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Level 3 exam criteria in PSIA-E and What am I doing here?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Well, to shorten a rather long story ,I have found myself in the mountains of N.C. , because my wife has been offered a postion at a local university and OH MY GOD SHE ACCEPTED !! So, rather than leave my beloved Rocky Mountains behind me, I contemplated divorce , then suicide; but decided instead to make the best of this situation. Believe it or not , they have skiing here and are hungry for experienced instructors (seems as though most of the locals would rather watch nascar then ski, no offence intended ) . Anyway , the SSD has expressed interest in having me do some training of their staff. There are a couple that want to go for their cert 3 and I really don't know what the requirements are here. In the RM , we have a list of required manuevers for the skiing part ( wedge christie, open parallel, short radius turns, moguls, railroad tracks, pivot slips, etc.) Is it the same in the east? The other thing I'm wondering about is is it even possible to train for level 3 at an area where they have no moguls, a 780' vertical and all man made snow ( I'm starting to get depressed thinking about it...) I hope it doesn't rain all the time. But what the heck, it's better than no skiing at all ? and I think I can still get out to Colorado for March since they close down here by then. Back to my questions; Should I accept a postion as staff trainer? and if I do is it possible to train someone for cert 3 with the limitations imposed by the terrain? The two have tried twice and failed and since I haven't even seen them ski I don't know if I can be any help or not. I'm not even sure I'll be able to ski that well on man made conditions. One things for sure, if I don't have anything positive to contribute to this little ski school , I would rather not make the commitment. On the other hand, it could be a lot of fun. Thoughts?
post #2 of 23
I don't even have my level 2, but I think if they can make a great short radius turn, they're almost there, and you can do that on the terrain you have. Maybe you can do a few field trips to work on other things. From what I have heard, bump skiing will be a big part of it, so you could come up north for a PSIA-E bump clinic if you need to work on that.

Which mountain are you with now?
post #3 of 23

Yes, it is possible to get through L3 skiing at small ski areas. I did it from a 960' mountain, and lots of other people have done it from similar or smaller mountains. Just look at what the people in the midwest have to work with.

One big advantage to being a trainer at a place like yours, is that it'll be about the only chance you'll get to teach upper level lessons. 90+% of your guests will be beginners and intermediates. So if you want the opportunity to teach upper levels, you usually need to be teaching the other pros.

You can download the Alpine study and exam prep guide from the web site www.psia-e.org (in the Education section). Peter Howard is the chairman of the Cert committee, and he may be able to help answer specific questions for you (if noone here can). He's always responded to my emails, so don't be afraid to contact him.
post #4 of 23

a bottle of pills, a small tight garage with no air leaks, a rubber hose, and a bottle of good scotch ought to fix your problem.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
It has been suggested to me that anyone who is as obsessed with skiing as I am is in serious need of counseling ; a suicide attempt would be all they need to lock me up in a rubber room. "They" just don't understand, do they? There's one other big factor in this scenario and that is the fact that I have a son who has two more years of high school. So I figure I can get through at least two winters here and after that .......... by the way, wasn't there an article in Ski magazine a while back about southern skiing ? Something about eating smoked hog's liver or some such thing ; I'll have to try it....
My "mountain" is ( or ,sob, was ) Purgatory -Durango,CO and they can probably survive a couple of winters without me on staff ( although it will be an extreme hardship for them.... ) The snow is good there, the people are great, views are spectactular, the pay is lousy and business drops off in January so there's plenty of free skiing but I'm not a millionaire so as my wife likes to remind me , " vacation's over ". Never marry a woman who doesn't ski.
Thanks for the info, if I decide to do this I will contact PSIA-E although I intend to keep my RM cert during my 'visit' here. I assume from Epic's post that mogul skiing is a part of both cert 2 and 3 exams here so I don't know how to deal with that. I guess when they do form on the massive 6" base here, they have to mash 'em so's no folks do a whoop de doo... ( Damn, my wife says I have to keep my sarcasm in check if I'm gonna make it here, where's the fun in that ? )
post #6 of 23
720', that's a lot by Midwest standards. We've produced a lot of good skiers with less.
The good news is that you get a lot of trials at the same error.

