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Blatant troll: Midwest sucks!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
In PSIA-W you can hold a level 1 or 2 exam pretty much anywhere that has snow and enough candidates to pay the fees. However, Level 3 exams are only held at certain mountains. Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, Mammoth, Sqauw, and Alpine Meadows are the usual suspects. For those of us in Southern California, this means that we have to trek up to Mammoth to take a Level 3 exam. This is apparently PSIA-W policy, since they will not hold a Level 3 exam at any Sourthern California resort, even if there is sufficient demand (with one exception: a few years back during a big snow year, an exam was held at Bear Mountain, but those who witnessed the exam reported that a number of candidates passed when they should have failed). This seems to be a pretty reasonable policy since it is difficult to gauge an instructors steep skiing skills when there is no steep terrain to be found.

I was thinking about this the other day, and realized that there are no mountains in the midwest that have terrain comparable to the mountains used for our exams. Most midwest mountains seem to be similiar to the Southern California resorts in the most terrain is wide open cruisers, with the occasional steeper bump run added in. This implies that Level 3 instructors from the midwest have not been tested to the same standard as those from the West (or East even). This led me to the following equation:

Midwest Level 3 = West level 2.5



OK, so the above is a pretty obvious troll, and while I would love to see a monster flame war break out over this, I don't think that's going to happen. Instead I'm actually pretty curious as to your thoughts on what role terrain plays in the examination process. Is it really possible to hold a Level 3 exam on overrated intermediate terrain? Is the focus of the exam shifted? Since I'm a Level 2 in the West, do I get to look down my nose at all you flatlanders?

(The last question was purely rhetorical. Of course I do!)
post #2 of 24
You're clearly talking about the level 3 skiing portion of the exam. I do not know PSIA well, but it may be true that those in the mid-west taking the exam may have to travel to a larger area (more toward the east). Most NY skiers go to Whiteface or into Vermont, and I would assume that most PA skiers head in the same direction. Contrary to what you may believe the midwest produces some very good skiers. Despite not having the terrain that you spoiled western skiers have they are very good skiers. How is that possible? Well, the conditions that these people ski in day to day are awful. So, the test I'm sure is quite different, but tests the skills of the skier regardless. This is only the skiing portion of course (which in my opinion is pretty easy and would actually find it easier out west on real snow - ski the same pitches that you ski out west but cover them in 8 inches of blue ice), and then there is also the written/test portion of the L3.

I think an examiner can tell if the person trying to get their level 3 cert is ready or not. Often there is no better place to pick apart a skiers technique than on an icy eastern/midwestern groomer. I bet some of the western 1's, 2's, and 3's would end up with brown shorts if they came to the east or midwest to ski on a blue ice day, so its all relative I suppose. I don't know exactly what the test is comprised of, but the only thing you may not be able to test in the mid-west is powder, and if you even think you are a level 3 caliber instructor you better @ss know how to ski powder or stop wasting the examiner's time.

Later

GREG

EDIT: BTW, I wouldn't look down your nose at flat landers. Many of them can ski pretty well. Since they ski at small areas on limited terrain there is nothing to do but get really really really good at technique. Give them exposure to some terrain to play on and look out; you will have one hell of a skier on your hands (pun intended).
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki
Since I'm a Level 2 in the West, do I get to look down my nose at all you flatlanders?
While I understand you're refering to the terrain you usually ski, compared to that midwest, it's still funny to hear some one who lives near sea level call anyone a flatlander. You lowlander. Oops, I blatantly trolled the troll.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
For the record, I don't intend to pick on the east. I have some experience out there, and there is definitely some serious terrain in VT, and parts of NY. This is only aimed at the midwest, which I don't believe to have terrain comparable to that available in the East and West (e.g. I would expect a L3 exam to spend some time skiing terrain like Goat at Stowe, or Hangman's at Mammoth).

Oh yeah, and just to save everyone some time: I've never skiied the midwest, so I'm an idiot making lots of assumptions about places I've never been.
post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki
Oh yeah, and just to save everyone some time: I've never skiied the midwest, so I'm an idiot making lots of assumptions about places I've never been.
Nuff said.
post #6 of 24
Do you think that demonstration of level III skiing requires such terrain?
post #7 of 24
It's a lot easier to ski steep slopes out west than our icy hills. Snow skis easier than ice, and little hills have steep pitches. Conditions makes skiing hard, pitch isn't as big a factor.
post #8 of 24
One interesting question is endurance.

I did my level III at the Boat. Our bump run was "White Out" and our off piste was "the Chutes". We had to ski "White Out" top to bottom. It isn't steep and the bumps aren't huge. It's just a lot of turns. "The Chutes" are long too.

I suppose my only comment is it is tough to ski at a high level when one's legs have turned to jelly. Ten nice turns are hard to do One hundred in a bump run begin to feel like a marathon.

I will be the first to say folks from the midwest ski just as well as their counterparts from the Rocky Mountain division in most conditions.

