On the issue of "PSIA skiing style", I gotta say, I don't know what that style is. I am going to guess that you all are referring to the demos and the skiing maneuvers that candidates for certification have to learn. And I guess those demos and maneuvers become, the "picture" of PSIA skiing.
Well that's just not the case. We advocate creative, versatile, expressive skiing using contemporary fundamentals that are appropriate and fun for the person, the gear, and the terrain. This includes style if it suits you.
However, the maneuvers and demos are like templates. They are maneuvers that people tend to do at various levels in their progression, and we want the instructors to learn how to do them effectively. The rigidity around them is for grading on a standard to make a test fair. It is also to test whether an instructor is versatile enough to learn a certain maneuver in a certain way, even if he or she doesn't like it. Whether that's your style or preference is not the point of the exam. The point is your dexterity and your movement discipline. We believe that part of the package is being able to know your own skiing well enough so that you can perform different maneuvers in different ways, on call. In the old days, these were called final forms, and they were certainly representative of techniques that PSIA insisted on. These days, they are characterizations of efficient, effective skiing in very specific situations.
For example, when I teach at the wedge christy level, I perform that turn in many different ways, according to the needs of the lesson. However, I appreciate and approve of the challenge to make it in an exact way under the eyes of a judge. Furthermore, I discover that when I do that, it transfers very effectively to my own style and all the other versions of the turn I do in my class.
I think that people who suffer from this come to these exams with a very strong sense of defensiveness about their own skiing, and often defend it in stylistic terms. Well that's fine, but remember when you go to an exam, you hire an examiner to test you on the maneuvers that the organization has developed as generalizations of the skiing at each of these levels. If the examiners say that this or that does not achieve the standard, then that's what you've hired him or her to do.
Now before anyone gets all in a twist about this....I know it's not perfect, and in some cases it appears baffling what the examiners are seeing or saying. I wish all of us had the skills we should have. I don't think we've ever been as good at this as we'd like to be. I look back on some of my exams and wished I had been a better examiner with a sharper eye and a clearer articulation, but I and others do the best we can. On the other hand, many candidates ski very differently when they're trying to perform a maneuver using fundamental patterns or sequences they don't particularly like under the eyes of a judge. I'm one of those. I ski like crap when I'm being scored.
I do reject the notion that it is political--at least in RM, the only place I've ever examined. I also did not feel it was political when I got my full cert in the East. I guess I'm not sure what the politics would be. Who gains what over whom? My only real generalization about most examiners I have met and worked with is that they would just as soon pass everyone, if everyone came to the standard. There is no benefit accrued to any examiner to pass someone who should fail, or fail someone who should pass. This is not to say that there isn't a bias or favoritism from time to time. However, I think it is more subtle and unconscious than conspiratorial.
Am I naive? Or what?
Anyway, Mattchuck2, I don't think that style is out in skiing. It's just not gradable--except maybe in a race course. I have no problem giving up my style temporarily in favor of developing my discipline. Also, what may look good to you, may not look good to me or to Johnski. Where do you draw the line? For example I think it's much more difficult to ski a round line in bumps than it is a zipper line, yet that zipper line is fun and it looks good. But that's not what we're testing.
But style? Yeah, go for it. Have fun with it. Ski switch. Feet together, feet apart. I don't care. Whatever's fun for you, you should do.