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Misrepresentation of PSIA certification - ski deck instructor

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Last weekend, I visited a nearby shopping mall that had recently opened, and much to my surprise, one of the outdoor stores had installed a "ski deck", ie, an endless rug ski training machine.

Thinking that my daughter would absolutely *LOVE* this, she might want to have her birthday party there, AND it would be good for her skiing, I asked several salesmen about the procedures, hours it was in operation, and finally, about the instructors. Well, it turns out that they only have one instructor.

I asked about his qualifications, & everyone was absolutely sure that he was PSIA certified, and at least an L-2. If true, I was preparing to be very impressed, and sign my kid up. Why, they even had a big PSIA logo proudly displayed in the area of the ski machine, so everything sounded completely on the up and up.

I eventually found their instructor, told him that I was interested in lessons for my daughter, and started to have an extremely pleasant conversation with him.

Thinking that it would give him some bragging rights, I asked him if he was PSIA certified. He replied, "Absolutely!". I then asked what level, and he immediately tried to dodge the question with comments like, "There are no levels".

I instantly went from "this is great" mode to suspicious mode. I then played a bit dumb, and commented that other instructors have always make a big deal about the three levels. His response was:

"That's only for instructors at ski areas";

"I've had 2 years teaching experience", etc. etc.

I finally got sick of this and asked him point blank if he had to take any training for this job specifically, participate in any PSIA clinics or take any exams. At this point, he realized that I was suspicious and probably knew a bit about the industry, so, in essence, he finally admitted that he wasn't certified by saying:

"I don't want to become certified since I do amateur racing and being a pro would disqualify me", etc, etc.

I would guess that >99% of recreational skiers would have been given the false impression that this guy was at least a PSIA L-2, and not just a "registered" or "affiliate" (whatever the correct PSIA term is).

I don't what PSIA's policy is on dry-land teaching establishments and their instructors, but if it is the same as the $100 + and L2/3 director that BobB mentioned in a different thread, then either (a)this guy's boss isn't active any more or doesn't care, or (b) a boss (in the sense of a SSD) doesn't exist.

I would imagine that PSIA would frown on the latter, as well as on the evasive maneuverings of this instructor (bordering on deception) as soon as the subject of qualifications came up.

Obviously, nobody's skiing career is going to get derailed if this guy doesn't give a good 15 min lesson on a ski deck, but still, what a sleeze!!!

Any instructors have comments on the exact rules for such facilities, how to handle this situation (ie, besides the obvious of sending a message to corporate management)?

Tom / PM

[ August 20, 2002, 09:05 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #2 of 10
I think you handled the matter perfectly. I don't know anything about PSIA in your area, however, someone should be able to direct you to a website and you could discuss with the local region the use of the logo. I'm afraid they won't do much.
post #3 of 10
Thanks for the report, Tom. Things like this really do concern me. I don't recall what PSIA's requirements are for deck-skiing instruction, but I do know that PSIA is almost obsessively concerned with protecting its copyrights and trademarks. If that was not a legitimate use of the PSIA shield, I'm sure they'd like to know about it (and I kind of hope it wasn't, from your description).

I've just done a little searching around the PSIA site for information on ski-deck instruction. There's no mention of it, that I could find, no certification standards, nothing. I seem to recall, though, that PSIA had SOME sort of program or something. Someone asked about it in the PSIA member forum back in February, but no one replied (no real surprise there, unfortunately).

Oh well.... Any idea what this guy was teaching? (Just curious.)

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 10
While we're on the subject of the ski deck, are there any specific benefits to training on the deck? Can you edge the skis and make turns or do you ride a flat ski?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
...I've just done a little searching around the PSIA site for information on ski-deck instruction. There's no mention of it, that I could find, no certification standards, nothing. .... Any idea what this guy was teaching? (Just curious.)
Thanks for looking. Should you ever run into any info on the subject, I suspect that some people on Epic would have interest in it.

With respect to the teaching abilities of this guy, I can't really say since I never actually saw him teach. However, I also was very interested in this, and so I probed him a bit, and at one point, he said something that suggested he knew about gliding wedges, corresponding edges, knees moving in the same direction, etc., which was a positive sign.

With respect to his background, I was getting very mixed messages from him. At one point he said that he was big into racing (skiing), but at another point, he said that his primary interest was boarding. Who knows ...