I know what you're going through though. My wife interviewed for a job in Bowling Green Kentucky.(thankfully she didn't get it)
post #7 of 23
Originally Posted by snowdancer
if I decide to do this I will contact PSIA-E although I intend to keep my RM cert during my 'visit' here. I assume from Epic's post that mogul skiing is a part of both cert 2 and 3 exams here so I don't know how to deal with that. I guess when they do form on the massive 6" base here, they have to mash 'em so's no folks do a whoop de doo... ( Damn, my wife says I have to keep my sarcasm in check if I'm gonna make it here, where's the fun in that ? )
Yes, bumps are part of the exams. In L2, they just have to be able to negotiate the bumps and survive with some dignity (falls are allowed), but in L3, you have to show that you can maintain the proper movement patterns when in bumps. At my ski area, they are notorius for mowing down the bumps (although they did let some grow last season). You'll also need to deal with the bumps that seem to be constructed of stainless steel. Probably not something you are used to.

Keep your sarcasm in check??? He!!, that's the only thing that'll keep you from drinking the Koolaide!

I can't imagine having to move from Durango to NC against your will. But I guess it could be worse. You could be in Florida. And NC has some pretty epic mountain biking, which could help keep you sane. Go check out the forums on MTBR.com (Mountain Bike Review).
post #8 of 23
It is possible to train at a small hill (I am from a whopping 240 vertical foot area) and I trained for both my 2 and 3 primarily at my home area. Getting exposure to bumps will be big, are there any other mountains/hills in the area with bumps that they can day trip to to train in the bumps?
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the words of encouragement, I'm putting my bike together today and going for a ride although it may be a bit muddy ( we just had a ton of rain from the hurricane in Florida, what a trip! ) . Also I found a website http://www.skinorthcarolina.com/ that claims last winter they got 100" at Beech Mtn which I think is only a couple of hours from Asheville. I don't know if they have any bumps on that mountain but maybe they'll pay my way to check it out.LOL. I guess if the two going to the exam can't ski bumps I can at least get them some high scores on their RR turns and pivot slips ! I checked out the PSIA-E website but can't find a list of specific manuevers or even a description of what the exam entails except that you have to pass the skiing part first before you can do the rest. Seems like you'd have to do this over two seasons ?
I guess I'll go pour the kool aid down the drain for now.

Just found this pic of a place in Tennessee; is this for real ? http://www.skinorthcarolina.com/2004..._02222004P.htm
post #10 of 23
Hey snowdancer, I`m from www.7springs.com check out this site for comps with your Area....I`m one of the level 3 trainors here...We have one eastern examiner and two DCL`s --totalling about 15 level 3`s---We have about 180 -200 weekend pro`s and 60 -70 fulltime /parttime weekday pro`s plus special project pro`s --tiny tots-Jr. ski--all day programs......You can train at your Area--those going for upper level have
to use their wits to improvise and work hard---they should attend the eastern prep events ---there should be some close to your area---I do know that we have them--the program will be out soon--contact EAstern at Latham N.Y.-----You do this and at the same time you will be surprised HOW much you will learn-----check with John H.---he might have some info re: his area. have fun, Larry C

P.S. You should be able to maintain your current assoc. status---I know that Eastern will accept updates from other associations--just make it known when you attend an eastern update---
post #11 of 23
North Carolina isn't that bad, and both Beech and Sugar Mountain are great by Mid Atlantic standards. Here's a link to skiresortguide.com that describes all of the NC resorts:


