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A few PSIA-related questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Sorry, this will be a mix of questions, I am not sure wether I should separate out in different threads or not.

- Where can I find info detailing exactly the levels you guys refer to? I can't find it on the psia.org site. Do you need to be an instructor to understand them or are they described somewhere?

- What do you think of ski schools that do not have PSIA instructors (for example, many schools that teach to kids).

- My kids went to such a school, and I am considering teaching next year (I used to teach skiing when I was in college in Europe). Can I study and take PSIA certifications myself? Is it an expensive process?

post #2 of 8
Last I was aware, you need to be employed by a ski school, have the recommendation of your director, attend the event and have documented at least 50 hours of on the hill teaching prior to taking a L-1 event.

Most hill will hire you after you attend their (usually two weekend/four day new-hire clinic. Most places charge for the clinic; some will refund the money at the end of your first year .... many won't.

Be sure you check around for the "best deals". Try to find out about salary and conditions of employment. Some places are classic sweatshops and you are probably going to be shocked if you probe for the real answers. Minimum state wage for which you only get paid for the hours teaching ..... perks like free passes (can you you use them that year or are they only available after the first year of employment?) ..... free skis or great discounts (sometimes),

My point here, is go in with your eyes open. It can be PERSONALLY rewarding, but if you expect to make money and have loads of free ski time with friends and family ..... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #3 of 8
As Frenchie said, there's no PSIA list per se, but the skills levels are outlined in the organization's certification study guides. There are three of them, so you'd have to wade through them all to get the idea. I used to have a link to a good summary of the subject that appeared on EpicSki several years ago, but that link no longer works.

Certification "rules" vary somewhat from division to division because the only way the organizers could get a nationwide agreement to set up PSIA in the 1960's was to leave the certifying in the hands of the local groups. Kind of like a state's rights thing.

Since you don't identify your location, you'll have to figure out for yourself what division of PSIA you live/ski in and contact the appropriate office to determine the certification procedure used there. Every division offers a clinic that basically is an introduction to teaching. Some divisions may require enrollment in that clinic OR nomination from a member ski school to participate in a Level I exam. Every division requires some teaching experience and a ski school executive's signature on the application for the Level II exam, as well as additional teaching experience for taking the Level III exam.

The PSIA website lists the offices for each division. I think they all now have a website with additional contact information.

Here's a general list of the PSIA skills levels provided by AC several years ago:

posted September 22, 2000 09:23 AM
New to the Sport
Level 1:
You have never skied before. Learn about equipment, walking, sliding and stopping in a wedge. Beginning area.

Level 2:
You can stop and turn in a wedge. Learn speed and direction control through turning. Easiest green runs

Level 3:
You can turn confidently in a wedge. Learn to skid your turns and match your skis at the end of the runs. Green runs

Level 4:
You can skid and match your skis parallel at the end of turns on all green runs. Learn to turn more confidently on different and greater terrain. Green runs


Level 5:
You can skid and parallel your turns. Learn about weight transfer and pole planting. Green and some blue runs

Level 6:
You can make totally parallel turns with the pole plant. Learn how to ski small bumps and different snow conditions. Blue runs

Level 7:
You can make parallel turns in any intermediate condition and on any intermediate terrain. Learn how to make short turns and tactics for bumps and powder. Blue and some black runs


Level 8:
You can link short turns in variable snow conditions. Learn and look for steeper, deeper and better terrain to ski. Mostly black runs

Level 9:
You can ski confidently on any expert terrain and in any snow condition. Learn where the locals ski, tactics and strategies for the worst conditions and relaxing while cruising. Black and double black diamond runs

[ May 16, 2003, 05:53 AM: Message edited by: Kneale Brownson ]
post #4 of 8
Here is a link to the PSIA-RM website that includes descriptions of the tasks for the various certification levels. Select either the level I,II, or III sking descriptions. Keep in mind the skiing descriptions are merely a portion of the exam. Prior to the written exam and two days of on snow evaluation, at the levels II and III a candidate attends two days of "clinics" that are mandatory prep for the exam process. Subsequent to the clinics, is a written exam, a "teaching" portion which is a seperate day in the exam process, and a "skiing" portion which is a third day at the level II, and III. Currently in the RM division the clinics and exams are combined into one process for level I.


I guess I was a little confused as to whether you were asking about instructor cert levels (I, II, III) or skier levels (1-9).

It may vary by division, however, an associate member can take the level I exam in the RM division. At the website you can see that, upon passing the exam, the level I "pin" will then be awarded, subsequent to employment by a ski school, and after a certain number (25) of teaching hours.