FWIW, I may still let my daughter try it for fun, but not emphasize the teaching aspect - ie, more like an amusement park ride with the guy acting more like an operator than a ski instructor.

Originally posted by HarveyD:
While we're on the subject of the ski deck, are there any specific benefits to training on the deck? Can you edge the skis and make turns or do you ride a flat ski?
I have never tried one myself, so I am not speaking from personal experience. However, from what I have seen, beginners tend to ride a flat ski on it. More advanced people certainly get their skis up on edge a bit and make "turns". The problems with these are:

1) All the "turns" that I have seen are highly skidded with a minimal carving component.

2) The "turns" tend to be changes in the direction the skis are pointing, not changes in the direction the skis are actually moving (ie, sperm turns down the fall line, not carved arcs).

3) It certainly is possible to make short radius carved arcs, but the small size of the skiable area (maybe 10 feet wide on this particular machine) really keeps one from doing anything approaching normal skiing. It would be more like skiing down a narrow corridor.

4) Since you are never going to develop any significant amount of "across the hill" speed, you are also never going to develop any significant amount of lateral acceleration, so you'll be using less banking (and more angulation) than normal if you want to try carving on one of these devices.

5) Since the uphill-downhill extent of the skiable area is even smaller than its width, you certainly can't ever develop any real (ie, relative to the earth) downhill velocity. Thus, you will never be able to experience the g-forces you get on real snow when you carve out the bottom of a turn, hit the brakes in a hockey stop, etc. If you try this on one of these machines, you will be swept "uphill" in a flash, hit one of the safety bars, and turn the machine off.

Basically, I consider it primarily as "fun", with some possibilities for limited training at the lower levels, eg, getting across the idea of corresponding edges in gliding wedges, fore-aft balance and rudiments of pressuring in skidded turns, etc. It has some value, but certainly is not a close simulation of "the real thing", especially for advanced skiers.

Tom / PM

[ August 21, 2002, 10:45 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #6 of 10
Pivot slips.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Heh. Find a ski deck, and you too can be an expert in these!

[ August 21, 2002, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #8 of 10
Hi PhysicsMan,

I was curious about this earlier. Actually my first post was an inquiry in this regard. My guess is that these "toys" offer great value for the never - ever and those in the beginner arena. Not unlike some of the offhill home equipment sold in magazines and at swap meets, etal. I guess there is also value for those inbetween trips as in doing your crunches every morning will keep some of the flab off and keep you somewhat limber, etc. There is nothing that can compare to the real thing, however.

Under the auspices of a certified and motivated instructor, though, I believe this could be a great insight to ones indiosynchracies. The instructor (again motivated and responsible) could view the student from different refernce points, and consequently would be able to advise the student about banking issues, balance issues, canting possibilities, more.

In the right hands, I think this could be a good thing.

Your experience should definitely be reported to the PSIA, and maybe the BBB depending on what their claims are. There probably isn't much that can be done since it is a private business venture. But, one never knows, do one!
post #9 of 10
You may want to contact the people at these sites.


And there are seveal other too. They offer ski-deck and on-slope CERTIFIED PSIA instruction.

Is it valuable? I think so. I went from moderate blue's at the end of two years ago to skiing easy blacks by the middle of December last year. Even more, I have two of my kids on it right now, every other weekend. One is a brand new skier and the other can keep up with me. Both, like me, are refining our technique. That is one of the great advantage of using the deck. Consistant condition and slope. You work on feeling the edges. Usually they have skis for you to use, we just bring our boots.

One of the advanced tricks that I got taught last year, was to do donuts (360's) on the deck by using edge changes. I can now do it with one ski on. Or continuesly with two skis on. That has been the hook to get the kids on.

Some of the instructors also teach snowboarding. You need a little time to convert to actual snow conditions, half a day.

One of the most knowlegable in this area is Tim Kott of Virtual Snow of Tahoe. Give him a buzz.
post #10 of 10
Ski Doctors is run by John Clendenin, former world bump champion. He is fully cert in PSIA and one of the very few Black Level PMTS trainers. John is, without a doubt, one of the finest instructors, anywhere. The staff that I have met are all cert LII or III.

It is quite possible to use fairly high edge angles, but you had better be correct, or it is a trip to the top of the deck, on your butt!!
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