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Two less people in PSIA

post #1 of 156
Thread Starter 
The past week-end my friend Steve took his LII exam and I had to get one credit to keep my active status, etc... My friend only passed his teaching part, but I shadowed him during his first day... Examiner told him "solid skiing", "nice
shaping of turns", "great upper body position". Then he failed him for not having a simultaneus edge change all the times. Now, in my opinion, this is fair (they must have failed at least half of the people in his group if that's the case), but then do not bullsh.. the candidates with all those "compliments" you don't mean. Just tell them the truth : "get on those new edges simultaneously or you fail", don't give them the illusion for when you fail out of the blue, it is painful.
This did it for me: after seeing Steve's disappointment written all other his face
(this guy can ski down double black diamonds in the Rockies with some grace and style and has been a friend and a ski mate of mine (I am level III) for a long time without slowing me down much) for he basically took it as "you ski bad". I decided that I am done with PSIA and with the way they do things. I will not pay my dues the next time, I will get out of teaching and I will spend my time skiing with my friends who may not shape their turns nicely, who may not be skiing a black run on a single ski, etc.. but they are fun. And, I may try the PMTS thing, as long as it does not become another PSIA kind of stuff where you are always "good", "great", "incredible" and then they fail you because you are either "too good, too great, too incredible" or they just say things they don't mean.
This issue has been big with me for some time now.. the past week-end events cause it to happen. My friend Steve decided to quit both PSIA and the Ski School as well and perhaps will join a local racing league where at least instead of spending his hours on snow practicing task, can get some skiing done. I am pretty sure that a couple of other friends of ours, after our decision, will likely follow us. We have skied together for years, they know me and Steve and even if both are just level II, they both think that Steve can ski at par with them so both were quite surprise when I called them yesterday to let them know that our friend Steve was given a "pprrrrr" sign by PSIA examiners.
post #2 of 156
Man are those guys uptight! In all my years of skiing, racing, coaching, patrolling, and watching worldcup videos, the concept of simultaneous edge change never came up. No wonder I can't make it through most of the PSIA type technical posts.
post #3 of 156
Thread Starter 
My point is just "be honest". You are a dealing with a person and not a dummy. If he or she can ski with grace a steep run, in my book it is a pass. The strategy at PSIA has been for a while to let everybody in at level I so they bring in some $$ through the annual fees, certification clinics, etc... and them hit them hard at level II and almost distroy them at level III. I have seen people getting level I who could hardly avoid stemming every single turn entry. That diminished the achievement of those who did get level I and were good parallel skiers. But, ultimately, proves what skiers really are to their division: a form of revenues and not persons. So, that is my reason to finally say "enough is enough" and throw my patch in the woods if only I can find it.
post #4 of 156
This is just the currently favored attitude toward movement analysis that you are encouraged to use with your students ie emphasize the positive. Its an often ambiguous presentation that produces a mixed reaction. Imagine how some of your students may feel about how they've been treated if you as an instructor find it offensive.
post #5 of 156
Originally posted by Newfydog
Man are those guys uptight! In all my years of skiing, racing, coaching, patrolling, and watching worldcup videos, the concept of simultaneous edge change never came up. No wonder I can't make it through most of the PSIA type technical posts.
Whew! thanks for that Newfydog, I was thinking it was just me being a dumbass that couldn't get to grips with them! :
post #6 of 156
JohnSki, I feel for your friend Steve and for you. It really stinks that you'd find this level of attitude and I certainly understand your response, too. I go back and forth myself, and have a similar experience at times (was "given" a "9 or 10" in "level III" bumps at a clinic only to barely pass with a 6 during the level II exam).

