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A little history of the ski instructors certification in the US.

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I wrote this in the VS! blog where thing about certification were bandied about that were not quite right. I posted it to shed some light on the certification process over the years and was asked to post it here as there may be some interest.

I would appreciate if any old timers would chime in with their experiences, it should be interesting.

...Ott
=======================================

About the history of certification in America, I may be able to shed some light on that.

Prior to 1965 or so the certification in the US was the USSA=United States Ski Association and there were two stages to it, the round pin was called an Associate Ski Instructor, (NOT an Associate CERTIFIED ski instructor) and was for the not-ready-for-prime-time instructors, and the rectangular pin was called the Certified Ski Instructors pin.

Around that time Willy Schaeffler and his cohorts in the Rocky Mountains wanted to separate the professional ski instructors from USSA, which at that time was strictly governing amateur racers at sanctioned races, and the Olympics. They created a club known as the Professional Ski Instructors of America, PSIA. (Full) Certified Instructors could join PSIA by paying $5.00 and get a pin with their name engraved, it didn’t mean anything at the time since USSA was still the certifying agency.

Thus came about the big fight at Iron Mountain Michigan when instructors and representatives from all over put their voice to it, half wanted to go with PSIA and half wanted to stay with USSA. After a long night of bickering, USSA conceded the certifying to PSIA. It was early in the season and PSIA wanted dues money for the ranks that joined it from USSA, but it did not want to give any to them and it ended in court with PSIA winning.

PSIA kept the divisions that were set up by USSA but it took a few years before any training manuals came from headquarters and often they arrived at the ski schools in March-April, useless because by December things had changed.

During that time PSIA issued numbers to the instructors who decided to join them, mine is 325, there are many thousands now. There was rivalry among the divisions, the Eastern considered themselves the toughest and considered the Central, especially Ohio the weakest, not considering that at that time ski instructors in Ohio were almost exclusive European, Austrian, German, Hungarian, etc. who skied in the Alps since childhood.

Though knowing how to ski the ‘Final Forms’ was mandatory, learning how to teach was of most importance. Because of the lag in manuals from PSIA, many divisions, Central included, printed their own and even issued their own certification pins.

In PSIA it used to be called ‘Registered Apprentice’, ‘Associate Certified’, and ‘Full Certified’ instructor. When they were reclassified in to 1,2 and 3 escapes me right now.

I am putting a link to three pictures showing various pins, etc.



The upper left PSIA pin was the original pewter pin ($5.00) . the round one is the USSA Associate pin, the triangular one is the CSIA (Central Ski Instructors Association) and the lower right is Ann’s Associate PSIA with the red background and the © for central.



The PSIA pin with the blue background in the © is my Full Certified pin, the rectangular is my Certification pin from USSA and the ISIA (International Ski Instructor Association) could be had for the asking after making Full but was not valid to get a job overseas unless the actual ISIA test is completed which among other things requires teaching in two languages.



This is an old PSIA-ISIA pass with the ISIA stamp and PSIA card.

I hope I shed some light as to the history of certification in America, but as someone said, if you don’t keep current with the ever-changing techniques made possible by equipment advances and teaching methodologies, certification is meaningless.

…Ott
post #2 of 23
Very interesting Ott, Thanks! I learned something I didn't know. I joined in 79 when it was still associate and full certified.

Wish you would post more often! I appreciate your perspectives!
post #3 of 23
When I joined PSIA-C in 1969 ($10 division dues, no national until certified), the division office was upstairs in an old building in downtown Traverse City, MI, run by Tom Joynt, who had a sports equipment store a couple blocks up the street.

I joined so I could participate in an exam precourse, primarily for the multiple days of ski instruction I could get out of it. I enjoyed the program so much I decided to become a part of it.

Anyway, at that time, I was told PSIA formed--and drew in members from the USSA instructor ranks--mainly because USSA was so dictatorial about having the same standards across the country regardless of available terrain or potential clientele. USSA even wanted to set the same lesson fees for everywhere, whether it was a two-hill resort in the Flatlands or a Rockies vacation mecca.

That first event I attended, everyone was divided up into groups with no distinction for the first couple of days, and then those with the required ski school director acknowledgement of meeting the minimum hours of teaching experience were allowed into the exam. You could pass directly to Certified if you had the skills and knowledge or Associate Certified if you needed additional training. Or, of course, not pass anything.

