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A Parable

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Recent posts by Weems and the long thread on PMTS promted this Parable:
Several years ago in a parallel universe called Zerta, a man named Manfred decided to take up sliding (what we call skiing). On Zerta the winters were long, the snow plentiful, and the sliding areas many. Manfred had slided as a child-but not since.
After his first day of sliding, Manfred fell in love with the sport and decided to learn more about his new passion.He did a "Gaggle search (they don't have Google on Zerta) to see what books on sliding had been published in the past ten years. Several came back from his search. Being a complete novice, he ordred a book titled: Sliding On The New Slides by Latta The Lighthearted. It turned out that Latta was an ancient slide instructor with much useful information.
However, unable to restrain his desire to become a proficient slider, Manfred returned to his search list and found that Horst the Horrible(HH) had written two books on sliding: Anyone Can Be An Expert Slider-Part One, and Anyone Can Become An Expert Slider-Part Two. To Manfred's delight , there were also two videos that accompanied the books. Manfred, of course, ordered both books and both videos.
Manfred liked Horst's sliding system (called PSTS-Primary Sliding Teaching System). It had lots of definitions, diagrams, photo montages, and practice drills. He quickly became a better slider from reading the books and watching the videos. Manfred even discovered that Horst had an Instructor's Manual which was available to anyone-instructor, or not.
One day Manfred was riding up the chairlift with a local sliding instructor. He mentioned how much he had learned from Horst The Horrible's materials. The instuctor was appalled. He said that Hort's methods were dubious at best, and that Horst was a pain in the elbow (they don't have arses on Zerta).
Taken aback-Manfred asked what sliding system the local instucor taught. He said that he was a member of PSIZ (Professional Slide Instructors Of Zerta). He went on to explain that, unlike Horst's PSTS, PSIZ was the system taught at the vast majority of sliding areas on Zerta.
Being open-minded, Manfred sked the instuctor where he could get a book or video on PSIZ. The instructor replied that there were none. Now totally confused, Manfried asked the instructor how one learned about PSIZ. "Have to take a lesson", replied the instructor. "I get it!" said Manfred--"then AFTER the lesson you get to read the book and watch the video" "Afraid not" replied the instructor, "you have to come back and take more lessons"
"Hmmmmm" thought Manfred.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
Before anyone is too ctirical of Harald, Lito, or anyone else who has the courage to put in writing what they believe about skiing--maybe it is way past time for the critics, and the world's largest ski instructor organization to do the same. And to make those materials available to the "unwashed" so that we can make intelligent decisions about ski instruction. Surely, there are enough great skiers in the PSIA to accomplish that.
post #2 of 31

Sure enough?

Anyone can buy the Alpine Technical Video at the PSIA web site. The Alpine Technical Manual and Tactics for All Mountain Skiing are there too.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
Thanks Rusty-I learned something today. Why don't most instructors know about this?
post #4 of 31
Thanks for the parable, patprof66. Entertaining!

As Rusty says, there are a few materials available from and through PSIA, but there are many more books and videos produced independently by individual members of the organization. PSIA is an organization for and of individual professional ski instructors. It does not, contrary to popular opinion, have an ax to grind or a proprietary technique to thrust upon the public. In fact, rejecting the once-common notion of National Techniques, Final Forms, and technique-centered methodology, and replacing it with a humanistic, universal skills-based approach, was an early principle of the organization that distinguishes PSIA still today from many other international instructor associations.

On the other hand, I do agree that it might be good if PSIA would take a stronger stand with a more clearly identifiable "brand," supported by materials meant for the public, rather than just for instructors. A shift in the landscape may be starting, as PSIA, in conjunction with SkiPressWorld and Egan Entertainment, has just produced a promotional DVD that features some pretty good skiing and snowboarding by some of PSIA's top pros. Unfortunately, it is primarily promotional, not instructional. But perhaps that will come. Here's a link.

On the other hand, few good books have ever been written by committees or organizations. They come from individuals, and PSIA is full of those!

