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Ski School vs. Private Lessons

Regardless of age or ability, the decision to take a ski lesson results in an important question: should you opt for a group lesson, or pay for a private session? To address this query, we have broken down results into three skill categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.


Beginner: Skiers and riders who identify as beginners will benefit most from private instruction. When starting to ski, individuals must focus on two developments: technique and courage. These skills require time and patience to develop, and beginning skiers may feel rushed or overlooked in group lessons. Your fist time on the mountain should be a one-on-one session with a trained professional.


Intermediate: Intermediate skiers and riders will benefit most from group instruction. Having already mastered basic skills, the intermediate skier needs practice and correction. A group lesson will provide the space to practice skills, but the trained eye of an instructor will correct any weird or incorrect developments.


Advanced: Advanced skiers have been at the sport for a long time. They have developed habits, worked to refine their form, and have a preferred speed and type of ride. But what happens if there’s a bad habit hidden within your years of experience? How do you improve your ride? These questions are best address in a private, one-on-one session with an instructor. Skiing with a more advanced rider is the only way to identify and correct your ingrained habits.


How Are Ski Instructors Trained?

It’s no secret—ski and snowboard lessons can be pricey, especially if you choose a private, one-on-one session. However, these talented professionals require skill, practice, and a host of certifications to teach. If you think lessons with a trained instructor are more or less the same as getting instruction from your lifelong skier husband, think again.


Countries have different governing bodies for their ski instructors, but they all have some type of organization to assign and award certifications. In the United States, PSIA-AASI are responsible for this task—the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. The ISIA—the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA)—is also internationally recognized.


Instructors must strive to reach certain levels of certification; these levels range from the most basic “Registered,” to “Level I,” “Level II,” and “Level III.” Levels and types of certification require several standards by which applicants are judged and assessed. To provide context, the Alpine Certification Standards necessitate sample lesson plans, adaptive teaching presentation, and demonstrated skiing and instruction skill. The lessons you pay for are often calibrated to your specific level of ability, and these professionals can develop the lesson plans to help you reach your goal. Instructors may also sign up for their own type of ski school. Located throughout the world, institutions exist to help instructors hone their teaching and technique.


When you sign up for a lesson, you are signing up to train under a professional, educated teacher. As a result, your experience will be tailored to your individual needs. Of course, these lessons are still expensive, but the level of training, skill, and time necessary to gain certification necessitates these rates.


Are Ski Lessons Worth It?

Ski lessons—both group and private—are an expensive addition to your trip or season. Unfortunately, for beginners, the only way to avoid these fees is to brave the mountain on your own—potentially with the guidance of a friend or family member. Though this may seem like a sufficient solution to an expensive question, it is often more time consuming, more frustrating, and may facilitate the development of bad habits or incorrect skills.


Ski lessons are a useful tool for children and adults alike. Kids will benefit from professional instruction; developing skill correctly will foster good technique, a sense of confidence, and a further willingness to learn. Adults, on the other hand, are tougher to teach, but can benefit immeasurably. Breaking old habits is difficult, but—with the right instructor—you can integrate small details to dramatically change your ride. From beginners to experienced riders, everyone can stand to learn something from a trained professional. Want to try out some new equipment technology? Lessons are also a great place to put your demo rental to the test.


The verdict? Yes, ski lessons are absolutely worth the expense. The best way to improve your ski experience is to train with a certified professional; even a one-hour session can intensely alter your approach to the sport.