Powder, crud, windslab?

It's hard for them to do as well since they rarely get to practice in those conditions.

I have always said guys who work at Loveland ski well in poor conditions. I know of one level III cert who works there who is a good skier. On groomed he certainly skis up to the level of his certification. He really shines in lousy conditions, and again, I think that can be said at every cert level at Loveland.
post #9 of 24
Originally, I was a member of the Eastern division and took my Level III as a part of the group in the initial year of the new two part format ('94/'95 season). As a current member of the western tech team (examing staff), I can tell you that what I took is COMPLETELY different than what is currently done in the Level III exam out here.

That said, where terrain wasn't available to us, the difficulty of performing the maneuver was increased through tasks. We did a great deal of one-footed maneuvers including hops, short and long turns, and lane changes -- all on one ski.

This just isn't necessary in the west given the steepness of the terrain: the terrain produces enough challenge on its own.

With all of that said, I can tell you that I've skied with Level IIIs from every division who are good skiers. Good skiing is obvious regardless of the terrain available and the educational staff in each division is very adept at adapting the maneuvers required to match the terrain that is available.

Nearly four years ago, I participated in the PSIA/CISA event which replaced National Academy that year (2001) and was held at Whistler/Blackcomb. My group was run by Bob Barnes & Jill Sickles/Matlock and included an examiner from PSIA Central. He was easily old enough to be my father and I won't tell you what I thought when I first heard that he was from PSIA-C but after the first day, I had as much respect for his ability as I do for anyone else.

Terrain can HELP to make the skier but isn't required for a skier to be good. And, regardless of where you get your Level II or Level III, it's all the same.

On a side note, I would also suggest that while we have a national standard, there isn't really a single exam that is given here in the US. For example, as I said earlier, PSIA-E (at least the exam that I took and the ones that I've heard about lately) is more task focused. PSIA-W, however, tends to be a bit more off-piste focused given that that's what we -- and our guests -- tend to spend most of our time on. Regardless of what you're required to do at your exam, the standard boils down to the same thing if you look closely at the national standard translated into simple English: anything, anytime, anywhere except the most extreme combinations of steep, ice, bumps, powder, and crud. (Basically, if it's skiable with a low liklihood that you might die, it's in.)

Bearing in mind my own opinions express above, I personally think that a Level III is a Level III.
post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
One interesting question is endurance.

I did my level III at the Boat. Our bump run was "White Out" and our off piste was "the Chutes". We had to ski "White Out" top to bottom. It isn't steep and the bumps aren't huge. It's just a lot of turns. "The Chutes" are long too.

I suppose my only comment is it is tough to ski at a high level when one's legs have turned to jelly. Ten nice turns are hard to do One hundred in a bump run begin to feel like a marathon.
An interesting point (and something that I have struggled with in the past). I guess it's important to be able to ski what the customers are skiing. This is supposed to be a skiing test, not a fitness test. Hence, there's no reason to force people to show a higher level of fitness than they would need to in the course of a regular lesson. A L3 in CO probably needs to be fit enough to ski a full 1500 feet of bumps nonstop (although as a customer, I'd probably bail on a lesson that did that). On the other hand a L3 in WI only needs to ski 500 feet of bumps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilBoy
That said, where terrain wasn't available to us, the difficulty of performing the maneuver was increased through tasks. We did a great deal of one-footed maneuvers including hops, short and long turns, and lane changes -- all on one ski.

This just isn't necessary in the west given the steepness of the terrain: the terrain produces enough challenge on its own.
An interesting point. It's probably a good thing that I live in the West then. I get annoyed by "silly exercises" (yeah, I know they're good for me, and they really showcase the skills, but I'd rather go skiing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilBoy
PSIA-W, however, tends to be a bit more off-piste focused given that that's what we -- and our guests -- tend to spend most of our time on.
This also makes a lot of sense. I would imagine there isn't a lot of demand for deep powder lessons in Ohio, just like there isn't a lot of demand for ice lessons at Alta.
post #11 of 24
DevilBoy,

Very well stated.

BTW which Bob Barnes? The D-teamer/examiner or author/examiner. They are both great guys, great skiers, great educators.

I think the Winter Park BB is one of the funniest human beings that I have ever met as well as a really, really good skier.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki
I guess it's important to be able to ski what the customers are skiing. This is supposed to be a skiing test, not a fitness test. Hence, there's no reason to force people to show a higher level of fitness than they would need to in the course of a regular lesson. A L3 in CO probably needs to be fit enough to ski a full 1500 feet of bumps nonstop (although as a customer, I'd probably bail on a lesson that did that). On the other hand a L3 in WI only needs to ski 500 feet of bumps.
I think a more interesting point is maintenance. I set as a goal last season to be able to ski a particular bump run top to bottom.

I never did it without three stops.

I run, I cycle, I lift weights five days a week.