A final note--you may also satisfy your curiosity by searching the PSIA divisional web sites. Ours (Rocky Mountain Division, primarily Colorado and New Mexico) is www.psia-rm.org. Among other things, you will find the documents that describe current skiing maneuvers used on Certification Exams. I wrote the manual for Rocky Mountain myself, and you can find it here (click on "PSIA-RM Alpine Skiing Maneuvers 2006-07"). It's a long Adobe .pdf document aimed at instructors, but if you're interested, there's a lot of information there. And it's free! Elsewhere on the site, you can also purchase copies of various videos, including the "PSIA-RM Alpine Skiing Standards" DVD (due for an update soon), the new "PSIA-RM Adaptive Functional Skiing Maneuvers" DVD, and "Fresh In-Tele-Gence"--a great new DVD about Nordic/Telemark skiing.

So there's some stuff out there. And surely more to come!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 31

Skiing and the Art of Carving

I have the book and video "Skiing and the Art of Carving" which I believe is somehow representative of the PSIA approach. I recall that at least the video has PSIA in the titles. The book is full of exercises / drills and the video is quite entertaining. I would recommend to buy / read this book if you are interested in PSIA methodology. Of course I am not a ski instructor and am coming from the PMTS side (if you can't recognize my handle from the PMTS forum) but I do enjoy reading ski books. You can find the book here. The book introduces quite an interesting approach of learing carving skills through wedge turn practice.
post #6 of 31
patprof66,

Nice parable. In the days of glitter and "reality" drama shows, we shouldn't judge the quality of the bird by the brilliance of it's feathers. PSIA has always been and is an educational and certification origanization for it's members. This organization sets standards for it's members that are recognized by the ski industry and very few skiers who make up the skiing public know much about it.
The PSIA is working on doing more to market their product (certified instructors), but it is not the goal of the orginization to sell how to ski books, dvd's and lessons by a few selected members. It's decisions are made by board of directors rather than by any one indivedual who has his own agenda.

RW
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
Bob-Nice going! Of course you feed my "neurosis" and I'll be up half the night downloading and reading all this stuff
Hobbit-Have the book and video Skiing & The Art Of Carving (I told you "Manfred" was an addict). Great stuff-and an example of what I'd like to see more of.
Ron "The PSIA is working more to market their product" YEAh!!!
"....but it is not the goal of the organization to sell how to ski books...."
But why not Ron? Wouldn't this be a win-win for everyone? The perception this attitude leaves in some quarters (which clearly I hope is not true)is that PSIA doesn't do "how to" material because it lacks the systematic clarity to do so.
post #8 of 31
Good pick, Hobbit. Written by Ellen Post Foster, that book features Jay Evans (it's him on the cover) whose skiing was then and still is extraordinary. (He currently teaches at Vail, if anyone's interested, and he's probably very hard to get an appointment with.)

It is worth noting that it has been around a while--10 years, actually. It was one of the earliest books written about learning to carve on the new skis, and it is surely showing its age.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 31
Quote:
But why not Ron?
Interesting question! I can see how it might not work. Like any group of strong-willed and accomplished professionals, PSIA's parts may actually be greater than its whole. There is no PSIA bible, no single leader, charismatic or otherwise. Trend setters come and go within its ranks. The organization just isn't set up to follow a single source of information. Nor, I think, should it be--any more than the American Medical Association or other such organizations. The members of the AMA publish many valuable resources, in their individual names. Could it work any other way?

But that is not to say that PSIA couldn't still produce some good stuff, as an organization. But it would be controversial!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 31
Patprof66,

Quote:
The perception this attitude leaves in some quarters (which clearly I hope is not true)is that PSIA doesn't do "how to" material because it lacks the systematic clarity to do so.
Some of the members of PSIA have written "how to" books that are wonderfull, but don't have the logo on them. The goal of the origanization hasn't been one of publishing material suted for the consumer, but for education of it's members. I don't agrue that a "how to" book is not a bad idea, but I feel that guidence and learning on the snow is more valuable than studying a text and trial and error on the snow (WW can read and ski at the same time, I can't).

