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A few random PSIA questions from north of the border

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, I'm a CSIA II up here in Canada, and I had some questions about the PSIA, that I tried searching for. Since I'm in Vancouver, I'm pretty close to the border and my nearest PSIA dvision is NW, and for a while I've been contemplating getting certified in the PSIA just for fun and to see what it's like in a different system. However, as far as I can tell from reading various websites, it's not apparent if I can do that without actually becoming employed by a snow school first. (A US based snow school that is. I instruct at two different resorts here in BC)


So I guess my questions are, am I correct that you can't do a L1 in PSIA-NW without being part of a snow school? In the CSIA, they'll let any warm body do any course if you meet the prerequisites, even if you're not actively part of a snow school.


Follow up question is, are there other PSIA divisions that don't have this restriction?



Final extra credit question, is I've read that different divisions have different standards. Which division is considered the "easiest" and which one is the "hardest?" (I don't plan on going all the way to some random division across the continent just to get an easier exam, just curious!)



Thanks everyone!




Edited by FlyingFish - 3/5/15 at 8:49pm
post #2 of 11
I think you can join a division and take the LI exam. You may be required to have ski school experience to take a LII exam, depending upon division policies. Check with the division office for specifics.

You also might want to look into credit for your Canadian cert.

Theoretically, each division's education staff gets trained to examine to a national standard. However, each region of the country has it's own weather and terrain circumstances that may or may not make the exam 'easier' in some way.

PSIA holds an examiner college after the national academy each year and a fall gathering to which each division sends representatives to try to standardize examining nationally.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you Kneale for that very thorough answer! 


This'll all give me something to look into in the summer. For the rest of this season, just need to survive whats left of the snow here in the PNW...

post #4 of 11



There are plenty of instructors here in the US that have dual cert with CSIA. You should find yourself welcomed (and eligible for certification) in any PSIA division based on your Canadian employment. There have been rumors about 1 or 2 divisions passing some pros who have failed in other divisions, but as Kneale has stated there is an active effort to level the playing field as much as possible. For levels 1 and 2 cert, this should not be a concern anyway. To my knowledge, Level 1 cert has a 95%+ pass rate nationwide. Although it is "easy", someone who only has a CSIA 1 cert, no further preparation and no teaching experience would have a significantly higher chance of failing (my guess would be 15-20% instead of 5%). Actual teaching experience is hard to fake. One of the purposes of the PSIA 1 exam is to introduce the instructor into the PSIA "system". Another goal of the cert exam is to make it a pleasant, low stress experience. Although the certification is "easy", the formula for preparation for passing (i.e. developing organizational, teaching and technical knowledge plus enhancing personal skiing skills) is the same for all levels of certification. Although most divisions offer "fast tracks" (i,e. the ability to skip levels of certification) for people with equivalent experience, some people (no names mentioned Glen Plake) have taken the level 1 exam to get the "full experience". My guess is that the PSIA-NW division would welcome you to skip the level 1 exam (with the expectation of equivalent self study to catch up on the US specific stuff) and start directly with level 2 prep courses (you may or may not be required to join and pay dues as an uncertified member). Many divisions do have a small number of uncertified members. They pay dues and can attend most clinic events and get discounts on manuals, gear, etc. but they do not have to be employed by a resort (US or otherwise). 


PSIA-NW does have a "registered level" and a "written exam". You may also be interested in the PSIA-NW Level 1 study guide. I recommend calling the PSIA-NW office and asking for their advice. I also recommend getting a copy of the new alpine technical manual.

post #5 of 11
Having spent last weekend skiing with a CSIA level 4 and discussing some of the differences between CSIA and PSIA, it appears to me that PSIA places greater emphasis on the theories of learning and on movement analysis. CSIA may place greater emphasis on skiing. But it could be just anecdotes, the plural of which is data.

post #6 of 11

You would be unable to join PSIA in Eastern Division. Since you're in Vancouver it doesn't matter, but you wanted info. In Eastern Division, you need to be employed by a PSIA member school in order to join. Since you work in Canada, your mountains aren't PSIA member schools. PSIA is starting an Affiliate program, which has no employment or experience requirements, but I doubt that program will allow you to pursue a certification. I have a feeling it will just be to access some PSIA clinics. 

post #7 of 11
In the Nordic world you don't need to be employed by a ski school, at least in the east. You will need a signature from a qualified person for exams though, usually an examiner, club director or ski school director. If you are into a Nordic disipline you could join a ski club and essentially get in through the back door. Once in, you can jump between disiplines pretty easily.
post #8 of 11
In respect to the differing difficulty of exams in various divisions, the nw division is considerably easier than other divisions. People who fail exams here in the western division go up to nw exams and pass easily. I've been a member in both divisions and noticed a pretty significant difference in the exams. I know people in the nw who have level 3's who would be a long ways from passing here. It's widely known here that it's an easy division but it seems like the people in the nw don't realize that other divisions consider it a weak division. Saddens me because I love skiing in the nw and have a large number of friends from that area.
post #9 of 11

Welcome to Epicski, @pwdrproliteriat


I have a question for you.  It sounds like you are saying that skiing with your friends at a pacific north west ski area feels less fun and causes you to experience sadness -- because the PSIA Level III instructors at that mountain's ski school may have gotten their pins more easily than in other regions.


I bet you didn't really mean to imply that.  Are you an instructor?  Or do you take lessons regularly?

Edited by LiquidFeet - 4/8/15 at 5:29pm
post #10 of 11
Prol, I'm an L3 from the PNW. While I have no business speaking for all and don't ride the 'toot my own horn' wagon, for a moment I will. I'm confident I ski to current standard across all divisions. I've seen L3's from a handful of other divisions. IMHO, much depends on when they took their exams, if they've stayed motivated to keep learning, how active they are in their teaching/training, etc... Many ski to standard, some not so much. The strong L3's I know personally would have no trouble skiing with you or your friends, or passing your exam. If I ever go to CA or anywhere else for that matter to teach, I'd be happy to be evaluated by the training staff if they have concerns about the validly of my pin. They can bump me down if they find me lacking... I certainly don't want anything unearned or deemed as 'less'. What I think can be said is that the NW doesn't have any true destination resorts, and as such, wouldn't attract people to seek out the NW as a place to earn as much money as say, Deer Valley, Aspen, Jackson,etc... I have friends who've migrated to RM for better earning potential. They seem to think their skiing holds up just fine and have done well for themselves. If you're in the NW, give me a PM. I'm pretty sure we could obviate some of your sorrows. smile.gif

(I also think Bob Barnes addressed your broader L3 concerns superbly after your 1st post to epicski.)
post #11 of 11
Found this in the Northern Rockies regulations:

37.1.3. INTERNATIONALLY CERTIFIED APPLICANTS. Canadian Alpine instructors, Level II, III, and IV, who are current members in good standing of CSIA, may transfer to a PSIA/AASI division and be recognized at one numerical level below their Canadian status (IV to III, III to II, II to I), if they pay current national and divisional dues and attend an appropriate educational event (as determined by each division).
Alpine instructors who hold the highest available level of certification in another country and who are current, in-good-standing members of said country’s professional association, may become members of a PSIA/ AASI division, provided that they first attend and pass a divisional entry level event/exam and pay current divisional and national dues.They may then bypass any time restrictions and interim prerequisite levels and are immediately eligible to attempt the Level III process.There is no automatic reciprocity or recognition of levels, nor consideration for those holding lower levels of certification.
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