There are certainly different concepts in the minds of examiners regarding what they are doing in exams (in my limited experience). The main reason that I plan to continue as a PSIA member is to participate with others that I have met who have similar perspectives to mine: it's about increasing the fun factor by more effective skiing--especially as I get older and want to keep skiing at higher levels.
post #7 of 156
Just my personal opinion here..... I think encouragement and emphasis on the positive are good things in a teaching situation. These things encourage learning. However, in an exam situation, examinees want to hear it like it is. I haven't come across one examinee, myself included, who wants the truth sugar coated on exam day. As an examinee, I am already pretty stressed. I don't want to expend energy trying to read between all the accolades in figuring out if what I am doing is really meeting the grade. That "Nice goggles, but your skiing sucks" routine doesn't cut it with me when I am being examined. If you think my skiing sucks, just tell me my skiing sucks. I can take it. I don't give a hoot if you like my goggles.
post #8 of 156
Originally Posted by oisin
This is just the currently favored attitude toward movement analysis that you are encouraged to use with your students ie emphasize the positive. Its an often ambiguous presentation that produces a mixed reaction. Imagine how some of your students may feel about how they've been treated if you as an instructor find it offensive.
This "Always say a positive thing first" all the time is rubbish. Some folks I know that were enrolled in an 8 week lesson program don't even hear the positive part anymore, it's just noise and gets ignored until the instructor gets around to the real info.

To them, the praise is useless -- The quote from a certain novice: "I don't need to know what I'm doing right - I'm know I am doing very little right. I'm here to fix what is wrong -- it's my first season. I'd appreciate the instructor to tell me exactly what I did wrong on that run. That way I can try to avoid doing it in the future."

To this novice, the instructor is part of the feedback loop. Adding vacuous praise into the loop is distracting. The novice would prefer video analysis. This novice saw their shadow when they were skiing. It showed that they were skiing like a statue. The instructor was saying "More movement!", which implied there was some to begin with, but there was infact, none. The ambiguity made that skier very angry.

It is the instructors honest analysis and help that this student wanted -- not their "empty praise".
post #9 of 156
Good point, josseph! Basically, it's avoiding the truth or deceiving by omission. Examiners know that the students desire is to pass, so in any part of the exam, the feedback is important, not the least because not every examiner looks for the same things. Personally, I think that the examiners should give feedback to enable anyone capable to pass. It should be an enabling exercise, not trickery.

In PSIA-RM, this is the stated philosophy. That some examiners approach it differently, I do not doubt. I skied with two other level IIs this past week. Given that I received 6s on every skiing maneuver, I do not see how either of them passed skiing. But, they did. They clearly had different examiners than I did. In one case, they took the exam twice within a couple of months, and their view is that the examiner made the difference much more than a change in their skiing.
post #10 of 156
This is huge error by the examiner. In a exam situation there should be no feedback what so ever. Any feedback can be viewed as coaching....Therefore, PSIA has made strong attempts to eliminate it. They have changed the exam format and eliminated the 'coaching' portion during the exam process.

-THE STANDARD- foundation for level II skiing is simulataneous edge change.
That being said....Usually, the performance of a candidate is evaluated by 3 seperate examiners. The above states the circumstances surrounding 1. What was the feedback from the other 2?

In discussing the exam process with examiners on my 'home' hill (there are 3).....They agree upon one thing. There are a lot of candidates that can ski to the standard of the 'level' being tested......Yet, for some it exam anxiety...or whatever.....many candidates seem to sabotage themselves resulting in weaker skiing dynamics during evaluation.

A letter of your concerns with documentation of the event and the name of the examiner in question should be forwarded to PSIA.
post #11 of 156

My humble and inexperienced opinion would be to fight it out to see change. PSIA is not a perfect organization, but can it be fixed? Can it be helped? Its kinda like a restaurant, it's not if I get bad food it's how they take care of me once they know about it.

You seem like an excellent skier and someone with passion for others. Maybe you could take your remaining time in PSIA and try to really address the issue and fight for change? If your somewhat successful maybe you’ll stay and we will all benefit?...

I'm sure there are other instructors coming up the ranks who will experience the dissapointment that you just did, right? So in your sphere of influence see what can be done. I'll guarantee (money back ) that if you do in the end you'll feel better about it.

Oh well... if I'm ever out there again I'm sure you would be great fun to ski with, and that’s the point!

post #12 of 156
Thread Starter 
I am happy to see that feelings run deeper than what I originally thought. I am not here to suggest that people drop out of PSIA. I am going to do it, but that's me.
Each of us is intellingent enough to choose his or her own path.

There are national standards: either you meet them or you don't. Fair and square. One accepts it when he/she decides to play the game. Decide if you want to ski or just work at meeting standards and ski all alike. But be warned that there is nobody that could guarantee that those standards will be applied exactly in the same way by each examiner.