I don't think it's a fitness issue. I think it's lousy technique.
post #13 of 24
A skier who can win a race in the midwest can win anywhere. If those miserable hills don't hamper the racers, I doubt the instructors are inferior either.

They just don't get to have as much fun.
post #14 of 24
Maybe we should ask Koz, Lindsey Kildow, Jeremy Nobis or Brant Moles about this.

We have the pitch, it's just short. That means, as I've often said, "we get to do it over until we get it RIGHT"
post #15 of 24
My father commented regarding my skiing, exactly as you just did Slatz. I will often ski one of my most favorite trails at my small home mountain over and over again. When asked what trail I want to ski down I always reply with the same answer. It is a wide moderately steep black groomer with three sections. A steep head wall, sustained middle section with a flat runout and a very short lower head wall. It is a great trail to learn most skills on. A lot of times I work on skiing technique with my father and younger brother - and they comment that I make them do a trail until they get it right. So far we are several seasons in. The story is not terribly related to the topic but the idea behind it is.
Later
GREG
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
DevilBoy,

Very well stated.

BTW which Bob Barnes? The D-teamer/examiner or author/examiner. They are both great guys, great skiers, great educators.

I think the Winter Park BB is one of the funniest human beings that I have ever met as well as a really, really good skier.
Ha! I thought they were the same person. Go figure.

I skied with "Barney" (the former D-teamer/examiner) at hte CISA event and if my memory serves me, he's the Winter Park BB. And, I also think that he's hilarious.

On a side note, at that event, he lent his skis to a participant who proceeded to nearly immediately crash and bend one of the skis. I think the only thing that kept Barney from killing him was that he racked himself up pretty good in the process.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLATZ
Maybe we should ask Koz, Lindsey Kildow, Jeremy Nobis or Brant Moles about this.

We have the pitch, it's just short. That means, as I've often said, "we get to do it over until we get it RIGHT"

Slatz, that's a great point. When I used to work at Okemo, we used to say that Triplesec would be a great trail if it extended all the way to the parking lot instead of just 300 feet!

I grew up skiing Mount Southington (about 600 feet of pure ice). It gave me the opportunity to be on snow seven days a week from the time that I was 12 years old until I was 18 for most of the winter. Regardless of how unsteep it was, it was skiing and it was helping me to improve. I bet if you asked most of the hardcore skiers in those places if they would prefer to ski on a big mountain, they'd say yes. I'd also bet that if you asked those same people if they'd prefer to ski only on a big mountain every other year or so when they could afford a trip there, that they would say no. Skiing is skiing and is very addictive.

I always find the big mountain/small mountain, east/west/midwest thing funny. I particularly enjoy the Northern Cali/Southern Cali thing that goes on. Always provides amusement when people forget that no matter if it's 50+ degree or 5 degree slope, inside on plastic carpet or outside in waist deep powder or on ice, it's still the same: Every Other Turn To The Right and Keep Your Hips Together.

DB

BTW - From my understanding, one of the main reasons why the Level III events (and in the last year Level II events) are so closely controlled here in the west is to ensure a more uniform and consistent experience for the candidates. It also takes the variation regarding conditions and mountain out of the mix and makes it much easier to administer the exam.
post #18 of 24
There are mountains in the midwest: ?!
post #19 of 24
There used to be. The Baraboo Range along the Wisconsin River, home to Devil's Head (where Nobis learned) and Cascade Mountain, was once higher than the Rockies.
Brockway Mountain (Copper Harbor MI) rises over 1000 feet above the surface of Lake Superior. Nearby is Mt Bohemia with 900 vertical feet of "lift served backcountry" and almost 300" annual snowfall. The North Shore of Lake Superior is a moutain-like formation (I've forgotten the name, it's on a sign along the road) with a number of solid rock monoliths like Moose Mt at Lutsen.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
There are mountains in the midwest: ?!
Kinda like the ones in Ontario, Ghost!
post #21 of 24
While being from Midwest I have been able, through examiner exchange programs, to either Examine, or shadow a number of L-III exams in RM, NW and IM in addition to my Central experiencs. I'd offer an observation that while the regional groups of L-III candidates may show familiar conditions based biases of strength or weakness, over all they differed less than one might suspect.

I would grant the western skiers may be stronger in crud than midwesterners who have little access to it, but the westerners also appeared to have less of the precision and accuracy skiing on harder snow conditions that is the mid-westerners stock and trade.

I'd also offer that over the last decade I have seen shape skis contribute to shinking the bias gap considerably.

The best part of this is that these regional biases naturally can lend strength to teaching what their students need to learn.

However, I suspect midwestern instructors teach more lessons preparing their students to adapt when they go west to ski soft conditions than western instructors spend teaching theirs to prepare for our hardpack.
post #22 of 24
Arc
Thought maybe you drowned water skiing
post #23 of 24
Been busy skiing in the melted runoff from last winter's slopes!
post #24 of 24
I'd heard. One of the Tyrol instructors said she'd seen you at a competition.
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