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Well, I Passed Half My Skiing Tasks (Long)

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I took my Level II skiing exam this past Saturday, and wanted to share my perspective.

First of all, I want to say that I skied my best. Secondly, I have 100% confidence in the examiners' ability to judge my skiing fairly and accurately, and if they say I'm not up to Level II standards, then I am not. Period. That said, here's what happened ....

Saturday was a beautiful day, with perfect conditions. We had had hot sticky spring slush for the last few weeks, with temps in the 60s, but Wednesday night we got almost a foot of new snow, and the temps stayed in the 20s and 30s. So Saturday morning was mostly sunny and around 26 degrees. The snow was groomed and super fast. Granted, it warmed up as the day went on, but for the duration of the exam it was close to perfect. So no excuses there! Also, I've been having a lot of boot problems lately, but I was pain-free that day (thanks to my awesome bootfitter, Bob Olsen), so no excuses there, either.

I was in a group of 8 candidates, 4 of whom I already knew. The examiners were Marty O'Conner from somewhere in Washington (Snoqualmie Summit, maybe?) and Sarah Richardson, from Timberline. I had met Sarah once before, but not Marty. Both of them were really nice, and put us at ease quickly. We took a warm up run on easy terrain, and on the next run, we practiced a task or two on the way to the bunny slope. There, we practiced wedge christies, and then did them "for the money." Then it was back to the main hill, where we would practice a task, then do it for a grade. We blazed through 9 of the 10 tasks before lunch. After lunch we skied the bumps, and then went back and revisited some of the earlier tasks. Sarah and Marty made it clear that our grades would never go down from what they were before lunch, but that they could go up. They gave us a little coaching, and we skied some of the tasks over, but always in a "one right after the other" format, no call downs. We were finished by 2:30, and were to meet back at 4:15 for the results.

The whole thing seemed really easy-going and laid back. No pressure, everybody was supportive of each other, everybody was friendly. I felt good about my skiing -- I felt that the way I skied that day was the way I ski when I'm skiing my best. Well, except in the bumps -- I thought I could have done better there.

The Ski School End of Year Party was that afternoon, so I went and hung out there until 4:15. We met back with the examiners, and everyone who was not taking the teaching module on Sunday got their results. That was 5 of us. I was very sad when I saw that I had failed. It's a horrible, sinking, vulnerable, raw feeling. Of the 5 of us, 1 passed, 3 failed, and 1 I don't know. Apparently I still don't have flexion & extension figured out, and that's my main problem. The tasks I failed were Short Radius, Short Swing, Rhythm Changes, One Ski Turns, and Straight Run Hop Ski to Ski. The examiners stayed to talk to us as long as we wanted, which was very appreciated. The two other non-passers and I talked to them for quite awhile. We all have a huge amount of desire to improve.

Back at the party, everyone was incredibly supportive. I can't even put into words how much all the hugs and encouragement meant to me. I hate to get all mushy, especially in this hugely public forum, but that was the high point of the season for me. So my high and low points were within a few minutes of each other -- what a roller coaster day it was. Or maybe "super pipe day" is a better metaphor. Anyway, to all the Meadows instructors who were there and are reading this -- Thanks.

The end result of the exam is that I'm more fired up about improving than ever. Level II is just a step on my journey, and I'll get there, and I'll move beyond it, too. In the immediate future, I have 2 more weeks to ski at Meadows, then 2 race camps at Timberline in July. Next year I'm planning on attending one "big" training event (which is something I've never done before). Maybe something in PSIA, maybe ESA, maybe a privately run camp somewhere. Not sure yet. But I'll go somewhere. And of course we have in-house clinics every weekend which I never miss. And this summer I'm determined to get boots that fit!

Thanks for reading this far. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Sue
post #2 of 26
Sue:

With your wonderful attitude and your desire, you will get your Level II! Good luck.

Nancy
post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by skier31:
Sue:

With your wonderful attitude and your desire, you will get your Level II! Good luck.

Nancy
I agree. Good luck in your quest.

We'll all be cheering you on.

