Discover Michigan is a one-hour group lesson. These can be large, diverse groups of children and adults with a wide range of abilities, experience, and expectations, so they are very difficult to teach well. Some can barely walk and others have skied before.
Students arrive at different times, so they may have to catch up once the program starts. Many will not have their boots on properly or have the proper gloves. Some will be very stress trying to get their kids ready and not knowing what to do. Check to see if they are dressed properly, especially check for one pair of socks if their feet hurt. Or it may be their boots are too tight, or they stuffed their pants in the top of their boots. Poles can help them walk and increase their confidence; you can take them away if they are in the way.
Some have skied before and used the voucher because it is a cheap way to ski, or they brought a friend who has not skied. They are excited and are here to have fun. The idea of being in a big group waiting for people who are struggling to walk is not fun.
Many are really not here for the lesson, at least not a slow one. Some are do-it-yourself adventure seekers and can be very athletic. They may like a few tips but really just want to do it.
At Pine Knob, team teaching is used.
1- Welcome them and thank them for coming. Tell them where you will be skiing, and tell them you will be working on a athletic stance, stopping, and turning for the hour.
2- Safety- Ask who has skied before and tell them where they can ski on their ticket in case they leave the lesson, and they must ski in control because they have to avoid everyone in front of them. It is their fault if they hit anyone. Give them a quick tip on stopping, turning, and staying forward because they will leave the lesson in many cases. At Pine Knob, tell them to avoid the long wonder carpet and go to the rope if they leave the short wonder carpets. Let them know they should go just a short way up the rope until they can turn. They can only use the first chair when they can turn and are in control. As a self test, they should be able to make 5 turns and stop by turning.
3- These people often don't know each other, so be sure to make them all feel welcome, keep it fun, and be very positive and supportive with the feedback. Start with walking and static exercises, give different tasks if some in the group are much faster learners.
One instructor will be in boots without skis.
One instructor will load the carpet keeping a larger than normal spacing so the instructor on top has time to help the people exit and start skiing. Assist people with a hand behind their hips or on the side of their hips if they need help walking.
If they can't make a wedge, support them on the sides of their hips and use your feet to position them in a wedge. If the snow is fast, walk them down a bit until they can glide to a stop. If it is slow, you may have to smoothly push to get them going. T-bars can be helpful to add speed or slow them down.
Tell them: hands up, look where they are going, stand up, chest over toes, point their big toes at each other, and push the heels out. Shape their behavior by saying, "Yes, that is it" as soon as they get it. You have to work fast; there are more students coming.
Know where the stop button is and use it if you get behind or if someone falls. When the people can maintain spacing, the instructor on the bottom can provide feedback. Be much faster than when teaching a private lesson; this is quick assembly line work, and you have to keep up and know what is happening around you. Discover has a special lift ticket to identify them.
It can be very crowded at Pine Knob, especially if Superstars and the Blizzards are using the hill, so both instructors needs to know their job and execute it well. This is the age of video and social media, so mistakes will not just create one bad experience, but they will be shared. We need to have a high quality product for marketing and safety reasons.
If they are ready, move to the rope. Here the person loading has to be very good at setting them up and keeping them from falling. Students need to be next to the rope, both skis point up hill, slowly squeeze the rope with both hands; they may need a push or you may have to catch them if they grab too fast. This takes a lot of attention and concentration. Once they are going, you may have to hold the rope up or to the side if they try to sit down or lean on the rope.
At the end of the lesson explain:
1- Where they should practice , and only go higher when they can link turns and turn to a stop
2- Where they can ski with their ticket
3- How to take off their skis if they can't get up, reset their heels and put the skis across the hill to put them back on
4- How to do the gate position if they are having trouble turning their skis downhill
5- Provide some things to work on, like the number of turns they can try to make from a specific starting point, and tell them what they do in the next lesson.
Make sure they know where the cafeteria is and ask them again if their feet still feel good or if they have any other questions.
Tell them they need to be in control so they can stop or turn around anyone below them on the hill. Ask them if they like skiing, and thank them for coming, and invite them back. You can give them your business card. If done well, it should be a fun and positive experience for the instructors and the group that creates some new skiers.
Home for Mt. Holly and Pine Knob Instructors
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