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"Guerilla" Ski Instruction

deadheadskier

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A rather spirited discussion on this topic in the Vail Sucks thread. I figured it's worthy of its own discussion.

It's an interesting topic for many reasons.

For one, I've seen a demand for this service this winter on social media like I haven't ever seen before. Specifically Facebook. Wealthy Moms and Dads, frantically wanting to pay someone to teach their kids to ski during their vacation because they missed the boat on booking lessons and the resort is sold out.

For two, there is the theft of services argument being made. The mountains pay significantly in Insurance and payroll related costs to employ instructors to offer the service.

But......is it theft of services?

The reason I question whether or not it is theft of services is because there are regional ski racing teams and programs with private coaching all over the place. And the coaches for those programs get paid.

When the Mount Washington Valley ski team shows up at Wildcat early season, which has paid coaches; the mountain is cool with it. The coaches don't have to pay to host and instruct their team.

But, if Joe Skier off the street offers to teach someone privately for a few hours at that same mountain, it's somehow theft of services.

Honestly, as I think about this, I believe freelance ski instructors would be a net positive to the industry.
 

machski

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Pretty sure I saw this happening from the Beaver Parking lot at Breckenridge ths past weekend. Can't blame parents for using these non affiliated coaching services based on what Vail Resorts wants to charge.
 

ThatGuy

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I think freelance ski instructing would be awesome and a net benefit. People would have an easier time finding lessons and the instructors would get a much larger %. The problem is the structure that is set up now is not conducive to that.
 

ThatGuy

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Mount Snow passholders facebook group is full of people looking for freelance instructors (and Vails spies watching)
 

deadheadskier

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I really question whether or not there's a legal vehicle to stop the practice.

I'm thinking back to my ski bum years where I bartended 4 nights, Thursday through Sunday. I skied all day M-W and then mornings on work nights.

What if social media was big back then, and I decided to promote my own teaching skills (take out a limited liability insurance policy if I was really serious about it) and offered up midweek Private lessons at $50/HR knowing Stowe was charging $125. Promote it well with testimonials.

The mountain has the advantage on weekends and holidays because of line cut privileges in lessons. But midweek when there are no lines, what's to stop a local skiing entrepreneur from inviting people to ski with them for $50/hr?
 

cdskier

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A rather spirited discussion on this topic in the Vail Sucks thread. I figured it's worthy of its own discussion.

It's an interesting topic for many reasons.

For one, I've seen a demand for this service this winter on social media like I haven't ever seen before. Specifically Facebook. Wealthy Moms and Dads, frantically wanting to pay someone to teach their kids to ski during their vacation because they missed the boat on booking lessons and the resort is sold out.

For two, there is the theft of services argument being made. The mountains pay significantly in Insurance and payroll related costs to employ instructors to offer the service.

But......is it theft of services?

The reason I question whether or not it is theft of services is because there are regional ski racing teams and programs with private coaching all over the place. And the coaches for those programs get paid.

When the Mount Washington Valley ski team shows up at Wildcat early season, which has paid coaches; the mountain is cool with it. The coaches don't have to pay to host and instruct their team.

But, if Joe Skier off the street offers to teach someone privately for a few hours at that same mountain, it's somehow theft of services.

Honestly, as I think about this, I believe freelance ski instructors would be a net positive to the industry.

It is funny you raised that argument about ski racing teams. I was actually thinking of that exact same scenario after I made my last post on this topic in the Vail thread but didn't feel like going back and making another post in that thread. It is a great question why ski areas look the other way for that, but have an issue with Joe Skier doing the same thing.

I'm really still very curious about whether an actual case of "theft of services" has ever been charged and convicted for private ski instructing. I really feel like this is one of those myths that has perpetuated simply to scare people off. And it honestly probably works fairly well as a scare tactic. Who is going to actually have the time and/or money to go to that length to "test" it and find out?

And I've seen the same thing on Facebook this year with an enormous amount of people asking about private lessons. And in nearly all cases, it isn't because the people are trying to "screw" or "cheat" the mountain out of their money or think they're charging too much. 99% of the time it is as you said, people that already tried to get lessons through the mountain and were unable to do so due to them being booked.
 

drjeff

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The ski racing thing is actually easy to explain.

When you see a team from a different mountain at a ski area, that team, if they are there training, has contacted the mountain and at minimum received permission to train there, and often pay a rental fee above and beyond the cost of the lift ticket, to train there. This also doubles as a liability release.

If you see a team just freeskiing with a coach, or presumed coach, on a non race day, chances are that they are just there like any member of the general population 8
 

ss20

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As many of you know, I'm now teaching skiing at Alta. It's my return to instructing after a few years in a supervisory role, and had taught plenty of years before that.

As far as underground teaching.... it's not cool. That's a stance I think we can all agree on. The argument should be-
1. Why is this becoming an issue? What has happened in the industry to make it that this is happening?
2. What can the industry do to find a middle ground between the profit of the ski areas and the profit/wage/flexibility of the instructor's?

@cdskier I brought up the "theft of services" into the Vail thread. I'm not versed well enough in legality to argue (constructively) with you about whether or not it is "theft of services" by definition. Regardless, one who was teaching someone at their own resort or another would certainly be kicked out of PSIA, and be in very very deep water with their home resort. From my employee handbook-
Alta Ski Area has a special-use permit from the Forest Service to conduct ski area operations on specified public lands.
Ski instruction/guiding conducted with the knowledge and approval of Alta Ski Area is an authorized activity and is
within the scope of our special-use permit. Any ski teaching/guiding within the Alta Ski Area boundaries conducted
without the knowledge and approval of Alta Ski Area is unauthorized and in potential violation of Forest Service
regulations.
As far as a legal basis.... I can't give you one... I have no idea what Forest Service regulations that's in reference to. But it says in plain English, "don't do it". Just like every other ski area in the country tells their instructors.