Thanks for your report. If you happen to meet Dave Beckwith (Snoqualmie) tell him I said Hi.
post #4 of 26
If I had half your positive attitude, I could move the mountain instead of my "lower legs".
[See Effective Cues cards)

Cheers to Sue!
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Nancy, dchan and BJ! And BJ, congratulations on your fist post -- no more lurking! ("BJ" and I are friends in real life.)
post #6 of 26
Sue- Boy did I miss out! I thought all the exams and clinics were done for the year at Meadows. I've been working at Cooper Spur for 3 years. Our ski director, Michael, has been working with me on a lot of stuff you spoke of.

We worked on the extention/flexation without any upward movement in the body. At one point toward the end of a run he said he would ski behind me and say "hiccup" ever time he saw an up movement (i.e.) unweighting. I tried hard not to do that. I made 3 turns and heard hiccup 3 times from him! I came to a sreeching hault and said, "What the hell am I doing wrong?" He laughed! We worked on it some more and bingo I got it.

I found it's a metered extention and flexation extending outward, feeling the centrifagul (sp) force of the turn, metering the flexation back to transition or neutral (legs under you) and then to the other side (extention) without any upward body movement. This way all movement is focused downhill or moving downhill with the upper body rock-hard steady... no up or down movement at all. If I feel any lightness in the body (such as you feel in an elevator) during transition, I just hiccuped! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Boots? I know what you mean! My boots are finally fitting, but the main problem I have is my left foot more than my boot. Rats! I have a fallen arch in my left foot. This usually means the metatarsal arch is gone too. My fitter put a small pad under that meta-arch and the pain went away.

Have you taken the written test yet? I hear level II stresses more on the teaching aspect. also I hear the new study books came out. I don't know if I have the new ones or old ones. When did they come out? what differences do you see in them?

Also, what are some things they look for in the skiing tasks on hill? Appreciate the help. Bob
post #7 of 26
Sue,

As I've said before "boats are safe in the harbor, but, that's not what boats are for."

Congratulations on putting yourself on the line and accepting the event for the learning event that it is. Your PMA (positive mental attitude) will take you far.

Bob
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks, WVSkier. You're right -- at least I tried!

jyarddog: The new books came out 2 or 3 years ago, so you probably have them. The written was a complete joke. Way way way too easy. On the hill, they look for all the criteria that are listed in the cert guide, found on psia-nw.org. All the training events and exams are also listed on that site. Who's your boot fitter?

Sue
post #9 of 26
Great! I'll go to the website if I can find my id number. We moved - bought a house and an acre and since I can't find my cotton-pickin' books!

I go to John over at Ski Chalet. he told me about that metatarsal arch thing. Going to try to make it up to Meadows, Sunday and meet Slider again. Maybe we can make some turns together, anyone else too! Bob
post #10 of 26
jyarddog,

If you go to the www.psia-w.org site, education material, you can download the study guides in PDF format.

I'm not sure if anyone has the core concepts or technical manual on line yet but at least the study guides are out there.

DC
post #11 of 26
dchan- thanx- will do.
post #12 of 26
oops. that's instruction material, not education.

http://www.psia-w.org/ins/inshome.htm
post #13 of 26
With regards to the flexion/extension without upward body movement, Stu Campbell took us for a session in December, and we played with the idea of starting the turn long, and finishing long. So you were kind of sending the feet out at the start, and the finish...a big cross-under move. We experimented with locking the hips, and then letting them get involved again. It felt pretty good.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Ant - I was in a clinic this year where we learned what sounds like a similar thing. The cross-under move felt much more natural to me than the cross-over. I should revisit it.

I've often wondered how examiners would "like" such a style. Seems like the cross-over is the "official" PSIA turn. What do you think? I suppose it would be best for one to be able to do both.
post #15 of 26
I've often wondered how examiners would "like" such a style. Seems like the cross-over is the "official" PSIA turn. What do you think? I suppose it would be best for one to be able to do both.

Depends where on the mountain you are. Cross over is not the best move for crud or powder, retraction turns work much better in sticky crud. Retraction turns are more of a "cross under" move and here in western, that's a required task (retraction turns) at level 3.

