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The ski industry’s dirty secret

Dear Editor:

I am an exiled ski instructor. I have taught full-time most winters since 1979, from Bridger Bowl to Park City to Jackson Hole, and a few other smaller mountains. I can tell you first hand the whole ski-school industry is unfair and dysfunctional.

Ski school is a pyramid scheme, whether through the mountain management or Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). They welcome new instructors without hesitation or much training, making them L-I “certified” in a hurry. The few PSIA gods at the top make money off registration fees, clinic fees, exam fees and dues. They block a high percentage from achieving L-II, and they block an extremely high percentage like me from ever achieving L-III Certification.

The PSIA gods are condescending to anyone they can keep below them, and they don’t care how bad the instruction is to the general public, because they make money off the new instructors rather than the general public. A $700/day private should not be taught by a new guy making a measly 10 percent; and guys like me should get at least 50 or 60 percent. An Olympic racer can waltz in, and the sky is the limit for his pay, even if he doesn’t know how to teach. Being a great skier since birth does not make you a great teacher.

PSIA has a lot of shenanigans going on. One reason snowboarding came along was because ski school was not getting the job done. Disgruntled ski instructors noticed that, “If I become a snowboard instructor instead, I can get around the PSIA gods and even become an American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) god. When shaped skis came along, PSIA found a way to make ski techniques triple difficult. The great reformation in the ski industry is very interesting and full of smoke and mirrors, and only a handful of guys like me dare to talk about it.

Two great books currently out expose the whole fiasco. One is called “The Greatest Ski Instructor In the West,” and the other is called “One Good Turn Deserves Another — Heinsian Downhill Skiing.” Management and PSIA would not want these two books to fall into the hands of instructors at the bottom or in the middle ranks, nor would they want the general public to know.

Fight on, Mulcahy! The meek are starting to inherit the earth.

Gary Heins

St. Johns, Ariz.


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