Look at this way: Olympic skiers and world-class racers have to be among the finest skiers on any slopes, at any place, at any time. Do they need, in
effect, lessons? Well, they always work with a coach. Or, to put it another way, they never stop taking lessons.

To maintain, or improve, our own skills, neither you nor I are so damn good we don’t need an occasional lesson.

Our policy, until they were almost teenagers, was to enroll Hilary and Rebecca in a ski school anytime we were on a weeklong play-the-moun - tain holiday - even when their skill level reached from high intermediate to low expert.

Grouped only with other strong skiers, they found the classes genuinely challenging, and were always picking up helpful hints on technique, whether for bouncing down the bumps on a black run or carving turns on powder. Since young skiers of these skill levels rarely continue to go to ski school, the girls’ classes were inevitably small; this, of course, gave the instructors the opportunity to fine-tune the weaknesses of each skier. And another plus: The girls quickly developed new friends with whom they’d prefer to ski than with their rather old-fogy parents.

When they reached their teens we shifted our focus onto lessons, offering them, instead, an occasional couple hours’ skiing with a private instructor if they wanted it. They never let us save a penny by turning the offer down.

After only a few years of skiing these two redheads could keep up with anything Gail or I could handle. And by the time they were 12: - as I recounted - I heard the saddest words on the mountain.

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