Originally Posted by lmyers
Some people may need to travel to Europe to realize their technique is shit and literally shell out hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to fix it, but in my exprerience good instructors are hit and miss. Better to try and make friends and ride with different types of riders, ask their advice and pay attention to their technique, and don't just ride with a couple of people. The more the better. You'll have more fun than taking lessons, save money, and make some new friends too.
The winter I spent in Val d'Isere was spent skiing with some of the most technically solid skiiers I've ever hung with. Most had either learned from doing lots of days of lessons (see "holiday skiiers" above) before ski bumming in the Alps or had patrolled or taught skiing back where they were from. Then there were the Swedes who I'm convinced have some gene that wires them to be really good from birth. Regardless, almost all were equipped with the mentality that throwing down money for a lesson from time to time was worth it no matter what level they were at in their development - and especially in the first part of their skiing career.
Yeah, instructors can be hit or miss and some out there are really lousy. But if that's the case, then how about the random friends who may not know anything about sound technique or if they do, are clueless about how to assess where someone is in their development and then communicate the right thing at the right time to a novice? Oh, yeah, they'll be delighted to try to tell you how to do it just like they do. Then you can either get frustrated "trying to run before you can walk," or you can incorporate their bad habits into your muscle memory for free. Then you can spend years muscling down the hill, working a whole lot harder than you have to, and maybe even get some nagging injuries from chronically misusing your body (ergonomically) and putting way more wear on it than needed.
I've never taught skiing or boarding and I hate to sound like a ski school advertisement but...
I'd rather take my chances with an instructor and spend a few bucks and a few half days with someone that's been trained not only how to ride but also how to evaluate and how to teach
new riders. You're motivated to learn so ask the instructor questions and make an effort to ride the lift with him or her - they'll be psyched to have the kind of eager and engaged student that makes cold days spent on beginner runs worthwhile for them.
A group lesson probably wouldn't require a lift ticket anyway during the lesson. A good place that's not on the Colo pass and shouldbbe cheaper than a lesson at Breck or Vail is little ol' Ski Cooper outside of Leadville. My first-timer brother got an instructor who'd spent 15 years at one of the big "glamour" resorts before dropping out and moving to Leadville where he can afford to live in the mountains. Ski Sunlight outside of Glenwood Springs is probably similar with staff who got sick of the daily drive to Aspen to teach. You won't be on the steeps that first day so why spend extra $$ just to be able to look up at "The Bowls?"
See if you can borrow a hockey girdle to protect your butt and hips, put on some kneepads & elbow pads (especially a helmet) to protect your body from the early season manmade snow you'll probably be learning, and falling, on. Keep the kneepads - in addition to protection when learning, they'll keep your knees warm on cold days and make taking breaks a lot more comfortable when you plunk down on your knees.