Ski Instructing on Whitetail Mountain

Posted On February 22, 2012

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Whitetail Resort

Just last Monday I went up to Whitetail Mountain to enjoy one of the very few cold spells of this season with my dad. Whitetail resort is small and the marginal temperatures can sometimes give the slopes some pretty challenging conditions but it’s convenient since it’s close by. It also has a great atmosphere and is full of friendly employees. I had heard about the ski instructor course they were hosting in March and was interested in finding out more about it. Not really knowing what skills were expected at a class such as this I asked about having lesson with someone who knew about the class. This is where I ended up meeting Andrew. Andrew is the ski school director at Whitetail whom offered to show me how lessons of every skill level are conducted. Along the way I was interviewing him.

How long have you been doing this?

“I have been skiing for about 50 years and teaching for about 15.”

Are you full time? What do you do in the summer?

“Yes, I am full time but only work 7 months of the year. In the summer I do home improvement and construction.”

What does someone need to teach skiing here?

“The biggest thing we look for is teaching ability. Secondly, making the guests feel welcome; you have to be personable and encouraging. Also you have to have a moderate skiing ability but that’s not as important as you might think. We have events for instructors constantly to improve skiing ability so that someone who teaches beginner lessons can improve to teach advanced lessons. The school here is certified by the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) which allows us to hold tests so that you can get certified. We hire all kinds of people. There’s actually a family of 5 that works here, the three kids and the wife and husband are all instructors. You typically fit the profile of someone we’d hire.” 

How exactly does the certification process go?

“You demonstrate your knowledge of teaching terms through an indoor session, your teaching ability with mock teaching (teaching without an actual student present) on the slopes, and your skiing ability. You eventually have to obtain PSIA membership. This requires paying dues and getting a certain amount of credits from events. Whitetail helps by hosting all the events needed.”

How is it this season?

“Well, due to this winter not being very cold, we are down about 40% in number of lessons compared to other years. The weeks around Christmas we actually had to close because in order to make snow it has to be below freezing, and there just wasn’t enough time. Last weekend was pretty busy though, we got 500 lessons in.”

What do you have to do to be able to teach well?

“There are two types of learners in a sport like this. One is the visual learner. This person wants to watch you doing the lesson and imitate you because that is the way they understand things. The other type of learner is the feeler. This person wants to feel the correct way to ski. Helping this type of person includes things like adjusting their form. Understanding what type of learner someone is greatly affects teaching technique. Teaching 4 to 7 year olds is another story though as it is as much babysitting as it is teaching. But that’s why teaching that age group pays an extra dollar an hour.”

I also found out Whitetail offers free lift tickets to anyone who works at the resort as well as their family. You must have your own equipment and you must also commit to teaching a minimum number of hours. This was a fun and informative experience and whether you’re in it for the free skiing or you are looking for a winter job, nothing beats having the slopes as your office.