From an Instructor: Do as I say, not as I do....


"This is how you fasten your ski boots for a good fit.  This buckle should be tight across your mid-foot and ankle so that your foot doesn't slide around inside of your rental boot"

"Then why are yours unbuckled?"

"Okay, good question.  You see, I wear these boots every day for work, and they have been custom fit at a huge expense.  Because of this, my feet hurt too much if they are buckled".  I also had two wicked ingrown toenails from the tight fit, but I didn't think she needed to know that.

"So that doesn't sound like it was worth the money if they don't fit well enough to be buckled up"

"Well, when I am skiing hard and want good performance from the boot I buckle them up at the start of the run, and then unbuckle them at the bottom of the run so I can ride the chair lift back up.  When I'm standing or walking in the boots, I leave them undone"

"Oh.  If I'm going to be standing and walking while I learn the basics, why do I have to buckle mine then?"

"Another good question.  Since you've rented your boots, they might not have a perfect fit, and if your foot moves around you might get blisters.  My boots are smaller than my regular shoes, so my foot doesn't really move around"

"Well I wore two pairs of thick socks, so I won't get blisters. I didn't want my feet to get cold"

"Um, okay.  Really the best thing to do is to wear one thin pair of ski socks.  That allows for your blood to circulate and keep your feet warm"

"What do you wear?"

"That doesn't matter, my feet are always cold, but that's just me"

"Oh, then you should wear these chemical toe warmers I bought in the shop!  I have two in each boot, and my feet are sweaty they're so warm!"

"I see.  We'll talk about that later.  Let's move on to the next "step"-ha ha!"

Blank stare.

"This is the toe piece of your binding.  The front of your ski boot goes under the top into the space below.  Your heel lines up with the back part of your binding, pushes down and your foot becomes attached to your ski".

"Why can't I do it the other way?  My boot fits in that way, too.  See, the binding on the ski they rented me in the shop slides back and forth!  Does that mean that these are those cool "twin tips" I saw on TV?"

"No.  Let me tighten that, it shouldn't do that.  It isn't safe"

"Are you sure you should be carrying a screwdriver?  THAT doesn't seem safe!"

"Job hazard.  Rental gear frequently needs adjustment"

"Well why don't they make sure it works when I'm in the shop renting it?"

"They probably did.  You said your name was "Mary" right?  The sticker on the skis you have now says "Susan"

"Oh, that's my friend.  We must have mixed them up this morning.  We had a late night out at the clubs and we both felt a little fuzzy this morning.  Speaking of which, I'm really thirsty and my head hurts.  It might be the altitude.  Can we take a break for something to drink?"

"Of course.  The cafeteria is just over there.  We'll go together"

Sitting down at the table with two large glasses of water and two bananas, I wait for my student while she gets her drink at the bar.

"Are you sure you want to drink that?  It's kind of early and it will probably dehydrate you even more"

"Hair of the dog.  I got one for you, too!"

"Thanks, I don't drink.  I couldn't even if I wanted to while I'm on duty and in uniform.  I appreciate the thought, though"

"Oh sure, no problem.  I'll just drink them both, and then I'll really be ready to hit the black diamonds!  Ha ha!"

Blank stare.

"I forgot to tell you, my boyfriend wants to meet me at the top for lunch.  Can you teach me how to ride the chairlift so I can get up there?"

"Well you have to know how to stop and turn first.  And we haven't gotten both skis on you yet this morning."

"That's okay.  I have poles.  They can stop me and help me steer"

"I don't recommend that"

"I've seen you lean on your poles, and you drew a diagram in the snow for me with them.  Besides, look at all of those skiers coming down "widowmaker" or whatever it's called.  They're using their poles"

"That's a bit different.  Let's just try to get a little gliding, stopping and turning down here at the base before trying the chairlift, okay?"

"Sure, that's what I'm here for!  Let's go back out"

At the beginner yard, custom designed in a bowl shape so new skiers have a safe area to practice side stepping and learn other basics, we are greeted by a short guy with skis about 7 feet tall (at least that's what it looked like....maybe he was just really, really short).  His rear-entry boots were wide open in the back, and his face glowed red since sunscreen was going to get in the way of the skier tan he wanted to show off back at the XYZ corporation he worked for.

"Hey toots!  How'd it go?  Ready for the cliffs?  Ha ha"

Two blank stares.

"Hi sweetie!  Yeah, we had a great morning!  Look at the fur headband I bought while we went in for a water break.  I wasn't feeling thirsty anymore, so I did some technical gear purchasing!"

"Oh good, ‘cause it's freezing up there.  Windy and snowing hard, can barely see a thing.  But you're going to love it, let's go!"

"Uh, sir...that's probably not a good idea yet, she really needs to get some basics down here first"

"Well I only paid for an hour, and I'm a really good skier, so I was just gonna take her up and teach her.  I really only wanted an hour to myself to rip the gnarly half pipe.  I don't know why they made it so steep and icy, though.  I was getting plenty of air time before the park just ducking a couple of red ropes to get to the rocky stuff under the chairlift"

"Sweetie, are you sure I can do it?"

"Of course!  You're going to have me as a teacher, right?  Besides, nothing up there is that hard.  This is an easy mountain.  Just follow me, okay?"

"Well, thanks for this morning, you were great.  Are you sure you don't want my extra chemical toe warmers?"

"No, I'm fine, but thank you.  Please be safe, and ride the chairlift back down if you feel like you need to...."

And another skier about to be taught by a significant other leaves my care to learn the joys of togetherness and the thrill /terror of challenging terrain with her boyfriend.  I'll probably see her again, but there is a good chance it will be at the lodge, shopping bags by her propped up injured leg.  And there is also a good chance that in the end, everyone involved got to do exactly what they wanted to do on their dream ski vacation...

Operations Shots