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Old 02-16-2013, 07:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do intermediate-level group lessons universally suck?

I ride mostly in the Midwest, but take one big trip out West every year and always take a lesson while I'm at a real resort. The beginner lessons I took were awesome - I learned a lot faster and it helped me avoid developing some bad habits.

For the past couple years, I've taken intermediate group lessons and they have all been a big disappointment. The instructors seem to have a much harder time grouping people so that everyone in the lesson is at the same ability level. During the last one I took, the instructor taught some great exercises, but didn't give anyone any feedback as to whether or not they were doing them correctly. (This was at Whistler, which allegedly has an awesome ski school).

Is this just bad luck, or do group lessons just start to lose their value once you hit the intermediate level? I'm considering taking a second trip out West this year and am debating whether I should forget the lesson, or try and save up for a private lesson.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It depends on the school and instructors present. When I teach, if I think there is even the slightest chance of a "split" or decently different capabilities of my students, I will take another instructor with me for a run. Then you can see everyone ride and say there is one person that is super slow or vastly differently skilled and will obviously hold up the group, you can put them with the other instructor.

Some people (usually ski school supervisors) may preach "teaching to the split" or some version of that which is a technique to teach everyone in the class even if they are different levels. This is all fine and good if there is no other option, but ideally you want everyone to be similar levels. I kinda consider it to just be plain lazy if you don't have some way to have another instructor cover a split.

All in all, I would recommend a private lesson at an intermediate level. I typically find that beginners are fine in groups and so are advanced riders. At the intermediate level, there are so many differences in ability and areas to work on skills that a private lesson is often more beneficial.
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Old 02-17-2013, 12:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My friend liked her midweek group lesson at Mammoth, not a lot of people , it felt like a private lesson. I did an early bird private lesson years ago there , I forgot the actual cost but it was a good value for private lessons , but that was 5 years ago, I don't know if they still offer them.

So not all suck.
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Old 02-17-2013, 05:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katgray View Post
I ride mostly in the Midwest, but take one big trip out West every year and always take a lesson while I'm at a real resort. The beginner lessons I took were awesome - I learned a lot faster and it helped me avoid developing some bad habits.

For the past couple years, I've taken intermediate group lessons and they have all been a big disappointment. The instructors seem to have a much harder time grouping people so that everyone in the lesson is at the same ability level. During the last one I took, the instructor taught some great exercises, but didn't give anyone any feedback as to whether or not they were doing them correctly. (This was at Whistler, which allegedly has an awesome ski school).

Is this just bad luck, or do group lessons just start to lose their value once you hit the intermediate level? I'm considering taking a second trip out West this year and am debating whether I should forget the lesson, or try and save up for a private lesson.
Not always, it really depends on the group and the instructor.

The problem with group lessons is it can be hard for less experienced instructors to give 1 on 1 time to every person in the group and snowboard school instructors can have huge gaps between super experienced and pretty new.

A good group instructor will assess each of the riders in the group one by one and try to give advice where possible. If it's a full group he won't be able to go super detailed for everyone, but he'll at least try to give everyone something to work on and improve.

I'd definitely consider going the private route or private group (ie - adult snowboard camp such as Pro-Ride in Whistler) if you want better instruction, especially at the intermediate and up level. Private instruction, even in a group setting tends to be far better because the experience level of the instructors are typically far higher than the average snowboard school instructor.

If you need recommendations in Whistler for private instructors, feel free to give me a message as I know a lot of very good instructors here in Whistler that I can recommend.
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Last edited by Jed; 02-17-2013 at 05:37 AM.
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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also don't forget that each student in that class told the Ski School they are intermediate riders. Did "they' exaggerate their riding ability, are you at the high end of intermediate, maybe they are at the low end of that ability... very hard to group people as they see their levels different than what you or someone else may, better or worse.'

BigmountainMVD made good points as did others.
Might be time for a private lesson.
Another consideration, are you now at a point that a lesson, even a private lesson, is beyond the value of the price. Meaning your riding ability is super solid and the few or many tips you get would not be worth the cost and time....Just a thought
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Old 02-17-2013, 09:31 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Another consideration, are you now at a point that a lesson, even a private lesson, is beyond the value of the price. Meaning your riding ability is super solid and the few or many tips you get would not be worth the cost and time....Just a thought
Frankly, I doubt that anyone who considers themselves intermediate would not benefit from lessons.