I would never teach off the books, like 98% of instructors out there. That's not saying we like the system as it is! It's simply the rules we have to live by. The change to an independent contractor system would be huge. It's a total 180 from our current system and I don't think it's happening in the distant-future. Reasonable change I would like to see is within PSIA. No one likes PSIA. When I was part-time, it averaged out to me paying $200 a year in dues and education for a "job" which I made just under $1,000 in net paychecks each of my first 2 seasons. Now it is a "real job" for me with decent money and the (now) $250ish average in education/dues each year is acceptable pocket change. But for someone trying to teach weekends at the local feeder hill as I was, it's a huge expense. Second, PSIA is too much involved in ski area management. It should be an organization that looks out for its instructors, but unfortunately, many people (myself included) do not see it that way. It's in a weird trifecta. First, a lot of high PSIA members are high up in ski school management. Second, PSIA is bizarrely involved in advertising itself which I have never understood.... as literally every mountain I've ever heard of is a PSIA-accredited ski school....any third party ski instructing associations died out 40 years ago, so it's pretty pointless. Last, PSIA does not put its members first. They are not arguing for better instructor pay. They are not trying to fight for more benefits. They only put out education and certification standards. Let me add.... the certification/education is top notch, they've really overhauled the whole system from the ground up and it is much stronger than it was 10 years ago, IMO. But they are not fighting on my behalf, as a trade organization should.


I will clarify my points if anyone needs it. I will add my thoughts as the thread develops. I'm done with the "guerilla/underground" ski teaching discussion. I've made my case against it, and will not defend it further. I don't like discussing the topic at length as it is a moral dilemma. One of my favorite people in the industry admitted he does that kind of thing and it was tough to respect him once I knew that.
 

ss20

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I think freelance ski instructing would be awesome and a net benefit. People would have an easier time finding lessons and the instructors would get a much larger %. The problem is the structure that is set up now is not conducive to that.

Right. I don't want people to think I'm here to defend the current system. I just play by the current rules and make the most of it. Like almost every single other instructor out there.
 

thetrailboss

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We have friends who do it for their daughter. They pay the friend in beer. I am not going to say anything more. The person was a ski instructor at one point. Now a parent with young kids who skis with this family.
 

cdskier

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As many of you know, I'm now teaching skiing at Alta. It's my return to instructing after a few years in a supervisory role, and had taught plenty of years before that.

As far as underground teaching.... it's not cool. That's a stance I think we can all agree on. The argument should be-
1. Why is this becoming an issue? What has happened in the industry to make it that this is happening?
2. What can the industry do to find a middle ground between the profit of the ski areas and the profit/wage/flexibility of the instructor's?

@cdskier I brought up the "theft of services" into the Vail thread. I'm not versed well enough in legality to argue (constructively) with you about whether or not it is "theft of services" by definition. Regardless, one who was teaching someone at their own resort or another would certainly be kicked out of PSIA, and be in very very deep water with their home resort. From my employee handbook-

As far as a legal basis.... I can't give you one... I have no idea what Forest Service regulations that's in reference to. But it says in plain English, "don't do it". Just like every other ski area in the country tells their instructors.
A stance we can all agree on? Judging simply by the posts so far in this thread, I don't think that's accurate to say. I certainly wouldn't have an issue with it.
#1 is easy to answer as well. Demand exceeds supply would be the main factor in why this is such a hot topic. Price the mountains charge is another one too (especially when people know how little makes it to the actual instructors).

As for your employee handbook...that's still just looking at things from the perspective of the instructor. The argument about "theft of services" has always been that would be the punishment for the person doing the hiring of the private instructor. I still think that's the part that's BS... I've never questioned the reasons why an active instructor wouldn't offer these type of services privately.
 

Andrew B.

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Seems pretty simple
I can’t just go into Shaws and sell my homegrown tomatoes can I?

Making profit at someone else place of business with out their permission and with out agreed to compensation is against free market principles and the law.

For me, like much of the black market economy, I don’t really care if it’s done but don’t act shocked when you get your hand slapped.
 

Andrew B.

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The smarter thing would be for the mountains to have a system where free lancers can register and pay a fee.
Helps the mountain with part time “employees” and allows the freelancer to charge what they can get while still compensating the resort.
 

deadheadskier

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Are the guide services in Europe offered by the mountain or private businesses? If private, do they pay a fee to the resorts?
 

Smellytele

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Are the guide services in Europe offered by the mountain or private businesses? If private, do they pay a fee to the resorts?
I hired a guide in Chamonix and it was private. Actually went to multiple places to ski in the same day (Vallee Blanche to start then to Grand Montets to ski the afternoon).
Don't think he paid a fee to the resorts.
 

skiur

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Seems pretty simple
I can’t just go into Shaws and sell my homegrown tomatoes can I?

Making profit at someone else place of business with out their permission and with out agreed to compensation is against free market principles and the law.

For me, like much of the black market economy, I don’t really care if it’s done but don’t act shocked when you get your hand slapped.
You don't have to buy a lift ticket to go into shaws.
 

NYDB

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You could get around the payment issue like they did in Maine pre 10/9/20 or DC for marijuana sales.

You don't pay for the lesson. You pay the instructors for cool stickers they give you or some bullshit like that. Or a donation. Whatever really

Free market solution.
 
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