To me, personally, there is an easy criterion to decide who passes and who does not.

level 1: ski a blue run in control, you can skid turns, but if you wedge you fail.
level 2: ski a black run in control, show rythm and speed control. Run could be even ungroomed or bumped up.
level 3: ski a (real) double black run in control, etc.. It is OK if the run has some or lots of bumps.

Exams will take place on runs that are to meet certain criteria of pitch and width. If none is available in the Central division, then they go somewhere else to take the exam. I am Central and I do not care. We ski like in the former Soviet Union, all the same. Whenever we go to the Rockies they spot us. They have great skiers there and each has his or her own personality.

For example: you want to be level 3 in the Eastern division. You are going to ski Goat at Stowe, from top to bottom: traverse you fail, fall and you fail, get out of speed and you fail.

Then, if we want and probably should, less look at the teaching.

I am positive that a skier will never pass level 1, 2, or 3 unless most technical elements are in place and in the measure they are needed.
post #13 of 156
JohnSki, I do think that the ability to accurately demo the teaching maneuvers is important. However, assuming that you're only focusing on the application maneuvers, I basically agree with you: I don't think that it is difficult to judge the application of skills at the level that you're discussing with this kind of an approach. However, of course, people who fail while thinking that are doing those things would want more objective measures, I fear.

Sounds like another divisional difference to me...

PSIA-RM focuses on maintaining personality in our skiing. In fact, one of the comments an examiner has made to me is that they need to decide whether a particular action is a reflection of skiing personality or a technical flaw. They do not remove points for the former.
post #14 of 156
Originally Posted by ssh
PSIA-RM focuses on maintaining personality in our skiing. In fact, one of the comments an examiner has made to me is that they need to decide whether a particular action is a reflection of skiing personality or a technical flaw. They do not remove points for the former.
Ssh, I am rather interested in what you are saying about personality/technical flaw. I think I know what a flaw is, but when is a quirk not a flaw but a personality? Mind giving us a few examples of what might be a personality and not a flaw?
post #15 of 156
Here's my impression of PSIA and the instructor gig in general:

1. Lots of standing around in circles talking, make 2 turns, talk some more. Follow me for 2 turns and talk some more about those 2 turns.

2. If you are an attractive young female you will pass, unless you can't snowplow. If you are an attractive young male who skis well you are a threat to the examiner as in a few years you will improve and take his/her job so you get failed.

3. Open pocket, pay dues, watch PSIA get rich. Wait for collection agency to call because you are so far in debt from making $7.00/hr. and have no money that you can't pay any bills.

These examiners have to deal with heavy egos, on both sides, student and teacher. Some students think they rip when they don't. Some examiners think their poopoo doesn't stink, when it does.

When you're good you'll know it and start receiving complements no you skiing ability and have examiners asking you to come join the ski school and teach. I'd rather go skiing and not deal with all the BS.
post #16 of 156
Your last paragraph states the best way to develop great ski schools. It's kind of the old way. The local ski legends run the show.
post #17 of 156
Ah, the good ol' days when men were men and they never taught a lesson but skied for free their whole lives.
post #18 of 156
John, this post really caught my eye because I’ve had a 30 year love-hate relationship with the organization. And this year I finally thought I’d take my level II skiing. In the end though, I bailed for one more season…..psychological fear from experiences like your friend’s experience. I really understand what you are saying.

Personally, I currently think PSIA is an outstanding organization and provides us with great resources to continually improve our own skiing abilities. The courses I’ve taken in the past 4 years or so have all been super. The problem I think comes from trying to quantify what is subjective and qualitative. The bottom line is each examiner is an individual and no matter how non-prejudiced they try to be, they are ultimately giving their opinion. Sure, they’re looking for something…you’re either on edge or not, moving to the turn or not, etc. But within those guidelines, there is a lot of individuality in what people also see, no matter how much movement analysis one masters.