That said, any single session group lesson beyond the "never ever" stage is a bit of a crap shoot, particularly at the intermediate level. If, because of time constraints, you can only do one lesson, then get a private lesson.
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Old 02-17-2013, 11:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I consider myself intermediate and a lot of instructors can't keep up with me on multiple types of terrain from blue to black runs... I may be advanced in a lot of people's eyes but I will never call myself that until I can ride with the best of the best(not pros but other advanced riders). There is a wide range of intermediate riders. Honestly I would go with a private group lesson and split the private cost with a couple of equal level riders in my group.

I would expect whistler to be similar to vail in that they will have some excellent instructors that teach a lot of private lessons and only occasionally get a general
Group lesson, all the others are just some tool instructors brought in for beginner lessons and finally trying here hand at higher level classes.
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Do AASI/CASI have a standard set of riding ability levels that one can reference when describing their own skill level to an instructor for a lesson? Seems like it would be more accurate measure of ability than just saying "intermediate" or "I can ride all blues and some blacks". I've seen some resorts that use some version of a numbered scale, but not all; is there a reason why some resorts don't use this type of scale?

Argo, I suspect that you're grading yourself on a curve (compared to the others you ride with) by calling yourself intermediate. Like you said, people who categorize themselves as intermediate would probably categorize you as advanced, and pros or pro-level riding as expert. That's why I think having a standard point of reference (and I'm not talking about you specifically, but just for people in general) is a better way to communicate skill level to an instructor.

Anyway, to the OP, intermediate group lessons are a crapshoot for many reasons. Better to take a private group or private lesson so you're sure that skills that you want to work on are addressed in the lesson.
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Here's AASI's standards for riding capabilities for the central division:

At a minimum, the successful Level I Rider will be able to perform:
- One-footed maneuvers including skating, straight glide, toe-side turns, and heel-side turns in the beginner area.
- Garlands
- Falling leaf exercises
- Basic, medium-radius turns on green trails.
- Switch, Basic medium-radius turns on green trails.
- Dynamic skidded, medium-radius, turns on blue trails.
- Carved, large-radius turns on green trails.
- Basic freestyle elements, including straight airs over small natural or man-made features, ollies, and flatland 180s and 360s.
- On transitional freestyle elements including halfpipes, quarterpipes, steeper spine / hip jumps or similar natural terrain, demonstrate the ability to make an edge change with the turn apex at the top of the transition zone.

At a minimum, the Level II rider will be able to perform:
- Basic, medium-radius turns on green trails
- Dynamic skidded, short- and medium-radius turns on black terrain
- Switch dynamic skidded short- and medium-radius turns on blue terrain
- Skidded, short-radius turns in blue bumps
- Skidded, medium-radius skidded turns on off-piste black terrain
- Carved, large-radius turns on green trails
- Dynamic carved, medium-radius turns on blue trails
- Switch, carved long-radius turns on green trails
- Freestyle elements, including straight airs with a grab over small, man-made features, 180 airs, 50/50 over small boxes and rails, flatland 180s and 360s, and nose and tail rolls
- On transitional freestyle elements including halfpipes, quarterpipes, steeper spine/hip jumps or similar natural terrain, demonstrate ability to ride above the transition zone into the more vertical zone of the feature consistently, both toe-side and heel-side, making an edge change with the turn apex at the more vertical zone.

At a minimum, the level III rider will be able to perform:
- Dynamic skidded, short- and medium-radius turns on black terrain
- Switch dynamic skidded short- and medium-radius turns on black terrain
- Skidded, short-radius turns in black bumps
- Carved, large-radius turns on green trails
- Dynamic carved, medium-radius turns on blue trails
- Toe-to-toe side-carved, medium-radius turns on blue trails
- Carved, medium and long-radius carved turns in bumps and black terrain
- Freestyle elements, including jumps with a grab or spin over small, man-made features, 180 airs, 360 airs, 50/50s on a rail with a ―gap‖ entry, and board-slides on a box.
- On transitional freestyle elements, including halfpipes, quarterpipes, steeper spine/hip jumps or similar natural terrain, demonstrate air at or above the lip, on both the toeside and heelside.
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:32 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The above guidelines apply to AASI/CASI instructors seeking instructor certification and do not apply to students seeking instruction. You have to be able to do each thing listed to get the level I/II/III certification.
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