At the start of last year's ski season, I interviewed my daughter to get a sense of what she really felt about ski school. She's been skiing since she was very young and usually spends a couple of days in ski school every year. It was our first day at a new mountain and she seemed anxious and fidgety, so we sat down at the kitchen table in our little rental condo and took out the notepad for this little interview.
Q: So tell me a little about yourself. How old are you and how long have you been skiing?
A: I’m 11 and I’ve been skiing since I was four or five.
Q: Do you like to ski?
Q: Do you like it a lot?
Q: Do you usually go to ski school when you go skiing with your family?
A: At least one day when we go on a family ski trip.
Q: How many ski schools have you been at?
A: I’m not sure. A lot. I think at least ten different ski schools at different mountains.
Q: What’s the most annoying thing in ski school?
A: Probably the kids. They usually fall a lot, especially in front of you and they make you fall.
Q: How is check-in for ski school?
A: It’s usually pretty simple. My parents meet the instructor and then I meet them, put on my skis, and a couple of minutes later we start skiing.
Q: What would be the perfect ski school check-in?
A: We’d be outside -- sometimes it gets really hot inside while you are waiting. It would be chill and low key. There’d be hot cocoa and we could chill and get to know everyone a little better before we go out skiing.
Q: Does it make you nervous to go to ski school?
Q: Do you like ski school?
Q: What makes you like it?
A: I like it ‘cause you can try a lot of different slopes and sometimes I make some new friends.
Q: How are the instructors usually?
A: Usually pretty fun, not super strict. They teach you a lot.
Q: What makes an instructor awesome?
A: Where they take you -- once an instructor took us on these really cool trails through the woods through little bumps and it’s really fun. And when he stopped, he sprayed snow really high up on us and it was really fun.
Q: Anything else?
A: If they’re nice. And fun to talk to.
Q: Is lunch important?
A: Yup. I get pretty hungry when I ski. Most of the time the food is pretty good. I like having a bunch of choices. Usually, there’s a pretty good variety.
Q: What are your three favorite things to eat during a ski day?
A: Mac and cheese. French fries. Hamburgers.
Q: What can mom and dad do to help get you ready for ski school?
A: Talk to my ski instructor and get to know them. Tell them a little bit about me before they drop me off.
Q: Do you always want to go to ski school?
A: No, not really.
Q: Why not? The way you described makes it sound pretty awesome.
A: ‘Cause I like spending time with my family instead of spending time with people I don’t know. And sometimes the other kids aren’t as good skiers as me.
Q: Sounds like part of the problem is being put in the right group.
A: Right. And I don't want to be put with kids much better than me, either.
Q: Is that the biggest challenge with ski school -- being sure the rest of the kids are at about your skiing level?
A: Probably, yes.
Q: We are at a new mountain and today will be your first day in ski school here. How do you feel about that?
A: Not so good.
Q: Why not?
A: Like you said, it’s a new mountain and I've never been to the ski school here so I don’t know what to expect.
Q: Are there any things that a ski school could do before you arrive to make you more comfortable?
A: Before we start our lesson, maybe do something first to get to know the instructor and the kids you’ll be skiing with. Maybe a video that showed the check-in process before we get there. And maybe if they reached out the day before and sent me an email or something and told me a little bit about how they teach and what to expect and what we’ll be learning that day, that would help.
Q: That sounds like some really good advice. Hey ski schools, are you listening?