A "how to" book (and dvd) can give insite to the technique, skills, and movements in skiing, but will never replace real time instruction by a qualified instructor. Reading a book on technical ice climbing doesn't make a person capable of climbing a frozen waterfall without instruction, not to mention climbing Everist. It can give insite to equipment, techniques, and tactics of climbing, but has little other value as far as the reader being able to actually climb.

Everyone in this forum has encountered situations while skiing where their technique has failed them and no amount of reading would replace a few well spoken words, a good visual, or encouragement by someone who can help them through the situation. My point is , no written material will ever replace a talented instructor to help you learn to ski.

RW
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by patprof66;628317"
...but it is not the goal of the organization to sell how to ski books? But why not Ron? Wouldn't this be a win-win for everyone? The perception this attitude leaves in some quarters (which clearly I hope is not true)is that PSIA doesn't do "how to" material because it lacks the systematic clarity to do so.
Patfrof66 your parable is clearly understood and please try to understand, I am writing this out of total frustration. Your parable clearly establishes the damage that negative marketing can do by one man totally comparing his methods with a professional organization of people. That's tatamount to comparing apples and softballs and then saying why can't a softball be an apple too. No matter how much I can convince you a softball should be an apple, one bite will confirm that is all a ruse. One is an individual writing books the other is an orgainization devoted to its members. There is no comparison that isn't some sort of fabrication.

To ask PSIA to write "how to books" for the general public is to completely missunderstand the whole concept of what PSIA stands for and how they work. That leap to compare can only come about by faulty perceptions.

PSIA is and orgainzation that promotes conceptually based teaching tools to its members. PSIA also certifies a body of ski instructors in the USA to gain some credibility for its membership. Because PSIA is "conceptually based tools" the orgainization DOES NOT PROMOTE ONE METHOD OF SKI INSTRUCTION, contrary to what many people seem to think.

I will say it if nobody else will, PSIA DOES NOT promote any particular "exercise", progression of exercises to learn how to ski" or "way to ski". Saying that PSIA does is a complete and total missunderstanding of PSIA and it's concepts. PSIA "WILL NEVER PRODUCE A BOOK OF HOW TO SKI THE PSIA WAY". Doing so would completely violate the very fabric of what PSIA is.

Because PSIA WILL NEVER produce a "How to Book of Skiing" PSIA is an easy target to attack for marketing purposes. PSIA CANNOT AND WILL NOT address this issue of "How to Books" so PSIA always looks like a loser to people buying "how to books" that use PSIA as a bench mark because PSIA cannot address the issue.

PSIA is not and never has been what HH says that it is and if it every becomes what HH says that PSIA should be, I AM OUTA THERE.

That all being said it does behove me as to why PSIA does not promote more member books on its website.
post #12 of 31
Really good stuff Pierre! And...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
That all being said it does behove me as to why PSIA does not promote more member books on its website.
...yeah! Me too!
post #13 of 31
One other aspect about PSIA that many overlook is that it is a national umbrella organization that provides guidance, but does not rule, nine regional divisions. The divisions basically operate independently of the national organization in that they set up their own educational programs for members and conduct their own certification examinations for members. Their only national requirement in these functions is that the end result meets national standards. The national organization mainly serves as a resource the divisions can draw upon.

As everyone else has noted, PSIA is organized to serve its members, not the general public.

Does the PGA put out a "how to" book on golfing?
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
Does the PGA put out a "how to" book on golfing?
How about the PGA Manual of Golf?
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
How about the PGA Manual of Golf?
Here's a link to to the manual. Looks like the PGA owns the copyright. Couldn't the PSIA do the same thing?
post #16 of 31
They could, Max. But the question is, who would write it? Or perhaps more important, who would not write it? Of all the PSIA-affiliated instructors who put out books and videos and write articles and such, it would be difficult and unfortunate to have to alienate any of them, and more difficult still to select one technical perspective of any one author and to expect the rest of the instructors to fall in line and adhere to it as "the official PSIA technique."

