Deals! Deals! Deals! on local mountains.

It’s Spring, and there are lots of deals happening in the local mountains. here’s a few.

Grouse Mountain

Y2Play Pass: $355.00 (purchase now! it will sell out soon)

– a popular pass that includes riding and skiing for the rest of this season as well as all of next season.

– All Y2Play purchasers receive $35 off an Air Grouse Mountain Zipline tour.

– Bonus for Adult Y2Play passholders: $25 Grouse Mountain Gift Card. Family passes will include a $50 Grouse Mountain Gift Card. Buy online and receive a complimentary lift ticket valid until April 2010.

Adopt an Athelete:

Support one of Grouse Mountain’s adopted athletes and you could win one of three great winter packages:

1. Three pairs of 2010 Olympic Winter Games tickets and a high performance ski or snowboard package for two

2. Two Adult Y2Play Snow Passes valid through the end of the 2009/10 winter season

3. Two adult 5-Day Snow Packs valid for use through the end of the 2009/10 winter season.

Alternatively, you can enter the draw for the prizing for no donation amount. To do this, please write us a 200 word letter on either of the two following topics:

a) Why Vancouver is the ideal city to host the world in 2010

b) How winter sports have inspired a common passion that unites our province.

click on the link to find out more

Cypress Mountain

Women’s Week:  (March 2-8)

– any weekly drop in lesson – 20% off for women, Women only Terrain Park Jam

Mount Seymour

$99 Spring Pass: March 1 to end of this season

-I would not call this the “best deal in town” as they advertise it, for $255.00 more, you can get 5 more months of skiing and riding at Grouse Mountain.

– But if you love riding the big terrain park Seymour has, maybe this is the pass for you.


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New Book: “Hollyburn” by Francis Mansbridge

The Mountain and the City" by Francis Mansbridge

I just bought a new book today, since the start of recession, I’ve been hesitent to spend any money on things I don’t need.  This book, however, captured my interest because I was a cross country ski instructor at Hollyburn (Cypress Mountain) for many years before switching to snowboarding.  There were lots of old photographs on the walls of Hollyburn lodge and the old bar in the Black Mountain Lodge (now closed to the public).  There used to be a ski jump in front of the Hollyburn lodge, a rope tow on one of the trails and people used to take days to go on a ferry and hike up to Hollyburn from Vancouver just to ski.  It is great that it is finally compiled into a book.  I’ll post more about it when I finish reading it.  Grouse has a rich history too.  I’ve seen it in a documentary in the “Theatre in the Sky” at Grouse Mountain, maybe there’s a book out about it too?

Working as Ski / Snowboard Instructors (Part 2): Making a Living

2. Making a living

Instructor teaching Private Lesson

Many instructors make a living by having a full time job in areas such as accounting, Information technology, and construction in order to fuel their passion for teaching on weekends or week nights.  My friend Richard has a full time job as an “IT Manager in order to pay the bills [, and works as a] Ski Instructor at Grouse Mountain to feed the passion.” Some will move up to become supervisors or managers of a snow school, which many found out later they do not get to ski at all, it’s all about paper work and organizing other instructors.  Some instructors teach full time but have other part time jobs on nights and weekends.  Snocon sum it up quite well in his comment on my last post: “It’s definitely a job for someone with a passion for being on the mountain and spreading the stoke, not for anyone who is just in it for the money and a free lift pass.”


(Video Credit: VanRiders.com) James is a CASI 2 / CSIA 2 Instructor at Grouse Mountain teaching Private Request lessons.

An instructor can make a better living by marketing and promoting themselves in order to get private request lessons.  Private request lessons pays the instructors 3-4 times the hourly wage depending on the size of the private lesson and the resort an instructor is working for. The local mountains in Vancouver encourage private lessons because it make both the resort and the instructors more money.  It’s a win-win situation.  The resort will not have to do as much marketing and advertising for the Snow School because instructors will be out there promoting themselves to the public in order to make a living.  If every instructor is out there marketing the mountain’s products, then the mountain will have 40 to a couple hundred instructors promoting the mountain free of charge.

As I learned in my marketing class in university: it costs less money to keep an existing customer than it does to find a new ones.  If a student is pleased with the private lesson given by an instructor, they are more willing to come back year after year to learn from the same instructor.  In later articles, I will talk more about methods of attracting new students and keeping them.