The more different skills you have to use, the more of the mountain will become your playground [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by ant:
With regards to the flexion/extension without upward body movement, Stu Campbell took us for a session in December, and we played with the idea of starting the turn long, and finishing long. So you were kind of sending the feet out at the start, and the finish...a big cross-under move. We experimented with locking the hips, and then letting them get involved again. It felt pretty good.
Finishing "long" in a cross-under turn does not make too much sense. That would be more of a cross-over approach. I don't get this at all. :
post #17 of 26
Agree, Dchan! It's all grist to the mill. When this start and finish long move began to work for me, it felt very stable, very aggressive, and very quick. I felt like a big powerful racer. It was interesting to turn the hips off and on, too, and feel how that affected things.
Stu taught it particularly well, which added to the whole experience.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by suebrown:
... I have 100% confidence in the examiners' ability to judge my skiing fairly and accurately, and if they say I'm not up to Level II standards, then I am not. Period.

Sue
I commend you for not blaming it on the low pass rate. It takes a big person to accept failure - or rather "not meeting the standards (L2)". For what its worth, Marty was one of my examiners & I know Sarah, and i can't imagine them being anything but objective examiners.

You mentioned not understanding flexion/extension - did they ding you for lack of extension or over-flexed?

R.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally posted by ant:
start and finish long move
Ant,

can you or anyone else briefly explain what this is or means? I suppose there would be "start short, finish sort" and all the other combinations?

Thanks
post #20 of 26
Peak, when you are next on skis, just try it. From memory, the upper body got very blocky, facing straight down the line of travel. The legs travelled underneath, from side to side, so at the turn's start, they were out to the side, ditto for the finish. I'm not very good at explaining it, sorry! Pity Stu's not around.

He taught this move amazingly, he broke it down into bits, and we did those, and then he added things, so it was a cumulative learning session. What we ended up with was a move that we really owned (for me I own it physically, not mentally!), it felt rock-solid.

We did something similar with Dave Merriam later in the season, but his focus was early edge engagement, but the move felt very similar, shuttling the legs and feet underneath a very stable body.
post #21 of 26
Ant:

Do you mean from apex to apex - the legs are longest when the skis are off to the side, short at edge change. I remember PJ Jones talking about this at a clinic years ago - rather than think about the finish & start of a turn at the edge change, think about a turn as from fall-line to fall-line. It should lead to a smoother transition.

R.
post #22 of 26
That sounds very similar, yes. The only words I remember from the session was "start long, finish long". It was a strong, stable way of skiing...I need some snow to go do it and work out the nitty gritty of it all!
post #23 of 26
'start long, finish long '

Starting and finishing what exactly? You will need a new word to describe what isn't a turn but 2 opposite half turns, more of a wiggle really...short swing shimmies, compression wiggles, jump jiggles, the entire skiing canon now has to be rewritten.
post #24 of 26
To me, "start long and finish long" does not make sense if the following apply:

1) a turn is finished/started when you change direction
2) you want to do cross-under when changing direction

However, from turn apex to apex, you are indeed "long".
post #25 of 26
'However, from turn apex to apex, you are indeed "long". '

'from'?

but surely it is only at those apexes that you are long, progressively shortening to and lengthening from the midpoint/edgechange?

It defines an exercise rather than a turn.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by HundenMaster:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by suebrown:
... I have 100% confidence in the examiners' ability to judge my skiing fairly and accurately, and if they say I'm not up to Level II standards, then I am not. Period.

Sue
I commend you for not blaming it on the low pass rate. It takes a big person to accept failure - or rather "not meeting the standards (L2)". For what its worth, Marty was one of my examiners & I know Sarah, and i can't imagine them being anything but objective examiners.

You mentioned not understanding flexion/extension - did they ding you for lack of extension or over-flexed?

R.
</font>[/quote]Normally, I ski constantly flexed. No extension. But they told me that I was neither flexed nor extended, just static. I wish I had a video of me during the exam. Not because I think they're wrong, but because I just want to see how I skied.

You're right, Marty and Sarah were totally objective. And they were very kind when they gave out the bad news. I suppose the legendary egocentric bastard PSIA examiners who fail people out of spite must exist somewhere, but I have yet to meet one. Not that I've met that many examiners ...

Seriously, though, my goal and desire is to be a great skier and teacher, and when I am, I'll pass the exams.

BTW, I didn't make this clear before, but I haven't taken the teaching portion of the exam yet.
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