PSIA simply isn't set up that way, as Pierre explained so well above. PSIA, as an organization, rejects technical dogma, in favor of understanding the basic skills that underlie any and all techniques. It provides learning tools and teaching guidelines and a flexible methodology, along with technical models that incorporate all possible technique and movement options. More recent models ("Center Line™" and "Stepping Stones™") have attempted to refine the Skills Concept™ with a sort of road map to help sort out the myriad technical options, skill blends, and learning paths for specific relevance to individual student needs.

PSIA provides a great foundation for teaching any specific technique that is appropriate for a given student in a given situation. Or to write about it. It is a fine launching pad for any instructor or ski school that wants to create a unique "brand." Want to write a book about good techniques for skiing bumps, racing, carving, steeps, or powder skiing? The PSIA models support that, while neither dictating nor limiting an instructor's or author's options.

So it is perfect for encouraging and supporting individual authors as they write about targeted and specialized techniques or progressions for specific needs. But it is not at all suited for someone writing about "the official PSIA technique." There simply isn't one.

To me, it is genius. But it does present a problem for someone wanting "that PSIA technique." We must not forget what PSIA is, and what it isn't. It is an instructor association, an educational organization, meant to help instructors develop broad-based knowledge, understanding, and teaching and skiing ability, enabling top instructors to teach creatively, accurately, and effectively to any student, across the spectrum of individual needs and motivations. It is about the process of ski instruction, not about mandating any particular outcome. And it clearly is not intended to be a public resource for ski technique.

I have in front of me an interesting book that might seem to contradict what I have just said: The Way to Ski! The Official PSIA Method, by Stu Campbell and Max Lundberg, from 1986. It was written for the public--one of the last "official" PSIA publications of its type--and its title might seem to suggest that there is an "official technique." But the Introduction, on page 10, describes it well:

Quote:
The American Teaching Method describes the open-end system of instruction sponsored by the Professional Ski Instructors of America. PSIA, as we are called, is an amalgamation of ski instructors from around the world as well as the United States.

Although the term ATM implies a national ski technique, ours is not a strictly-defined system like that of Switzerland or Austria. ATM preaches that we must accept a good idea from any source--the only catch being that the idea must work. In that sense, the teaching philosophy adopted by most U.S. ski teachers is one that demands extreme flexibility and creativity on the part of the instructor. We believe in saying: "See where the student needs help, then give it. If that means deviating from the traditional teaching sequence, do it!"
So PSIA doesn't espouse a particular technique. In lessons, and perhaps in books, individual PSIA instructors do--although that technique will vary as necessary according to student needs--and instructor ability, of course.

I agree with Pierre that this is a primary distinction between PSIA and "brands" like Dan Dipiro's bump workshops (and book), Keystone's "Keys to Great Skiing," The Mahre Training Center, Weems' "Diamond Sessions," Lito's "Breakthough on Skis," and Harb's PMTS. All these programs can fit comfortably under the PSIA umbrella, without conflict, even as each may incorporate a distinct technical focus. This is why we can say that yes, PMTS is very different from PSIA, but not incompatible. They are, as Pierre suggests, apples and softballs. And the parts may be greater than the whole.

Best regards,
Bob
post #17 of 31
The politically correct "big umbrella" approach also makes the most business sense. Whether this set up best serves the publics interests is surely open to debate.
post #18 of 31
Ashski, I think your assumption about the standards of instruction is wrong, based on my personal experience of instructures in various countries, I would have to say that the standards are comparable, or better than Austria, Switzerland, France, UK and Canada.

What personal experiences do you have that make you say otherwise?
post #19 of 31
I've had poor instruction in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, probably 75% of the private lessons were lousy. Multiple lessons in each country by well qualified instructors provided poor value for money.