By the time I succeeded in an exam--in 1973 after four tries--there was no direct pass to Certified unless you had an ISIA pin. My membership number--1239--was set up when I made Associate. And started paying national dues that then were $35. I passed the Certified exam the next season.
post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks Kneale for bringing back memories of the precourse-exams at Boyne. Bill Sheppler ran it for years (they ran/run the ferry to Mackinac Island).

After the first day, when the candidates who really thought they could ski were taken apart to the point of being convinced that they were beginners, the evening arguing in the Snowflake lounge continued long into the night in the hallways and into the morning breakfast until roly-poly waitress Fannie told them to shut up and eat.

You got taken apart and put back together the right way the next day.

Central division had an inferiority complex, always being compared to the Eastern and Rocky Mountain divisions with no consideration of lack of comparable terrain which caused the division to make the exams artificially tough, often out of a hundred candidates on three full certified and ten associates would emerge.

This really discouraged a lot of instructors to try again, especially after failing for three or four years. Reminded me of an Austrian exam, on a steeper blue run the judges were spaced out, a parallel turn judge, a traverse judge and a side slip judge. They judged by holing up fingers,3x4 for best possible, 2x3+4 for passing, everything else failed.

Now for the tasks, one run without stopping:

Four parallel turns without a traverse in between.(basic parallel turn)

Four traverses without a turn in between.(hop from one traverse into the other, no slipping, Z-turns)

Four direction changes without a turn or a traverse.(vertical sideslips of three meters, basically pivot slips)

This was the very first test maneuver for all candidates. Afterward the judges addressed the failing candidates telling them that they should be taking lessons, not giving them. Man, that hurts.

....Ott
post #5 of 23
I love reading stuff like that. Brilliant.

Was told a good story by an Austrian ski instructor: at one Austrian exam, the candidates were told to ski a bumps field - no other instructions. One of the candidates was a former racer, and he skied it in GS turns very, very fast. I'm told it was amazing to watch.

When the scores were posted at lunch the examiners had all given him "0" for not doing it properly.

He apparently walked to the bar, bought a round of beers and schnapps for all the examiners, and told them they could have them if one of them could ski the run the way he had ...

They changed his score.
post #6 of 23

PNSIA

Pacific Northwest Ski Instructors Association preceded PSIA-NW and established their own certification exams prior to merging with the national organization PSIA.
post #7 of 23
Thanks, Ott. As a relative newcomer compared to you--my number is 1144--I really enjoyed your perspective. It is also mainly accurate, I think as I read much of the same in Ski Heritage Mag and also in some papers from Otto Lang.

The only thing, I'm not sure is correct is the timing of associate and full cert. Although it might have been different for different divisions, I was certified as a CPSI in the USEASA--eastern cert--in 1969. In those days there was only one level in eastern--the full. When I returned to my home in Colorado the next year, I believe that they had, as you suggested already moved to associate and full.

Poignantly, during the week we spent in the hospital in Denver during the birth of my triplet sons, Willy Schaeffler was several floors up in the same hospital, dying. I visited him every day, as I had first met him when I was six at Arapahoe Basin. What a tough old guy, and what a wonderful human being as well. Even at that moment, he still was thrilled with skiing. I was thrilled to know him.
post #8 of 23
First time in this forum and it's fascinating stuff. I love this sport.
post #9 of 23

Otto Lang

Albert Arnaud gave me his copy of Otto Lang's A Bird of Passage. Otto was instrumental in the development of skiing in the Pacific Northwest founding ski schools at Mt Baker, Mt Rainer and at Timberline on Mt Hood. Albert was Bill Johnsons and Deb Armstrongs coach in 1984 and he wanted me to have Otto's book because I began my teaching at Timberline and grew up very near where Bill grew up.
post #10 of 23
sheesh, I'm 150649. Guess I should appreciate all that's gone before me.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
sheesh, I'm 150649. Guess I should appreciate all that's gone before me.
I do.

But I appreciate just as much all that's come after. And even more...all that's coming in the future.

Imagine how much better we all ski now than before. Imagine how much will open up.
post #12 of 23
My 1239 nymber is the Central Division number. My national number is 129666.

Like Weems, I've experienced and witnessed tremendous change and growth in skiing technology and skills over the last sixty years, and look forward to future developments.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Weems, as I mentioned there was an associate ski instructors pin at that time, not an associate certified instructors pin, see my original post.