How do I feel about lessons being given by non-certified instructors? Now that I've obtained my level III cert I wouldn't recommend taking a lesson from a non-cert or anyone less than a level III cert! A little humor there......

The process in it's simplist form "certifies" instructors to teach students at varying levels Level I cert-level 1-3 skiers, level II cert-level 4-6 skiers, level III cert-level 7-9 skiers. That may be overly simplistic.

I have a ten year old daughter who was taught as a beginner and intermediate by two very capable level II certs. One, in addition, has there "children's accred" and is a regular here at epicski. I would have been fine with a level I cert teaching her when she was first on skis. "Storm" who participates here is a superlative kids instructor. I always knew and foremost my daughter would be safe and in addition that she would have a good time. The safety and fun issues were of paramount importance to me. That is not to say "Storm" isn't a great teacher and strong skier. Quite frankly I can't figure out why the guy hasn't gone and done his level III cert other than it's expensive and everyone feels it takes a good deal of work to prepare for the process and if you fail ......

In years past at Eldora, "new instructors" would be hired and undergo training early season. A bulk of the college students would be assigned to the kids center. By mid season they most likely would have attended the level I clinic and exam. It's important to note no school can make them go through the process. Are these new hires well suited to teach in the kids center? You bet they are. They are enthusiastic and the kids love them.

Last year Robin made an attempt to not segregate childrens and adult lineups. We were all generalists. My good friend Robin had many great programs and has moved on, however, early indications are the integrated lineups will continue.

Our new hire training was under the guidance of Bob Barnes and I feel as though the new "non certified" instructors got their careers off on the right foot.

[ May 16, 2003, 06:28 AM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #5 of 8

See this link: Level I Study Guide

This outlines the curriculum for the novice instructor. The TOC has the ATS Levels (just 1-4, the Level I area of teaching). I think PSIA is downplaying ATS levels because they have new ed materials that do not use the ATS 1-9 levels.
post #6 of 8
Originally posted by Ladede:

- Ladede
Where can I find info detailing exactly the levels you guys refer to? I can't find it on the psia.org site. Do you need to be an instructor to understand them or are they described somewhere?

They are described in the alpine study guide level 1, 2 and 3 that you can get from PSIA.

Roughly Level 1 is a complete beginner, level 2 is able to stop and link wedge turns, level 3 is able to link wedge turn in a more elegant manner. Level 4 match the ski parallele after crossing the fall line. Level 5 match before the fall line and is introduced to pole plant. Level 6 is a basic parallel skier, on green terrain advance wedge on blue. Level 7 open stance parallel on blue and easy black, ski bumps on blue runs with speed control. Level 8 Short and long radius dynamic parallel turns on easy blacks and open parallel on harder terrain. Black bumps with speed control and few stops. Still challenged by difficult snow conditions. Level 9 good technique everywhere.

Can I study and take PSIA certifications myself? Is it an expensive process?

I don't know if there is new rule but you could take the level 1 by yourself by studying the Level 1 manual, go to the clinic for level 1 offered in your area and take the exam. Total cost under 200$, I think. To take the more advanced level you are required to be enrolled in a ski school.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by yuki:
My point here, is go in with your eyes open. It can be PERSONALLY rewarding, but if you expect to make money and have loads of free ski time with friends and family ..... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
I'm not trying to make money. Given the pays I've seen, I am not sure that would cover gas and I would haven to buy new clothes to match the ski school's colors (yuck; I just bought new clothes last year)! But the hill my kids go to is wonderful for them but not exciting for me, and I thought I could use my time better, and help people out. Teaching is one way, and I've also considered volunteer ski patrol (which doesn't pay and cost you a lot in training and equipment fees too!).

Thanks guys for your answers.


[ May 16, 2003, 01:00 PM: Message edited by: Ladede ]
post #8 of 8
Since you mention family and kids, one of the things that you look into (if so inclined) is the junior race program or the junior development team..... depending on how old your kids are.

My son hit the development team and took off like a rocket. Skiing with dad is OK .... but, when they are in with kids their own age and get six, seven, ten hours of snow time under them with no parental pressure, LOOK OUT! That is the biggest reason that I stay involved. Usually, you are getting the program at half price and it works out to FIFTY CENTS an hour for something that'll put your kids light years ahead of the casual approach.

One of my finest moments this year, I was standing alongside a trail that bordered the lift and as my son went by ...... heads were turning to watch him ...... at 12 ..... he's now better and faster than "this ol' man". :

But he'd better watch it cause I do the wax & tune .... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
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