Which mountain down there are you considering teaching at?
post #12 of 23
I also took my L3 at Sunday River last year. We spent a fair amount of time in the bumps as Skiwswift has already mentioned.We also worked alot on the white pass turn,RR track and short radius turns.At the end of the exam Peter Howard gave a small speech on how he woild like to see more athletic skiing,encouraging canidates to train over the summer and basically get in better shape. I think about half of the canidates passed 3 out of 6 in my group(luckily I was one of them) 9 out of about 20 for the whole.
I was looking at the new events schedule for this coming season and all the L3 exams in the East are being held at hills that have challenging terrain. K-mart,Hunter, Sunday River,Cannon and Stowe.While I agree it is possible to train and pass L3 I think it is crucial to get to some of the bump clinics held at the bigger Mts.This will give your canidates an idea of what they will be taking there exam on.
The L3 standards can be found on the PSIA-E website-scroll down the home page and it has a section that includes the Alpine exam and study guide. Click on that and you will get the whole study guide. The Standards for L3 are on page 33. Hope this helps and good luck!
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
More encouraging news: The closest place to ski here is called Cataloochee - http://www.cataloochee.com/ and I talked to the SSD again for more details. He is Eastern DCL certified and there is one other cert 3 on staff who is also RM certified - don't know which mountain he's from. I would be doing staff training, new hire clinics and teaching general public lessons ( I would assume mostly beginners, but I taught plenty in Colorado so no big deal ). The hourly for cert 3 here is $15.-$17. and 50% on RPs ;that's pretty good plus they are finishing a brand new building that will house the ski school. They also offer quite a few local programs including a college ski academy and high school racing.
I spent over 90 days last winter above 8000' and averaged about $150. a week in earnings. Seems like every year of the last four or so has been slower and a lot of my Christmas regulars didn't show so that hurt, too. I guess the Summit / Eagle County areas still have more business than they can handle but how can a family afford to live there? Not to mention the cost of health insurance and gas prices jumping to $2. it's a wonder anyone can even afford to ski at all.
Thanks all for your responses.
post #14 of 23

Level III exam: Rocky Mountain and East

I did my Level III exam in the East. Afterwards I spoke to an examiner from Rocky Mountain Division. There are BIG differences.

RM division exam is much more structured. There are more examiners judging you. If you pass a unit, next time you do not have to retake it again. You judged on quite specific and uniform criteria. If you fail, you are given quite a detailed report, indicating specifically which portion you've failed, so you can focus on those area that need improvement.

In the East, taking Level III exam is like competing in figure skating or gymnastics. Everything is up to the examiner. There are no solid criteria. Ony your "overall" skiing is judged. If your skiing does not fit examiner's idea of good skiing, forget it. Prep clinic is a waste of time. All the exercises practiced in clinic are not part of the exam. Amazingly, for the duration of the whole exam, carving was not evaluated!

They are changing the system for the upcoming year again, but I do not expect anything better. You would have much better luck in Rocky Mountain Division.

Edited by rush614 - 2/23/11 at 4:00pm
post #15 of 23
In my experience the L3 exam prep was useful in providing an on snow outline of what to prepare for. The exercises were those which we were later asked to perform in the skiing portion of the exam. I went to the exam without any PSIA connections either. Another complaint I've heard has been an alleged age bias but I did the exam (sucessfully) at age 50. This was about 8 yrs ago. Somehow I doubt things have changed substantially. Theres no doubt there is a degree of subjectivity involved. I think this is why examiners are (hopefully) chosen and trained carefully. Personally I prefer this to turning the exam into some kind of machine but I know they sometimes get it wrong. Incidently one of those who successfully passed the exam while I took it (teaching portion) was from the Asheville area. I don't remember the name but a very good skier and a good guy.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Sorry to hear about your exam experience but until last year, RM was totally subjective with just one examiner evaluating both teaching and skiing. I failed the skiing part the first time I took the level 3 exam and was pretty upset about it. When I decided to really work on the things the examiner saw in my skiing, I improved dramaticaly. It took hundreds of hours of practice and lots of critique ( it gets hard to take after a while) but I finally got there. When I retook the exam it seemed easy because I was relaxed and confident. I passed with high scores.They changed the format for RM last season because the education staff felt that it was unfair to candidates to only have one evaluator. I guess they had a lot of complaints. Now each manuever is seen by two examiners and both have to give passing scores. If you fail one area , you have to retake just that manuever again. But you have to pass 100% and few were able to do that last season. Previous to the new format, if you were weak in one area but scored high in another, you could still pass. Plus they threw in a half pipe manuever that really has a lot of people upset. So I don't think the level 3 exam is a cakewalk in any division. I also believe that if there are flaws in your skiing , not only will the examiner see it, but you will know it yourself. It basically comes down to this: If you are lacking in one or more of the skill areas ( steering, pressure management, edging , flexing, extending... ) then you get out of balance and have to do some type of corrective move to recover. I call this type of skiing "linked recoveries". Problems can also come from poor fitting boots and untuned skis. But what the examiner sees is a body in balance throughout the entire manuever or someone struggling to maintain an upright postion. It's very hard to accept when you've put in so much effort, I know, but if it's a goal worth pursuing, don't give up! Only you can decide if it's worth the effort.
post #17 of 23
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy

a bottle of pills, a small tight garage with no air leaks, a rubber hose, and a bottle of good scotch ought to fix your problem.