>>>>Prior to 1965 or so the certification in the US was the USSA=United States Ski Association and there were two stages to it, the round pin was called an Associate Ski Instructor, (NOT an Associate CERTIFIED ski instructor) and was for the not-ready-for-prime-time instructors, and the rectangular pin was called the Certified Ski Instructors pin.<<<<

The USSA held instructors exam had a cut off point above which you were a certified instructor, and just below to another cutoff point were the associate instructors, below that was failing.

But the confusion was high at the time and the divisions were vying for superiority, mostly the Eastern and the Rocky Mountain divisions, and as I see in the thread "are eastern skiers better" or some such the rivalry hasn't abated much.

My post was originally posted in VS1's blog where misconceptions were posted as fact so I just put my 2 cents in and Cirque asked me to put it here because it may be of some interest.

But I'm happy that some of you have updates to this thread.

....Ott
post #14 of 23

Nat#102949, PSIA-NW 3932

Otto Lang played a role in developing independent Certification exams in PNSIA. As far as who skis better East or Rocky mountain if I may refer to former US Ski Team Coaches Albert Arnaud and Theo Nadig. In the late 70's they focused on skier development programs in the pacific northwest. They observed that these programs stressed more free skiing in varied conditions. These skiers were more freequently on steeper hills with rugged snow conditions. Gate training was limited to the older skiers and results were forthcoming as evidenced by the success of Phil and Steve Maher, Bill Johnson and Deb Armstrong all products of ski programs in the NW. By contrast skiers on the east coast and in the rocky mtns skied packed snow on moderate slopes and began gate training at an earlier age. Albert and Theo reasoned that while these skiers were dominate in J5-J2 by the time they reached maturity they either lost interest or were over trained. They opted to NW programs that stressed strong fundamentals, mileage and fun in early development.

With ski instructors it doesn't matter so much where you are from. Each division has their own preferences created by local topography, weather and snow conditions.
post #15 of 23
My national number is 212757. There's a lot of us out there.
post #16 of 23
Interesting, Ott. I'm not sure, but I think the East at that time was either you're in at full or your out. I can't really remember when the exams were separated in RM, but I don't remember a cutoff. But I'm pretty senile!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl View Post
Weems, as I mentioned there was an associate ski instructors pin at that time, not an associate certified instructors pin, see my original post.

>>>>Prior to 1965 or so the certification in the US was the USSA=United States Ski Association and there were two stages to it, the round pin was called an Associate Ski Instructor, (NOT an Associate CERTIFIED ski instructor) and was for the not-ready-for-prime-time instructors, and the rectangular pin was called the Certified Ski Instructors pin.<<<<

The USSA held instructors exam had a cut off point above which you were a certified instructor, and just below to another cutoff point were the associate instructors, below that was failing.

But the confusion was high at the time and the divisions were vying for superiority, mostly the Eastern and the Rocky Mountain divisions, and as I see in the thread "are eastern skiers better" or some such the rivalry hasn't abated much.

My post was originally posted in VS1's blog where misconceptions were posted as fact so I just put my 2 cents in and Cirque asked me to put it here because it may be of some interest.

But I'm happy that some of you have updates to this thread.

....Ott
post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
-Weems, you are probably correct, the Eastern were a gritty bunch, tough as nails and cold as ice . I got that round Associate pin in the fall and the rectangle Full pin in the Spring exam in the Central Division but I thought that USSA was consistent nationwide, maybe/probably not.

A lot of wailing at the bar in the evening, " I am never coming back" was often heard, but they were back next year .

....Ott
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl View Post
-
A lot of wailing at the bar in the evening, " I am never coming back" was often heard, but they were back next year .

....Ott
As one who has tried repeatedly to mentor folks going through the exam process (frequently with success), I've heard that lament many a time.
post #19 of 23
I married two different "wailers in the bar". Does this make me a predator?
post #20 of 23
Not unless you married them to yourself
post #21 of 23
The East went to Associate in the 1978/79 season.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weems
I married two different "wailers in the bar". Does this make me a predator?
No... but if at the same time, perhaps a polygamist.

.ma
post #23 of 23
Naw. It was serial.

It is a fact, though, that level 3 instructors are allowed to perform temporary weddings--either for students, friends in the bar, or themselves. Along with that privilege goes the the authority to anull them when necessary. It's in the by-laws, pp something or other.
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