VailSkiGal--Yours is a common perception, but I think the perception is not necessarily reality. While I would love to go back to a system that involved two or more examiners for each group, I am not convinced that there is usually a significant difference between examiners. I am not convinced that the added cost--which you would have to pay--would actually change the results significantly! We have worked hard--probably harder than most divisions--to create better consistency and uniformity in beliefs, understanding, and scoring among the examiner staff.
The real reason, of course--the only reason, that we went to a one-examiner format was to make the exam more affordable for our many full-time (and therefore woefully underpaid) instructors in the Rocky Mountain Division. We did it only after reaching a consensus that we could actually be consistent from examiner to examiner.
Nothing will ever be 100% consistent, no matter how many examiners watch you. But whenever two or more examiners watch the same performance, it is remarkable how very consistent we tend to be. This happens more than you may realize, too. New examiners must "apprentice" for at least a season, which requires them to shadow/audit several exams, with several different examiners. They throw scores on the performances independently of the "real" examiner. When I did it, I shadowed examiners that I knew saw eye-to-eye with me, and others who I suspected would have very different ideas and opinions than mine. In no case, through hundreds of individual scores at all levels of exams, did we throw scores more than 1 point apart! By far the majority of the scores were identical. And when we didn't agree exactly, not even once would our differences have altered the pass/fail result. Even I was surprised, and very pleased because it validated our system strongly. I had had the same doubts as you!
Another way that we try to create consistency is to have the exam manager--who is also an examiner--circulate around the various groups and observe a run or two with each examiner.
As you probably know, we also have an ongoing "verification" program in our division for our Education Staff. At Fall Training, we all ski through the same stations, observed by the same "verifier," to make sure that we all understand and perform the various exam tasks similarly. We will do lap after lap, until the performance is correct. If not, that examiner does not work exams!
So there are a few checks and balances. We are about as consistent as we could probably be, given the one-examiner format. Two examiners would be great, if everyone wanted to pay the additional cost. But the reality is that you would almost always be paying more money just to have two sets of eyes agree completely!
Our system does set itself up, naturally, for the criticism and concern that you have expressed. That is probably its biggest problem. We continue to address it, every year, balancing costs with effectiveness and the need for both the reality and the perception of consistency. I think every examiner would love to have the confirmation that a second examiner would give us, too. How much are you willing to pay for MY peace of mind?
Anyway, VSG, I wish you success at the exam tomorrow and Friday! Look me up--I'll be there in the morning. I'll be doing the second day of a Level 2 exam tomorrow, then a one day skiing-only Level 3 exam on Friday. I'll especially be interested in your perceptions of the process after it's over. Stay in touch!