The Sofa Ski School Story
The idea for making my own instructional ski DVD grew on me during my time teaching skiing at Mammoth Mountain, California. I had just finished university in Vienna and my Austrian ski instructor certification and had the best time working with great people that were so much into sport, skiing and into improving and learning.
Most lessons I taught in my first years in California were 1 or 2 hour private and group lessons. On some days I would train with three different parties, all super keen to improve their skiing. I realized that in most of my lessons we worked on the same main ski mistakes people tended to make. Based on my training in the Austrian Teaching System and my teaching experience I developed lessons that proved to work best to fix those ‘bad habits’ while keeping the language simple and free of ski tech terminology.
With the possibilities of the DVD format I found a way to connect the ski mistakes with the related lessons. Same as in a good lesson the viewer could first identify where he had the biggest potential for improvement and was then led directly to the lesson that would help him work on that. The concept of an interactive application that would not waste time with lessons on things the skier had already mastered, but that would allow him to focus on the main things he was not doing right. A virtual ski school visit that could be done from the living room sofa.
“A skier that is able to ski a blue run safely is usually doing 75 percent right. It is the 25 percent that he is not doing right that get him in trouble on the blacks and once identified and fixed will make a real difference in his skiing.”
In spring 2007 I hired a cameraman and filmed the footage which I then edited to the final production. To draw attention to my no-budget production I uploaded a carving lesson on YouTube in October 2007 (be warned the original YouTube clip is in 240p). By the end of March 2008, the Sofa Ski School Carving Lesson had over 100.000 hits and became YouTube’s most popular ski instructional clip.
I built a very basic website and sold each DVD in combination with a personal online ski analysis. To my knowledge I was the first ski instructor to offer online ski analysis services. For every order I burnt a DVD on my laptop, sharpie labelled and shipped it.
In 2008 I was able to sign with VAS Entertainment the world’s largest sports movie distributor which allowed me to reach a wider audience. The DVD “From Blue to Black Diamond” was released in 2008 and quickly became one of the most sold ski instructional DVDs on the market.
Today Sofa Ski School BTB has sold over 20.000 times worldwide and the Carving Ski Lesson on YouTube is still the most viewed ski instructional clip online with over 3,6 million hits (4,4 million if you include all versions of the video).
In 2009 I was offered a position as the snow sports school manager at Treble Cone, New Zealand. The goal was to grow the school and to generate new business areas.
In 2011 I held the first Sofa Ski Camp in Austria. The goal was to group keen skiers of similar ability to train together for a number of days.
In 2011 Sofa Ski School and TC decided to cooperate by offering Sofa Ski Camps at Treble Cone.
In 2014 I published the second instructional called “From Blue to Powder” which was filmed at Treble Cone.
In 2014 a new website was published that allowed customers to also purchase videos for on-demand and offline viewing and that had a member area for customers with additional content.
In 2016 over 100 skiers participated in the Sofa Ski Camps at TC and I decided to resign from the manager position at Treble Cone to be able to fully focus on the further growth of the camps. In only 8 years of stagnant ski resort visitor numbers the revenue of the snow sports school and the hours taught by its instructors could be doubled.
In 2019 the Sofa Ski Camps at TC became the biggest ski improvement camp for recreational skiers in the world, 262 participants generated 1300 skier days and were responsible for 8% of the ski resort’s revenue.
In 2020 Treble Cone was sold and the Sofa Ski Camps were discontinued by the new management.
In 2019 Sofa Ski Camps were first offered by Hansjörg Rumpold, Ski Sport Adventure in Japan. In 2020 already over 60 skiers participated in the Japan camps.
Also in Austria the Sofa Ski Camps and the Klaus Mair Private Coaching grew substantially since 2011. Over 800 nights are generated every season by skiers that come to the Montafon to train with Klaus or join a Sofa Ski Camp.
In June 2020 I launched a new website and Sofa Ski School was rebranded to SOFASKI.COM to be able to better represent the various offerings.
Since 2008 Sofa Ski School / SOFASKI.COM has been the first Online Ski School offering everything from ski instructional videos (sofaskischool.com), online ski analysis and training planning (skianalysis.com) to on snow coaching (sofaskicamps.com) allowing skiers from all over the world to access quality ski instruction and professional ski coaching on- and offline.