I wish there were a true black and white way to test certain skills. I also wish we’d look at skiing and ski teaching as an art, not a science. I’m really sorry you and your friend had such a bad experience.
post #19 of 156
Originally Posted by josseph
ssh, I am rather interested in what you are saying about personality/technical flaw. I think I know what a flaw is, but when is a quirk not a flaw but a personality? Mind giving us a few examples of what might be a personality and not a flaw?
I'm not an examiner, so I'm not exactly sure. I'm repeating what I have been told, however. I expect that some of this has to do with the skill level of the skier versus the application of those skills in different situations. One of the level III instructors that I know fell at the feet of his examiner during one of the maneuvers for his level III cert (carved turns, if I remember right). He was pushing the envelope, but clearly (according to the examiner) demonstrated a solid grasp of the skills and was scored high as a result.

I giggled my way down the off-piste maneuver (18" of cut up powder over bumps on a black diamond run off the T-bar at Breck) during my level II skiing and finished with a big 'ol grin on my face. "Wow!" said I, "I really love skiing this!" "I couldn't tell," commented the examiner with a bit of a roll of the eyes. He passed me--barely.

I guess the point is this: here in PSIA-RM, the application maneuvers should demonstrate personality and love for the sport while also showing the examiner a solid grasp of the skiing skills and their application. Choice of line, use of the skills, etc. is a reflection of the skier. Each skier on the slope should not look like all the others. Doing so is mechanical and not a characteristic of real skiing.
post #20 of 156
BTW, another thing that PSIA-RM has changed this year is that two examiners score every skiing maneuver, even for level II. This helps remove some of that bias. For teaching, we had two examiners, one each for adult and child. They got together at day's end to come up with the ultimate scores.
post #21 of 156
See my thread on LIII exam format changes.

I understand in the future, PSIA W is considering moving this to the LII format as well.

The skiing portion of the exam would be fully coached until the very end of the module. Then the evaluation would be made. Pass or fail, the candidate would have plenty of feed back and go away with a lot more info and direction.
post #22 of 156
oh, and sorry to hear about you and your friend. It's sad to hear about bad experiences from an organization you have to work with.

post #23 of 156
Well ya, they taught lessons but there wasn't an organization straight jacket on good skiing. Are you telling me that you've never taught anyone?
post #24 of 156
Thread Starter 
At the end of day, the point is that if you can ski double black runs (i.e. expert terrain) in the Rockie resorts and you do not make level II there are two only possible explanations in my opinion:

- either L 2 requires such a high level of skiing skills that I am sure all current
PSIA L2 certified skiers are close to phenomenal;
- or the standards don't work.

And that does not even close all loopholes.. for example, who is a more qualified skier: one who can perform a perfect open parallel on blue groomers or one who can ski less perfectly on a double black bump run? If you are a student which instructor do you choose? The perfect open parallel on blue groomers or the guy who can jump off a cliff and ski down to the ski school? I am 50 and, let me be honest, my bones hardly would allow me to jump off a mogul leave alone a cliff, but I know the guy I want to sky with, oh yes I do.. the cliff jumper. That's my point. A national standard must qualify skiers and not tasks. At least in my way to look at the issue.
post #25 of 156

First off, we'd hate to see you leave teaching because of this. Hopefully, you've had enough great moments and comraderie from teaching that you can separate those out from bad experiences with PSIA. Your relationship with PSIA should not solely define what you get from your teaching experience. The smiles you get from your students should.

Harald Harb has made it pretty clear he does not want PMTS to become another PSIA.

Your friend had only one examiner for his level 2 exam? In the Eastern region we have 3. You can fail one examiner and still pass the exam. Although most regions attempt to make their exams "examiner neutral", there are lots of stories of people taking retakes and passing.

The exam process is not foolproof. There are people that pass that should not. There are also people that should pass that don't. Because there is no "redo" for the first case and there is for the second, we'd ideally like to see more mistakes of the second case then the first. Of course, we'd rather not see any mistakes. But if you fall into the second category, you should not feel angry about the people who fell into the first category. Take the confidence you had into the retake and expect to pass. The error rate should not be so high that you get hit twice in a row. Steve's got a pertinent observation about people passing retakes. John - does your friend do "simultaneous edge change" all the time or not? If he does not, then help him get there. If he does, then help him understand that he should not waste of all his prep efforts by giving up. Whether you pass or fail an exam, you should be a better teacher and a better skier afterwards. That's yours to keep no matter what. But if you should have passed and did not, then it ought to be easy to finish the journey despite the bump in the road.

