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Can older ski instructors pass the highest levels of certification? - Page 12

post #331 of 362
Yup, the ability to vary activities is one reason given for avoiding final forms. Many here know how I feel about that but that is one reason given.
post #332 of 362

I don't think of our new format (PSIA-W) as avoiding "final forms" We have a checklist of tasks (I believe it's the same ones most of the divisions use) that each of the candidates must perform.. There is room for interpretation and variations. Dynamic short radius turns for instance may be requested as "reaching". One legged skiing may be asked to be performed more shmeered or steered rather than carved. etc..


There are situational skiing moments were we are expected to ski pretty strange conditions depending on what's available. We have been expected to run gates, ski in a pipe or park, No apparatus as of yet (no rails or boxes) but demonstrate ATML on small or medium jumps, We've skied breakable crust, variable conditions (icy moguls with powder in the troughs) mashed potato snow, wet spring mush on very steep terrain, etc.. all while being evaluated.. I recall having to do slow shmeered one legged shmedium radius turns on a very flat run in spring glue snow.


If all we had to do was "perform/demo these tasks" to a specific standard on "reasonable inbounds terrain" I would have passed my L3 ski long ago. But I probably would not be nearly as strong or well rounded of a skier at this juncture either.



Can I still ski the standard at 50+?


I still need to go through the process again, (pass the L3 ski and then the teach) but at age 54, I am confident that baring any injuries and some good days on the snow to train, I will be able to perform at or above the level I did last season. At the end of the season an examiner I trust a great deal, did tell me I am skiing stronger and better than when I did pass the L3 Ski module in the spring of 2012. I know it's not a slam dunk and I need to continue to improve, so I plan to train just as hard and continue to learn and grow

post #333 of 362
It would seem I have offended BTS. No personal insult was intended but I do wish to extend an apology since he perceives I unfairly attacked him.
Beyond that, I feel strongly that actions speak louder than words and BTS retaking his cert exam would have far more impact than simply asking others to do so. That was the point I was trying to make but obviously that was lost in how I presented that idea.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 10/22/14 at 12:36pm
post #334 of 362

I just saw in the PSIA-RM guide, there is a new clinic called, " What's new Cert Review".  It says that this clinic will be required every 4 years as part of continuing education. The description says that this clinic will evolve with the certification process and is designed to accomplish the goal of being current in their understanding as a certified professional.  It says that participants will receive skiing feedback based on their certification level.


This seems to be headed in a positive direction.

post #335 of 362

At the far side of 67… I now ski better than I ever have. Better than when I passed my level two. In fact level 2 would most likely be a breeze for me now ski wise. However, the gap between level 2 and level 3 is more than likely insurmountable at my age. I really get tired of these young guys telling us oldsters it's all in our heads. Right…wait until you our age and then tell us the same thing. My skiing started late age 40 and serious after 50 when I got my first pin.


Physically starting at around 50 we old guys start having a reduction in testosterone occurring and we fight a losing battle with muscle mass and stamina. For each at that age it’s a little different, but basically the trend downward. The bones start to become more brittle and the overall body's ability to recover from physical stress is longer… much longer. Sure we can do training and do slow down that process, but eventually is going to catch up and begin slowing us down. The heart and lungs are not what they use to be, circulation is poorer and cell stamina and recovery, as I said, has slowed.


Let's say for arguments sake I actually can teach and ski at a level 3. Would I have a chance to obtain that certificate? It's not likely I could pass the level 3 because… what group would we be skiing with? A lot of younger guys all of who would have strength and stamina twice mine. I would be pushed to exhaustion the first hour and spend the rest of the day in the exhaustion state with no hope of recovery. I really would look bad because I could hardly stand up let along ski at my peak abilities.


At full bore, I now peak out at about 15 or 20 minutes and need to coast for maybe equal that amount of time to recover. Then recovery is on a downward path, you might get two, or maybe even three more full bore runs, for 15 or 20 minutes, but that's it.


I've spent most of my skiing life skiing with people 10 or more years younger than me. At age fifty, I could keep up with them. At age 60 and then on to 67 plus… I no longer can. Mind you these people are all  level 7, 8 even a few 9 skiers, not your recreational skier I may not have skied as well as some of them but damn sure used to keep up.