I just question whether a significant reason for the big umbrella approach has as much to do with maintaining membership dues as anything else.
post #20 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashski View Post
I've had poor instruction in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, probably 75% of the private lessons were lousy.
So, it's not just US instructors you find lousy, but 75% of all the instructors in the world.

Can you tell me what you find wrong with them (now that we've established that it's not specific to the PSIA)?
post #21 of 31
In one word consistency.

In another thread started by Pierre titled "Centreline" he describes many students needing a black and white teaching method. I think most students would benefit from a consistent message in comparison to what they recieve. PSIA are about delivering a broad multi interpreted message. A bit like this paragraph from that other thread where Weems sums up the PSIA umbrella.
Quote:
I understand what you're saying, Pierre. And recognize the need for that for many people. My concern is my sense that Reality doesn't work exclusively in a linear sequence. I think there can be repeatable sequences within variable conditions, but once you rely exclusively on either as a description, I think you create weird limits. This is why I advocate so strongly for the idea of "holding polarity: maintaining the tension between opposing, yet interdependent imperatives". Sequence/concept, process/results, change/stability, carving/skidding.
I trust his instructional book is clearer than this.
post #22 of 31
Ashski, consistency is only worthwhile if it is consistently right, and can be applied to everyone.

Unfortunately human beings are rarely consistently right, and we are all different, and have different learning styles, so for me a good instructor is like a ski boot - some people are happy with something that works fairly well for a lot of people, but I prefer to have a boot/instruction that can be tailored to my needs at that time.

Does that make sense?
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashski View Post
In one word consistency.

In another thread started by Pierre titled "Centreline" he describes many students needing a black and white teaching method. I think most students would benefit from a consistent message in comparison to what they recieve. PSIA are about delivering a broad multi interpreted message. A bit like this paragraph from that other thread where Weems sums up the PSIA umbrella.


I trust his instructional book is clearer than this.
Download it at no charge, and decide yourself. However, be prepared to neither find a sequential progression, nor consistency. Neither are my point.
post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashski View Post
I've had poor instruction in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, probably 75% of the private lessons were lousy. Multiple lessons in each country by well qualified instructors provided poor value for money.

I just question whether a significant reason for the big umbrella approach has as much to do with maintaining membership dues as anything else.
Interesting. I've never had bad coaching anywhere. Even from bad coaches. I don't allow it to be bad, because I choose to get something out of everything.

I could care less about consistency. Consistency doesn't matter because it doesn't exist and there is no silver bullet. (Didn't the Iraq Study Group just say that?) I've heard top racers and coaches say the total opposite of each other, and also I've heard them say things that they're obviously not doing.

I look for unifying elements and offer complete (but temporary) trust, and then take what feels like it might work. Why should I let my brilliant day be spoiled by someone else's consistent dogma? Rather, I'm going to take responsibility for getting whatever is there. And the first step to that is assuming that the coach knows at least something. At a PSIA Ed Staff training many years ago, Harb was given an opportunity to lead the group. I glued myself to him, listened carefully, got everything I could out of it (including some interesting gems about his perception of the future of skiing) and improved my own skiing. I've done pretty much the same with every opportunity.

When coaches ask me what style of learning/teaching I like. I say that it doesn't matter. "Give it your best shot." The idea is to step into the "learning zone", rather than the "prove it to me" or "satisfy me" zone.

I think the one exception is that I once hired a very nice female pro to help my son and I get through liftlines over Christmas. She asked, "What would you like me to help you with." I smiled, and said, "Only one thing. Keep up."
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
Interesting. I've never had bad coaching anywhere. Even from bad coaches. I don't allow it to be bad, because I choose to get something out of everything.

I could care less about consistency. Consistency doesn't matter because it doesn't exist and there is no silver bullet. (Didn't the Iraq Study Group just say that?) I've heard top racers and coaches say the total opposite of each other, and also I've heard them say things that they're obviously not doing.
But surely you do recognize, Weems, that some students actually *do* seek consistency.