Then there's always the possibility that the examiner was right. Being a strong skier and being graceful on double blacks does not necessarily qualify you for level 2. Going into an exam you yourself have the most reponsibility for being your toughest critic. All of the evaluation criteria are out there for you to apply against yourself. Simultaneous edge change is right there in the "visual cues" material. Of course it helps a ton if you have a mentor who can quality check your own assessments. I've seen a few people fail exams and find out the hard way that the examiners were right when they fail a second or third time.

I've done a fair amount of work with video analysis at my school. When I introduce someone to video, the hardest thing to deal with is getting them to get over "how bad they look" when they see themselves. I always start out with the positive stuff because they are starting to tune out. They know that the "Oh God do I suck" problem can be solved by the "I can definitely ski better than that" solution. When you point out the things that they are doing well, they start to realize that no matter how bad the overall picture looks to them, they don't suck all that bad. Once we get the analysis down to the details of what is working, what needs to improve and how it can be improved, the "I can ski better than that" approach can actually work because now there is something more than willpower there to let it happen. My experience has proven that the "focus on the good stuff first" approach works. When you realize how it easy for examiners to point out your faults and how devastating such criticism CAN be, it's easy to see why they focus on the positive issues and try to limit their negative criticism to (what they view as) the highest priority things to work on.

If your friend walks away from the exam process without knowing the real cause for his failure (e.g. he had a bad day, the examiner made a mistake, or what the root cause of the simultaneous edge issue is and why it was not noticed earlier) was, then he's missing out on a valuable learning opportunity. Getting mad at PSIA because of this is doing a disservice to your friend and to your potential future students. It is within your power to turn this into a positive experience.
post #26 of 156
the rusty,
You have a very balanced view on the subject. But remember this stuff costs time and money; so getting rejected is not just an emotional drain, but it's also kind of a waste of both. I think the people who take this exam think they're ready. If you're an examiner, however, I suppose you see all kinds. If I were the ski god, I'd have a bunch of people to ski down the hill several hundred yards to me. Then, like a cop outside his car directing the traffic, I'd point to either the 3 side or the 2 side of me. It would cost 10 bucks for the run - no checks or VISA cards.
post #27 of 156
Thread Starter 
My friend Steve passed one day, with an examiner shadowing the actual examiner giving him lots of good feedback. Simply put, Steve can really crank the engine when he gets going on medium long radius turns. Another day he failed because of the task, he simply sucked at pivot slips for he thought he was supposed to do them at low speed and so he did them extremely slowly which we all know will make it much harder not to show a wedge when you do the inversion. And similarly falling leaf he did not do too well in doing the 180 (which, by the way, it is not required by national standards from level II candidates!!) for the same reason that he kept doing them too slowly. At the end of the day, I took him out and he did a few at higher speeds and the problem disappeared. During the first day, he failed skiing because of non simultaneous edge change. The examiner talked to him and told him he was borderline and he would have to decide if below or above for national standards. He decided "below" as it is clear by now.

The fact, however, is that the instructor who passed him did not give him any feeback at all. One told him about edge change issues but said that everything else looked great. The third examiner could only fail him because of pivot slips and falling leaf for I was there that day and I heard the guy saying "grande! I could feel the smoke on my ears when you came by" or when he did his one ski skiing " wow... you were ripping" ..

I am not blaming these examiners although I have reasons to suspect they are not as pure souled as they could be, but the process. Why should a guy who can ski a double black (and not roll down from it!) not be good enough to get his level II when in Central division there are plenty who have not even skied a true double black run ever?
post #28 of 156
Sir Turnalot: Yeah, never taught a lesson because I never joined ski school because while all the instructors were standing around talking I was having fun skiing and I'd see them all in a circle in the same place on the same trail still standing there talking and...
post #29 of 156
Thread Starter 
And let me add one thing Rusty. There is one guy who went for level III. I talked to him and he was euphoric. He was 100% convinced he passed it. He said the feeback was great each of the 3 days. One examiner went even so far to pronounce his group, the best level 3 group he ever had to examine!!!! Well, this guy failed. He was stunned. He could hardly talk for 20 minutes. He simply could not believe that he did not pass. Candidates MUST come out of this exams feeling they have been valued in the right way. No need of cheerleading or false statements about their skiing only to get good review forms.
post #30 of 156
Where was the exam conducted at JohnSki?
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