Ski Instructors Confidential
Several years ago, I was asked by the ski school director to act as an “ambassador” to the resort by giving a brief tour of our village to a group of first-time skiers. Since we were always looking for ways to entice new skiers, I happily agreed.On a clear Tuesday morning, a large tour bus pulled up in front of the administration building. Before climbing on board, the resort concierge gave me brief instructions regarding how I was to conduct the tour, points of interest to highlight, etc.I ascended the steps of the bus and turned to address the group. Inside, facing me were 50 enthusiastic new skiers, ready to begin their ski vacation. I asked the driver to cruise slowly around the village, as I described the most prominent landmarks and a bit of their history. Since the points of interest were outside, I spent most of my time looking and speaking out of the windows as I pointed to them in the distance.This went on for almost an hour, before we returned to the administration building where the resort concierge was waiting for us. Before leaving, I stood in front of the group and asked, “Do you have any question about any of the things we saw this morning?” The entire group just looked at me with blank expressions.During thirty years of teaching, I’ve experienced some pretty lukewarm responses, but the lack of enthusiasm was ridiculous. There wasn’t one question or comment. Not one raised a hand. Just fifty blank stares. I walked out of the bus disheartened and described the lack of response to the concierge.”Oh,” she replied. “Did I forget to tell you? The whole group is deaf.”Bill DavisVail, Colo.
Late in the afternoon, I noticed an instructor was being challenged by one beginning student while the rest of her class was patiently waiting for them to catch up. As a supervisor, I would routinely circulate among the students and assist instructors with difficult students.I skied up to the instructor with her “challenged” student and asked them how they were doing. The instructor said they were doing fine, but were running a little behind the rest of the group. To help get the class moving together, I volunteered to work with the woman while the instructor caught up with the rest of her group.Linda was a very timid student who required a lot of tender loving care to make it down to the bottom of the hill. When we reached the bottom, Linda said to me, “Thank you very much for spending time with me.” I said to her, “You’re quite welcome, but we’re not through yet. We have time to go back up for another run.”Linda replied, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that.” I assured her she could. Again, she insisted, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that.” I assured her that she could make it down successfully.Visibly shaken but still willing to continue, Linda asked, “Will you stay with me? Do you promise that you won’t leave me alone?” I assured her that I would stay with her every inch of the way.Linda and I boarded the lift and headed for the top. I gently coaxed her down the beginner’s area for another successful run. When we reached the bottom, Linda said to me, “Thank you very much for spending time with me.” I said to her, “You’re quite welcome, but we’re not through yet. We have plenty of time to go back up for another run.”Linda replied, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that.” I assured her she could. Once again, she insisted, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly do that.” I assured her that she could make it down successfully.Visibly shaken but still willing to continue, Linda asked, “Will you stay with me? Do you promise that you won’t leave me alone?” I assured her that I would stay with her every inch of the way.For a third time, Linda and I boarded the lift and headed for the top. While riding up, I asked her what line of work she was in. She said that she couldn’t tell me. I said, “Oh, c’mon. You can tell me.” She said that she couldn’t tell me. Again, I said, “Oh, c’mon. You can tell me. I’m your ski instructor.” Reluctantly, she admitted to me that she was a psychologist.Surprised, I said, “Really. Do you have a specialty?” She said, “I can’t tell you.” I said, “Oh, c’mon. You can tell me.” She said, “I can’t tell you.” Again, I said, “Oh, c’mon. You can tell me. I’m your ski instructor.” After some additional prodding, she said, “My specialty is phobic women.””Well, how about that,” I said. “We’re in the same business.”Chuck Coiner Sun Valley, Idaho
Last year, I was a new junior ski instructor at Magic Mountain, just a few miles down the road from the Okemo Mountain resort.At the end of the day, my mother picked me up and asked how my lesson went. “It was OK,” I said. “But my hands are freezing.” She asked why my hands were so cold.I told her that sometime after lunch, I was assigned to a small 5-year-old student for a beginning lesson. After only a few minutes showing the child the basics, he suddenly started to cry. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that his mittens were sopping wet and he could no longer feel the ends of his fingers. By this time, we were already at the top of the mountain, with no dry gloves to exchange.Being the professional ski instructor, I took off my brand-new Schneider racing gloves and put them on the child. Feeling the warmth of the new, waterproof gloves, the child instantly stopped crying.I told him, “Tell you what: You can wear my gloves until we get down to the bottom. When we get to the locker room, you can swap out my gloves for a dry pair and give me mine back.” But the child was having such a good time wearing “big guy” racing gloves, I decided to let him keep them until the end of the lesson.At the end of the day, I returned the youngster back to his mother. Before parting, she gave me a $10 tip and asked, “By the way, does Matthew still wipe his nose with his gloves?”Ben KolakowskiOkemo, Vt.These stories were taken from “Ski Instructors Confidential: The Stories Ski Instructors Swap Back At The Lodge,” a collection of more than 160 tales from ski teachers around the country. The book, compiled by freelance writer and ski instructor Allen Smith of Vail, is available at the Aspen Book Store, or online at http://www.snowwriter.com, or by calling 1-800-201-7892, ext. 97. The book is $12.95, plus $4.95 for shipping and handling.
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