Even if a potential customer finds private lessons too expensive, they might still take a drop-in lesson and pay for the lesson, lift pass, and rentals.  Every instructor at the ski resorts I’ve worked for is encouraged to hand out business cards to everyone they see on the street or on the hill and help out any beginner they see on the hill who are struggling in order to promote themselves.  I will talk about the demographic of the students and how the instructor should approach teaching in order to get repeat lessons in the next couple of articles.

Working as Ski / Snowboard Instructors (Part 1): Background

I’ve been thinking about writing on how to promote yourself as a ski or snowboard instructor for a while now, there are so many ideas that it might take several pages to finish writing, so I’ve decided to break it into different sections and write a bit each day.  Let’s start with the background on why we need to promote ourselves. (I might be editing it later as I write more or getting comments from readers)

1. Working in British Columbia

Ski and Snowboard instructors are seen as great career choice to the general public because of ski movies such as Aspen Extreme where instructors are portrayed as having great lifestyles.  In some countries, such as France, Instructors are respected and paid as much as lawyers and doctors.  Within a ski resort, instructors are disliked by other mountain staffs because staffs from other departments are under the misconceptions that instructors get paid for skiing or riding around.

aspen-etreme2

Where in reality, “instructors get paid peanuts”.  In British Columbia, part time instructors have to be on the hill for 8 hours (1 day) and gets paid a minimum of 2 hours, and full time instructors need to be on the hill for 40+ hours a week and gets paid a minimum of 20 hours a week.  Even though the hourly wage is great, but if you average out the time instructors spent on the hill, they actually get paid minimum wage or lower than minimum wage.  The free lift pass is a great benefit but if you need to pay rent, eat, or go to the movies, you probably do not make enough to cover it.

Lots of foreigners came over to Canada to teach in ski resorts for a ski holiday but finds out they do not make enough to cover rent and had to return home (source: WhistlerWatch).  In the previous years, if an instructor gets hurt at Whistler, they would get placed in restaurants or another desk job.  This year, because of recession, any instructor that gets hurt would get laid off.

Read on for ways to make a living as a ski / Snowboard Instructor…

Day 48 – Jumping and Spinning on Skis

Skier on Cypress Mountain

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last post, I have been working everyday from 8am to 4pm and then go skiing after work until 10pm.  Although I did take Monday off work just to ski all day in warm sunny condition.  As I am preparing for my CSIA level 1 (Ski Instructor) certification, I’m putting most of my energy into practicing skiing.  I still teach snowboarding and train once a week on snowboards but my focus right now is to get my skiing techniques up to par before the exam.

After practicing on my own for a few weeks, I figure I better take a lesson to make sure I’m on the right track.  As Cypress Mountain offer ski instruction at night (Grouse doesn’t), I naturally came back here for another lesson tonight (Thursday night).  My instructor for tonight is Elias.  He is a CSIA level 3 (Ski), CASI level 2 (Snowboard) instructor.  He has taught at Cypress Mountain for the last 5 years.  He has been skiing and snowboarding for 25 years, and teaching for 18 of those years.  He was a cross country skier before he started alpine skiing.  He has skied and taught in quite a few countries in Europe when he first started teaching.  He has also taught in the United States and skied in South America.

skiing at Grouse Mountain (January 24, 2009)

His vast amount of experience really shown through in his teaching.

My goal for tonight was to learn 3 techniques.

1. learn pivot turns

2. learn spinning on the snow

3. learn to jump off small kickers.

We started the lesson off with him explaining the technical side of pivoting.  He showed me on a blue run how to point my skis down the fall line (really scary), count to three, then pivot until my skis are pointing up hills.  I thought that was scary until he told me to do the same thing backwards.  We then started working on side slipping (like snowboarding), and then falling leaf – forwards and backwards.  It got better after I practiced a few times but the pointing skis down the fall line for 3 seconds is still really scary.

We then went over to Collins (Green run) where he taught me to traverse across the hill until my skis are on the snowbank, then ski backwards until the back of my skis are pointing up the hill again.  We then went on to learn how to do pivot turns backwards and then moved onto spinning on skis without using poles.  It was so encouraging to be taught by a ski instructor who is also a snowboard instructor.  He knows how to relate skiing to snowboarding, explaining in a language I would understand.