So, what is my point in all this? Level 3 is not designed politically nor physically for the oldster unless your that one in million superman who for some reason has, so far, beat the natural aging thing .


I spent  a lot of my later years in PSIA-W pushing for something called a level 2 master program. Someone who was recognized as an outstanding teacher but because of his age was never going be a level 3. Keep the standards for a level 3 but give recognition to those who were outstanding in their teaching abilities and skiing ability, just physically over the age of being able have the stamina to ski to the current level 3.


Someone told me the other day that they did have such a thing as a " level two master" but I've never seen it.


I think this is the last time I'm going to rant about this subject… 

post #336 of 362
Scad, your post indeed struck home. At a certain age ( different per individual as you say) we indeed all decline. This is the one problem that the pin standard doesn't deal with very well. I was thinking about a couple of my own old coaches from when I was a kid when reading your post. One is still very active and has contributed hugely to the sport. I'm sure he's still a great skier, but not as good as he once was. What doesn't change are the eyes and basic knowledge of the sport and mechanics. I'm sure at 80, he'll still be hired to coach U16's, 18's, etc... even if he can't keep up with them all day. I'm guessing he'll continue to ski to standard, but just not all day. There should be some sort of 'legacy/legend' designation that acknowledges age and contribution AND doesn't suggest devaluing their own or anyone else's pin.
post #337 of 362
Time indeed marches on SC and in the end we all slow down. For you passing your two seems easy but a day will come when even that will be a challenge. For others the 3 is viewed similarly. b
post #338 of 362
So what do you do with the older L 3 teacher who cannot teach on the entire hill?
post #339 of 362
You have them teach on appropriate terrain and a level 0-7 skier would be damn lucky to have them.
post #340 of 362

60 is not old at all:D

post #341 of 362
Originally Posted by dwang View Post

60 is not old at all:D

Unless you're 13.
post #342 of 362
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
Originally Posted by dwang View Post

60 is not old at all:D

Unless you're 13.


I recently heard someone refer to mid-40s as "middle aged." This shocked me, although upon reflection, I suppose it's literally true.

post #343 of 362
Originally Posted by dwang View Post

60 is not old at all:D

...if you can afford a new knee.

post #344 of 362
Originally Posted by dwang View Post

60 is not old at all:D

I go for 60 again...


I think a level three is never too old if he is still comfortably and safely able to maneuver any and all terrain that he is teaching the student on. If I was the advanced student seeking his present and past skills and knowledge, I would have not the least problem with waiting a moment or two for the old master to get down the hill to me or traversing to the desired teaching terrain. I'm not there to be impressed with his skiing skills but his ability to teach me to be a better skier. 


In this sport, we seem to equate the 'skill to teach' to much with the instructors current physical ability and I challenge that the ski associations are wrong in this respect. A professional golf player doesn't get his coaching from the better players. He gets it from a coaching instructor. A martial artist learns his advanced skills from a master who may be even in his 80's. Look at all the other individual and team sports where there are coaches and instructors...


The ski instructor industry has set a standard that requires that, in most cases, the physicality of someone in their prime to achieve the top most position of level three. They then went beyond that and created the "demo team" or the best of the best. There is something missing some where between the level two and three. Something needs to be addressed. 


As I have noted before indirectly, this seems to go against what should be the priority the concept of the ski instruction... that is to teach. Recognition for and of those special 'teaching instructors' who for whatever reason are superior within the level three in teaching skills but are never going to have the strength to attain the physical level three are currently a lost resource. 

post #345 of 362
Our school and been very good at using 'under certified' instructors. We're are assigned by and large with what we bring to the table here and now. I know one fabulous L1 and 3 or 4 excellent L2 instructors. These guys/gals have built a very nice private clientele. One is already nearly booked for the upcoming season. Why is he good? Could be because he played minor league ball and almost made 'the show', and has spent years coaching the sport at very high levels. Are there stronger skiers on the staff? Sure. Are they better instructors and really know how to motivate, communicate, and keep it fun for his clients? Maybe, maybe not. Will he ever get his L3? Hard to say. Depends on how committed he is. Nothing physical should get in his way. I hope I'm as strong in a decade as he is now. He's also a blast to ski and have a beer with, and that counts for a lot in my slim list of important things.
post #346 of 362

