How did you learn to ski or snowboard? Have you ever taught a friend? Do you feel safer in the hands of a professional in group or private lessons with a qualified ski instructor?
In theory it’s cheaper to get a willing friend to teach you how to ski. But it could be costlier in terms of time, your relationship and most importantly – who buys the drinks at après…
Learning something new isn't easy. And with snow sports, it’s often not a pretty sight either. This goes beyond beginners in ski school: even professionals and ski instructors come crashing down when they try to push their boundaries. So it’s often preferable to dent your ego in front of trusted friends rather than a stranger. That said, it’s your friends who will continue to bring up your blunders and ensure the go-pro ‘fail’ footage is shared on Facebook back in resort. As adults, our egos often get in the way of asking for guidance. With any luck, you’ll be suitably humbled by your mahogany-skinned, bionic-kneed, multi-lingual, snake-hipped ski instructor, to leave your ego at the bottom of the chairlift; he’s so far beyond your standard there’s no point trying to maintain dignity…
Can your friends relate better to learning to ski?
For this reason, there is a strange perk of being taught by your friends, and not the most skilled of your friends either. Often, the finest ski instructors were sliding across the snow, on tiny plastic skis, before they could walk; speed racing before they reached puberty, and smashing the backcountry in their teens. Being a beginner is a distant memory for them, and although they can advise on every technical detail, the mind-frame of being absolutely useless is nearly un-relatable. It’s proven to be easy to teach a skill that you’ve only just learnt, because the pathway to mastering it is fresh in your mind. This argues that, as long as they’re one-step-ahead of you, learning from a friend may actually be easier.
It’s better to be in safe hands on the mountain!
We’ve touched on ego, but fear plays a significant role too. Snow sports are high risk activities and the mountain environment can be pretty intimidating. It’s worth considering if you will feel more comfortable with friends or a professional ski or snowboard instructor making the judgements for you. Their motivations are different: by hiring a ski instructor, you’re engaging in a contract: You give me the tools to learn to ski in exchange for monetary compensation for your time and knowledge. By going with friends it is more like: Tell me how to get down the mountain efficiently enough in exchange for not holding you back all day. It’s likely therefore, you can consider a ski instructor to be more reliable in that the novelty of having you as their protégée won’t wear off: like it might when your friends’ patience runs out. (And if it does, they’re hopefully professional enough to not let it show!) You’re then much more inclined to yell at said ‘mates’ when they do leave you behind, or laugh at your inelegant chairlift dismount. Frustration is always an enemy to learning.
Don’t underestimate the qualities it takes to be a ski instructor
Even if your friends are generous and considerate with their efforts in teaching you, we reckon you’ll progress better with a professional. They qualified to be an instructor: they didn’t qualify to be a really, really good skier (although this is most likely the case as well), but as a person who is well placed to inform, educate and assist you. Your friends may be kind and excellent skiers, but their capacity for teaching and passing on information may be hopeless.
Your relationship is key for learning
However, the greatest benefit to learning from your friends is undoubtedly how well they know you, and how well you know them. You know what kind of teacher they’ll be: how much they’ll listen, push you and the limit of their patience! Obviously meeting a ski instructor for the first time, on the day of your lesson, it’s difficult to replicate this. For these reasons, the Ongosa system enables ski and snowboard instructors to create their own profiles: exposing their character, suggesting what they’re into and how they’d work with you. You can also instant message an instructor or guide once you’ve booked through Ongosa, in the run up to your lessons. Who knows, your ski instructor might end up becoming your buddy after all: the best of both worlds!
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