The last thing we worked on was our jumps.  We started off with jumping on the snow while we do pivot turns, then we went up on the side banks of Collins where he showed me the different techniques of jumping and worked up to a 180 degree jump.  When we were skiing down the hill, he also pointed out to me what I am doing wrong in my carving and showed me the correct way of doing it and why we do it that way.  It made my carving much more stable.

I would say this is the best ski lesson I have ever had, and I have taken a lot of ski lessons over the years.  Elias was really knowledgeble and could explain the mechnics of skiing simple enough so that a snowboarder like me could understand.  Elias teaches on Thursday nights at Cypress Mountain, I highly recommand taking a lesson with him if you want to become a better skier.

Day 38 – Vancouver appearing through the clouds

Well, it’s been a few days since I last posted.   The conditions on the mountain has been too perfect in the last few days that I’d rather stay on the mountain all day (and all night) than to be at home writing a blog.

January 19, 2009 East Hastings @ Boundary in Burnaby

Burnaby was completely clear and sunny (though a bit chilly) this morning while downtown was still covered in fog.

Vancouver from Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

Vancouver from Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

I could not resist stopping by the Lookout point at Cypress Mountain before going up for some sick riding.  It was amazing ! Yesterday downtown and parts of south Vancouver/Richmond came out of the fog.  Today , even the Lionsgate bridge and many parts of Vancouver came out of  the fog.  It was so beautiful  There was a long line up of cars waiting to park in the Lookout Parking lot.

Photographers on Cypress Mountain Lookout, January 19, 2009

There were so many photographers with big SLRs and huge expensive lenses at the Lookout.  I expect to see lots of Vancouverites posting their photos of today on Flickr and on their Blogs.

January 19 Cypress Mountain

It was a bit cold this morning as expected because the fog / cloud had cleared a bit letting the cold air come up the mountain.  Cypress Mountain became really hot by noon.  It was a warm and beautiful day with soft snow and few skiers/riders on the mountain, but the snow is melting fast.  There were lots of rocks and mud showing in some of the trails, pretty soon, most of the black runs will have to be closed.

Rocks and Mud showing on Cypress Mountain (January 19, 2009)

Like the last few days, there were many people that came up not to ski or play in the snow, but purely for the pleasure of suntanning.

Sitting in Lawn chair admiring the beauty of fog covering Vancouver on Cypress Mountain (January 19, 2009)

Day 26 – Wet Wet day at Cypress Mountain

I was originally planning to hit up both Grouse and Cypress today but my lesson at Grouse was canceled due to the rain, so I decided to stay at Cypress for the rest of the evening.  I took a lesson at Cypress Mountain with Matt from New Zealand.  He is a New Zealand Stage 2 Snowboard Instructor (SBINZ), which is the equivalent of CASI level 3 in the Canadian system.  Matt only teaches part-time at Cypress Mountain and works in construction full time.  I came into the lesson thinking I just need a few tips on my teaching, but turned out I actually got a big improvement on my own riding.  Watching my riding from a fresh set of eyes really helped.

Snowboard Lesson at Cypress Mountain

Taking a Snowboard Lesson at Cypress Mountain

I told Matt I wanted to work on my jumps.  I can do 180’s and 360’s easy but could never rotate enough to do a 540.  Matt pointed out I should be looking at the take off with my eye and have my hips squared to my board, which will give me more balance in spinning a 540.  With these tiny adjustments to my stance, I was spinning faster and getting more air.  Matt then demonstrated a 360 static jump with his board and a few 360’s riding on the flats.  It was amazing.  I have never seen anyone spin that fast in the air.

Matt taking me down Collins

I guess, even after ten years of riding, there’s still a lot I can improve on by learning from others from different backgrounds and higher certifications.  I’m really glad I took the lesson today.

It was raining the whole time I was up there so I was completely soaked after only an hour of riding, so I decided to go home.  I really wished I have brought my garbage bag to wear underneath my gortex jacket and plastic bags to wear over my gortex socks like I usually do when it is raining.

Raining on Cypress Mountain

Old Ski School office on Cypress Mountain

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