People "learn" in hugely different ways. I, like you, love to look at all kinds of ways to turn skis to see what strikes me as effective (or fun).

Some people, however, have a great deal of difficulty when faced with widely differing advice on how to turn a pair of skis. I've certainly seen this and I've only taught skiing for an eyeblink compared to you and many others. Some people are just wired to want (or need) predictable, progressive steps from starting point A to the goal at point B.

I think this is part of the frustration that some people feel with PSIA when they get the impression that there isn't much predictability in lessons from one PSIA school (or teacher) to another. These folks respond to a situation like PMTS in which everyone is, more or less, on the same page.

It's just one more reason why there's plenty of room in the ski-teaching world for many approaches.
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
How about the PGA Manual of Golf?
......de-cloaking.....

The most successful golf books have been written by the game's greatest players (Hogan, Nicklaus, Woods) or by their personal coaches (Harmon, Leadbetter, etc.) Many of these books have contrary or conflicting philosophies while their authors are all members of the same organization--the PGA of America.
Seems to me one of you psia guys should co-author a "My Way" book with one of skiing's greats.
I like Harald's book. I think it is sad and ironic that if he had chosen to include and embrace psia, while still promoting his methods, he might have sold a book to every skier on the planet.

....back under the covers....

-SV
post #27 of 31
SV, I think you make a very valid point there - please don't run away too quickly!
post #28 of 31
[quote=Bob Peters;628672]But surely you do recognize, Weems, that some students actually *do* seek consistency.

quote]

Absolutely, I do. And I don't have an issue trying to provide that--especially in the case where I get a student who has received conflicting advice. Together, we try to work through that and find where there is actual conflict due to difference of opinion, or whether the two ideas are not, in fact, in conflict, or whether they are in conflict for situational reasons.

My goal, rather than consistency alone, is to balance and hold tension between flexibility and clarity. Clarity without flexibility becomes rigid and oppressive and narrow. Flexibility without clarity becomes chaos and paralysis.

This, by the way, is why Dick Needham (a very fine ski writer), and presumably Harb, hate my book. They both lean toward stronger clarity, and this is really attractive to people like Ashski. The book leans more toward flexibility.

I, myself, gain much leverage when I focus a bit more on clarity because my natural state is flexibility and chaos. My skiing weaknesses have to do with the need for more clarity. My skiing strengths have to do with the total acceptance of the chaos of mountains, snow, weather, and technical evolution. My teaching weaknesses are similar and if I don't stay aware of that, I lose traction with my students.

Those who gravitate towards consistency are fine, and they would serve that need better were they to not get ruffled in the face of flexibility.


Am I clear? (I hope not. )
post #29 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
Those who gravitate towards consistency are fine, and they would serve that need better were they to not get ruffled in the face of flexibility.
Bob/Weems,

But this is also the beauty of a free market ski teaching industry, with a common consistent foundation. Students are free to search out teachers that fit their own learning style. Now as teachers, it is our job to do our best to adapt our teaching style to their learning style. I know when I'm teaching groups I try to teach to multiple learning styles and multiple intelligences simultaneously. For a variety or reasons, this doesn't always happen. As hard as I try, I haven't always had a solid connection with all of my students. That doesn't me I was wrong or they were wrong, our styles just didn't mesh. So I'm sure they went else where and hopefully found somebody that was a better fit for them. This is why many of our peers have long term return clients. Both the student and the teach have found something that works.

When it's bad is when students have a hard time finding that connection and regard all instruction as "bad" or you find teachers that refuse to change their teaching style to meet their students needs.

L
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
This, by the way, is why Dick Needham (a very fine ski writer), and presumably Harb, hate my book. They both lean toward stronger clarity, and this is really attractive to people like Ashski. The book leans more toward flexibility.

Ah, you must be beginner writers - the secret is not to lean towards something, but to put pressure on it. Expert writers will be perfectly balanced between flexibility and inflexibility, but will be adjusting the amount of pressure on each to control their turn of words.
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