This has really been an interesting thread with a lot of really good input from some really good people, but it has caused me to come to the conclusion that maybe a pretty serious "fly by" is occurring between Professional Ski Instruction (Certification) and both Consumers and Resort Operators.  First of all, the Resort is in the game to make money -- period!  Believe me, they really don't care who's certified or at what level if there isn't a direct correlation to increased revenue.  It's all about the "Benjamin".  Similarly, the consumer of ski lessons is also not nearly as concerned about certification level as he is about simply having a good time and getting a "good deal".  Remember, by far, most lessons sold are to never-evers and low-level intermediates.  Why do these folks need a L3 expert?

The average guy who shows up once a year for a 5 to 8 day stay has a vacation mind-set.  He's paying big bucks for a Disney kind of experience and really does not want to be humbled, frustrated nor faced with the fact that he will have to spend hundreds of hours (and dollars) to ski like the local pro.  If one were to seriously match talent to demand in the real world as it really exists at most resorts.............maybe the L3 instructor would not be the first choice? 

post #347 of 362
I disagree, Sitz. I think most located at destination resorts and have no trouble filling their private bookings would disagree with you as well. Good L3s/trainers/ also can go a long way to creating a local 'culture' of excellent instruction. Taos comes to mind. That said, as a larger culture, it's in our DNA to 'head west, go it alone, and sink or swim.' Obviously your mileage might vary, but I think you could take that week trip to say, Snowmass or Taos, take advantage of some coaching, AND in fact have a better vacation experience than you might otherwise. Without exception, the best skiers I've ever known always open themselves up to a trusted set of eyes via training or coaching.
post #348 of 362

Although I disagree with Sitz on a lot of stuff here, he makes an irrefutable point on the public's knowledge of full cert. value.  Partly, it is because of our "niche market" as a sport.  I asked some skiers this year what they thought about Andrew Weibrecht and I got the deer-in-headlights look.  I probed further and they had heard of Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller.  I probed further and it was mainly for pop culture reasons that they had heard of those two.  Olympics, glamour photos shots, and Bode's ubiquitous bad boy image from 60 Minutes. That said, how would these skiers know about the more obscure nuances of our sport, like the full cert pin.  It does not surface in pop culture, like movies and stuff.  Full Cert. would be marketed through PSIA which has made attempts in this area in the past.  Recently, I am not aware that they are doing anything like this. Most of us full certs get lessons and teach good lessons because we are good at what we do  and the pin is just frosting.  Many of us have developed the framework for our professionalism through the certification process, continued education, and an unrelenting passion for skiing.  Do all full certs fit this description? No.  Some have let their skills slide, but I can say one thing with certainty.  Randomly pick ten rookies or cert ones and do the same with ten full certs.  I will guarantee you which group will consistently provide client satisfaction, skill improvement, and a fun time on the mountain.

post #349 of 362

I tend to be a "numbers" kind of guy.  I'd like to see some solid statistics.  Things like:

1.  Total ski pass purchasers per year.

2.  Total ski lesson purchasers per year.

3.  Breakdown of what level lesson purchased.

4.  Breakdwon of what level cert (if any) is teaching which lesson group.

5.  Some sort of evaluation of lesson-taker satisfaction.

6.  Some sort of evaluation of lesson-taker improvement based upon both Instructor evaluationa and lesson-taker evalutation.