I'm with Rusty Guy on this. : We both came from what you're headed to. 15 attemped seasons of skiing there sucked - and I'm a native from one of those western NC towns that aren't on the map there. Even my brothers drive to WV rather than ski there- and one's in Charlotte. If you are one of the rare CO natives, you are going to learn the terms "bullet-proof" and "got my edges sharp". You are also going to learn a whole new vocabulary. I suggest purusing the book "How to speak Southern". My next door neighbor just moved there and he said he had to continually ask people to repeat things as he couldn't understand them during the job interview. It will make you appreciate CO all the more when you move back. Good Luck :

On the good side: the backpacking around the Pidgeon River/Cold Mountain area can't be beat-just fabulous. Check out the Brevard area and all the artist studios around Asheville.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
If I was 20 years younger and single, I guess my life would revolve around skiing . Been there, done that. In fact, I haven't ever gone a full winter in 40 years without getting at least one weekend on the snow ( even when I was in Florida one year ). And I've been knee deep in the powder more days in one season then most people get in a lifetime. A good friend of mine is in a cancer treatment center in Boston right now and another had his leg shattered in a collision; he'll be lucky to walk again, let alone ski. I'm going to miss Colorado but I've lived in places lots worse than here.All things considered, I don't have anything to complain about.
post #19 of 23

You can do it!


While you are on your "hiatus" in NC, take advantage of it. And WHEN you return to RM, you'll have a level of experience many Trainer Accred and DCL candidates would kill for! Be creative, be imaginative, and you'll be successful! Believe it or not, good skiing doesn't really change with geography... Stick to the basics, fundamentals never go out of style!

Back in the late 80's, I was recuperating from a very severe leg injury. The Doc's were suggesting that I take a season or two off my skis, while getting my strength back. But the head of the Vail/ Beaver Creek Ski School at the time, Chris Ryman, asked me to take over the ski school at a small feeder resort Vail had just picked up. It was called Ski Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs (now referred to as "Ski Nomoor"). A monster hill, 600' vertical, two trails, with one old decrepit double chair and a mighty mite on the "race hill". Springs bubbled up through the ground, freezing into giant sheets of clear ice, animals were colliding with skiers during the evenings, and drunk GI's were constantly being peeled off the uphill wall of the skilodge.

At first I was a bit shocked at the size and state of the area, but it was better than living in a cubicle for 2 years. I then determined to make the best of this situation, and offer my staff the very best I had.

When I took this position, I had been an examiner for 10 years. But training at Ski Broadmoor was a real challenge! It tested every clinicing skill I had ever developed. Limited terrain, limited time, limited snow... these are a clinicians worst nightmares. Working in this environment certainly changed my outlook on what effective and efficient training was all about... And we ended up having a 100% pass rate at all 3 levels the last two years the area was operating.

So, in the end, it's the attitude of the trainer which will have a greater impact on the trainees, than the size of the hill the training is performed on.

We'll look forward to your return to RM one day, and I'm sure you'll be ready for the Trainer Accred Tryouts... In the meantime- "Give 'em hell!"
post #20 of 23
If all else fails, you can always opt for the "long distance marriage" thing!
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the encouraging words and advice. No one from the ski area I'll be working at has ever passed the level 3 exam here and only a few have made level 2. I've been fortunate enough to ski with the very best in the world. The people I worked and trained with in Colorado are absolutely the finest skiers on the planet and if a tiny fraction of that rubbed off on me, I hope to share it. It should be (as they say here..) 'innerestin'.
The long distance thing might be an option ... as soon as I can afford it! Like the Govenator says" I'll be Back!"
post #22 of 23
Maybe I can be of some help here.Cataloochee is not a place for instruction . Very crowded and icy. Wolf Laurel ( about 1/2 hour from Asheville ) is somewhat primative but on occasion has good bumps but call an instructor there to get the conditions. Alpine Ski Shop in Banner Elk will be a source of info. Donavon Carroll is the manager and a pro mogul skier.He also coaches a local college race team and would be of some help in finding terrain to instruct on.
NC Marc
post #23 of 23
I think the level III at Chataloochie is Chip Cox who used to work at Eldora. Nice guy and good skier. If that is who it is tell him I said hello.
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