or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Teaching Adaptive Skiing

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I recently took on the challenge of directing skiing and instruction for an adaptive ski program in the midwest. The program has 5 sites and over 250 volunteer instructors. There is a dedicated core of instructors who are passionate teachers and skiers who train the new instructors in small groups at each site. There is a fair amount of turn-over in instructors every year so basic introduction to adaptive equipment and even basic ski instruction is required. The program is wildly popular with students as evidenced by the yearly waiting list and has a good safety record. This tells me that we have addressed the first two parts of the credo "Be safe, have fun, learn to ski". My question for the forum is what I can do to raise the level of instruction and encourage instructors to work toward teaching as much independance as possible? We have too many examples of "going-for-a-ride" sessions. This is an easy trap to fall into in bi-ski and even stand-up, especially with students that are less communicative on a very, VERY small hill. In my own skiing I have taken on teaching as the challenge in our level land. How can I structure the two days of on-the-hill training that we have to address the teaching component of this program?
post #2 of 8
Have you tried stressing the American Teaching System? If you incorporate that into your training clinics, your instructors can carry it over into there lessons.
I would be curious about how much disability awareness the instructors have. Start talking about students graduating from ski school. Ask them to assess what the student is lacking to be an independent skier. Review some lessons like case studies, discuss a lesson plan for a student. You can have mock students on your training days. If you have the experience, act out a common student and have your instructors brainstorm to get you to wedge, or stop, or link turns.
Good Luck.
post #3 of 8
That is one reason I have my doubts about the concept of a totally seperate system for disabled instructing....

As a disabled student in an integrated system the instructors teach able bodied & disabled clients... so they have always tended to focus me on what I did THE SAME as other skiers - just that I needed to learn to do it differently...

They accept no lesser goals for me than they would for any other skier... just that I may take longer & have to work harder to achieve the same result...

As I improve they simply are moving more into the same types of lessons an abled bodied client would have... they perceive the spectrum as continuous because that is how they teach it.... everything from one end to the other....

As an example one of my instructors is a canadian provincial race coach - yet I have seen him back here with sit skiers that have severe problems... I am just somewhere between his race people & the more disabled clients.... I ski better than many students that are able bodied - but have a harder time learning to do so...
Simply put - he teaches ME so why do I need to be in a seperate ski school for that?
post #4 of 8
Great question, but one that might not have one answer that will solve everything. I have taught both alpine and adaptive skiing for 8 years spending the last 2 of those 8 years as program director for a large adaptive program in the New England. I was lucky and came into the program after this desire to help students become independent was instilled into the coaches. With that said it is a goal that we have to keep a constant eye on so we don't let it slip form our view.
One thing that has already been mentioned that has played a big part in this is the use of ATS and PSIA certification. Cert has become a goal of a large part of our adaptive instructors. With that comes a good understanding of teaching methods and in most a desire to share what they have learned with both their students and other coaches.
It is easy to take someone for ride, but as coaches take pride in what they have to offer that becomes less and less common, and in our programs case the desire to teach students spreads through the group.

Another factor that can play a big part is the retention of coaches. If your programs are like most you rely on volunteers. I found that recruiting at local colleges has been good as it is a source of students looking to learn and often looking for a cheap way to ski and in many cases they are around for at least two sometimes four years.

Best of luck with this challenge. If there is anyway I can help or other info you are looking for please let me know here or in a PM.
post #5 of 8
At our hill all the adaptive instructors are made to also get regular PSIA level 1 certified, and teach some "regular" classes. But, the emphasis on their time is still the adaptive program.

I'd call Gwen Allard (or anyone in her office) at Windham in NY www.skiwindham.com . She is the pioneer in Adaptive, and they have a huge program there. You may also want to ask questions to Leslie White at Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports (BRASS) brasski@earthlink.net . She started the program at a small PA. hill and it's growing.

Good luck....
post #6 of 8

I've been involved in teaching adaptive skiing for 10 years and adaptive-certified by PSIA for the past 3. There is nothing like it! The key word is ADAPTIVE. Every single skier is going to present a new challenge; you'll never teach the same lesson twice. Consequently, you will need a bag of tricks that is some exponential number of what a regular instructor has. Canned PSIA techniques rarely are enough by themselves (although the physics of skiing remains constant). That's why trying to retread instructors by teaching them a few fundamentals really doesn't work. Do you have any instructors that are interested in getting PSIA Adaptive certification? The investment of time and effort, not to mention the rewards (we see miracles, every day!), ought to help you to build a dedicated staff.

I have seen many instructors try to force the student into a PSIA progression, to the frustration of both the student and the instructor. For a severe CP student, for example, "Going-for-a-ride" may be the best that they are ever going to do. What a joy to see that ear-to-ear grin on their faces! For a severe autism student, just getting him to let go and glide 20 feet into my arms might be a major triumph. So don't worry too much about instructors "teaching as much independance as possible." The unstated ending of that sentence is "as soon as possible." Yes, that is the ultimate goal, but you'll never get there if you try to force it. Instead, create a comfortable learning environment, use terrain, games, challenges to foster the desired learning, and you will be successful. It sounds like you have a good student base on which to build your program. Pray for snow, and good luck!

post #7 of 8
I've been thinking about investigating Adaptive teaching this winter, as my resort has a good programme. I initially was casting about for a 2nd discipline, as to go for PSIA III, you need to get certified in something other than skiing (correct me if i'm wrong). Snowboarding was the obvious choice, but very unappealing! Reading these posts has confirmed my notion that becoming an Adaptive instructor gives one more tools of the trade generally. Having this bigger toolbag must benefit all one's teaching, I should imagine.
post #8 of 8
Hi TaSki: Your question is a very enlightening one. Both OklahomaSkiBum and I have found at our program the more training offered the greater the returns for both instructors and students alike. We have found that some key elements exist, which continue to fuel our program's success.

They are: 1)Create a fun and caring environment for each student, 2)provide your coaches/instructors with continuous improvement in training methods, 3)encourage certification at everylevel and across multiple disciplines starting with Alpine certification first and then move toward Adaptive cert next.

Finally, but not last by any means, encourage parents participation from the outset whether they ski or not. Inclusion is what this is all about for the families of disabled athletes. The more inclusion occurs, the greater opportunities for broader levels of independence.

As one of the other coaches in this forum mentioned, the smile on his student's face is what it's really all about. Don't despair if a student likes to take "Disney" rides as we call them. We have a wonderful family, who has a cute little boy, which rides the bi-ski. The best part is that his father leads where they ski and his mom has learned to tether him. His younger brother in turn skis along side of him and talks to him. This family drives to NH every weekend to ski as a family. As it has turned out one of their neighbors children is also a disabled child, who skis with us as well. It has become a real family affair!!!!

As the former Tech Director at the White Mountain Adaptive Snow Sports School for the last six seasons, I can tell you that success breeds success with coaches, parents, and students. Keep it fun, safe, light, and caring and you'll have a never ending waiting list of students.

Happy Trails ****** Whtmt & MacKenzie
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching