anticipated wanting, but something even more valuable. In this case, I usually still offer them partial (or full) refund, but they most often refuse due to the value that they took away.

Please don't try to turn this into some great legal battle. It's not. I wouldn't know an ESF or an EFS if it walked up and stepped on my foot. I do know a bit about skiing and teaching skiing, however (certainly not as much as most ski teachers, I'll grant you) and I know a lot about being a service provider and ensuring that the value that the customer receives is always more than the cost. This is the only way to sustain a services business, which I have done for quite some time.
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ssh wrote:
PG, your anecdote may be the exception that proves the rule. I would further argue that it is the job of a ski instructor to teach the students to ski. Not to keep them busy and give them drills to work on. If an instructor fails to teach that which s/he was hired to do, I would argue that they have not completed their assignment.


I struggle to see how you might genuinely beleive that. I was a climibing/caving/outdoor-pursuits instructor for a while and more recently taught some technical IT stuff. From this I know there's a whole variety of ways that people learn or don't learn and reasons why. In terms of the people we seem to be talking they're described as middle-aged (although how much of this story is accurate is anyones guess) where there's some inertia to overcome in the learning process.

The story above, and I don't doubt we'll see another version of it later (maybe even spelling the ski school name right), makes it fairly plain what some nervous beginners really didn't need was some self-appointed ski guru to come along and attempt to teach them. There's no real comparison between this and what many of us might do when we're skiing with friends in terms of giving each other advice and feedback as more experienced skiers.

Instructing's best left to instructors Very Happy
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I don't think that this experience is limited to ESF. We used a Children's Club (Panda Club) in Chamonix that employed Evolution 2 as the instructors. For one of my daughters the weeks lessons were virtually a waste of time. Although she had already done a week on snow (and could comfortably ski blue and easy reds with the rest of the family), she spent the whole week on the nursery slope at the base of Argentiere. When we questioned why she wasn't being taken up to the mountain we were told that "some members of the group were not up to it". We asked that she could be moved to another group and were told that there was insufficient space for her to be able to join.

Of course they could have split the group, but that would cut into profits, which I felt was more important to them than coustomer satisfaction. I don't really think that instructors of largish groups particularly care on the improvement levels of individuals.

We didn't know what else to do, except make a mental note to never use either organisation ever again.

In Manda's case it would have been better if they had come out of group lessons, or they be assigned to a smaller group with an instructor that could take them at an appropriate level. They possibly needed more than the typical instruction that you get within a group. I hear the arguements about improvement and performance, but within a group of varying standards it would mean spending significantly proportionately more time on the weaker skiers, which is not fair to those at the other end of the group, as they all paid the same rate for the instruction.

I don't think that Mandas friends would get any compensation whatsoever and would waste their time if they sought redress. They should just learn from this experience, (and maybe go 1-2-1 next time) and we need to learn from these experiences of others.
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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!
& it occurs to me that the best thing for the two beginners would have been to get a couple of hours with a real instructor which is the advice I would have given.
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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.
PG, we're not talking about a court of law here, we're talking about interaction with other human beings on a friendly forum. Of course subjective criteria are used to judge offence as in real life, after all, surely you have some friends who you are far more relaxed around than others. What one set of friends may judge offensive, another would tolerate or even encourage. Your arguments are often well founded, with good logic behind them, however sometimes the way that you phrase them is offensive or even intimidating, as an inadvertant side effect of your need to "win" every discussion that you enter into on this forum.

As for failing to answer your concerns about remarks made earlier on in this thread, I see no need to, the only reason that you've brought them up is to muddy the waters around my concern about the lack of respect that you seem to be showing fellow users of this forum.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Kramer, now that is offensive. You make statements about my intentions that are without foundation, and impugn my character.

ssh,
Quote:
The novices I've just described, by definition didn't have a clue that they'd recieved (quite frankly) shite instruction in anyone's language

'Opinion' expressed in this form is borderline defamatory. Whether or not it is actionable is debatable.

As I understand it, it is acceptable in your view for a professional, who has not been given the opportunity to defend him/herself, to be maligned, based on a combination of hearsay and sweeping assumptions. However, when someone dares to suggest that this approach is indefensible, and attempts to speak up on their behalf, high horses come galloping in from all directions.

All your arguments about what tuition should be about are entirely beside the point I was making. I would agree with them, mostly. However you simply do not have anything like sufficient information to jump to your various conclusions, and that is the single criticism I was levelling.
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