It could be that the current certification process needs to be tweaked?  Maybe the strongest, best skier on the mountain isn't the best teacher or, God forbid, the person driving the most revenue and profit?

post #350 of 362

Herding cats, oldsitzmark, is difficult.  

post #351 of 362


I don't know what ski school you work at, but I will be happy to email your ski school director and get them for you.  Most ski schools of any size have a business department where all that data is gathered and analyzed in detail.  I know because they present them in cool pie charts and graphs at early season orientation. ;)

post #352 of 362

Have not taught since 1996.  I know that individual ski schools collect data, but am interested in a much higher level view -- enough so, that regions in North America and maybe even parts of the world could be compared.  I can't find any decent statistics online.  Only thing I've found that seems credible is in a study done on ski accidents that states that more than a third of all formal lessons are to skiers who have never skied before.

post #353 of 362


Go figure that.  One of the stats from surveys (early 1990's) that floored me- only 28% of the people on the Front Range of Denver (Ft Collins South to Pueblo) have skied at least once.  Are you kidding me?  Some of the best snow in the world and 72% haven't slid (on there feet)!!!!! :eek   That's crazy.   OK another one was that  most women underrate their ski skill and most men overrate.  And a funny one is that most men see success in "getting down" a steeper hill than what they skied before.  Most women felt is was success was defined by getting down a hill with more ease, confidence, and style.   Don't know about the stats you really want, but I would contact Colorado Ski Country USA, Ski Industries of America, and PSIA National.  I am not a statistics kind of guy who seeks out that stuff, but these entities collect a LOT of data on the ski industry. 

post #354 of 362

Thanks!  Yup, it (skiing) is certainly a different sport for different people.  Like most Instructors, I was always working toward "efficiency of movement" (and never quite making it all the way there, sort of an endless pursuit), but had friends that were just as you described -- guys who were always looking for the steepest, most gnarlly chunk of the mountain so they could say they "skied" it (actually "survived" it, as most of these guys were far less than technically good skiers).  Anyway, as long as we are all having fun, I suppose all is well.


Check out this short U-Tube of the 1971 K-2 Demo Team.  It brings back some fond memories of those old, skinny, straight, long boards that seemed to genuinely be "all mountain" cruisers.


post #355 of 362

Bumping this thread to recognize a fine older instructor I know who recently passed his L-3 skiing exam:  Otto Matheke from Liberty Mtn Resort in southern PA.  I'm guessing he's already completed the other portions to get full cert, but not sure.  He's been a level II for a long time.  Hope he'll see this and give us a full update.


Believe Otto has been instructing at Liberty Mtn, PA since 1993.  Super instructor and nice guy.  He's actually a member of this forum from long ago, but doesn't post much; profile: http://www.epicski.com/u/6965/lmandrake   

Having observed first-hand through my son’s experience what is involved physically and technically to pass the Level III skiing exam I am super impressed when a “veteran” individual in my age range climbs this final rung of the certification ladder.  My son took a lesson from Otto not so many years back.  Congrats to Otto (and other candidates recognized below)!

Here are some details from Spring 2016 PSIA-E newsletter:

Level III College

Our first Alpine Level III College was held at Killington this March. Fourteen Level II members gave their best during the first three days of exam preparation and the final two days of assessment. Rick Svencer and Keith Hopkins made sure these candidates skied every condition Killington had to offer. During the assessment on Thursday and Friday, five members were successful in all three performance areas, thus passing the Skiing Exam. Congratulations to Terence Barrett from Whiteface, Jon Lyons from Elk, Otto Matheke from Liberty Mountain, Robin Reid also from Liberty, and David Terney from Peek ‘n Peak. Join us in commending everyone who participated in this five-day event for their hard work, dedication, and determination! It was an intense week of skiing and coaching, and everyone should be proud of their efforts regardless of the outcome.

post #356 of 362
Terry B from Whiteface also got his L3 at that event and he is over 60.

Last year Ned made Easter Dev team north of 60
post #357 of 362
Originally Posted by Coach Z View Post

Terry B from Whiteface also got his L3 at that event and he is over 60.

Last year Ned made Easter Dev team north of 60

Ned is 71 this year.  I want to be just like him when I grow up.



post #358 of 362
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post

Ned is 71 this year.  I want to be just like him when I grow up.




I don't want to grow up at all.

post #359 of 362
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post


I don't want to grow up at all.


How's that ski instructor joke go?


What's the difference between a ski instructor and a mutual fund?

post #360 of 362

Age is just a number.  Keep fit, stay healthy and us old guys can pretty much keep up with most anyone.  Including passing PSIA Level III... I'm 70 and still kick'in ass..

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