There’s an apparent increase in certified ski and snowboard instructors getting paid for lessons outside of normal working hours, a trend that has prompted resorts to take action.
The U.S. Forest Service recently got a conviction in Telluride of an underground instructor teaching on the mountain, which is on Forest Service land. Anyone providing commercial services, like ski instruction, on public lands must have a permit.
Breckenridge Ski Resort has asked the town make this practice a criminal offense, since its base area is within the town of Breckenridge. Officials at Vail and Beaver Creek nabbed a dozen instructors – several of whom were former employees – during a coordinated sting operation last season.
In the fall issue of 32 Degrees, Dave Byrd, director of risk and regulatory affairs for National Ski Areas Association, penned an article on bootleg instruction that outlined the risks of undertaking to teach skiing or snowboarding without permission.
Byrd told SnoCountry.com that the rise of the Internet and the “ease of marketing yourself” has contributed to this trend as much as anything. He also said the recent economic slump may have forced instructors to seek out sources of income.
“It’s not a current flood, but it’s an ongoing thing,” said Byrd. “The ski areas themselves will track it closely, because it’s in their interest.”
Adrianna Blake, marketing manager for Taos Ski Valley, said they have had incidents of bootleg instruction but it’s not a “huge problem.”
Penalties have ranged from banning the offender from the resort to criminal prosecution, according to published reports.
Photo: Breckenridge Resort Ski School (Carl Scofield)