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About those who teach the teachers

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
There have been comments in several threads lately about people who have naturally strong balance not understanding the need for others to learn stronger balance skills. I would like to expand on that point a little.

For a very long time the top skiers in the instruction realm were those who not only had strong innate balance skills but they were also those who were the ones who happened to come closest to being in proper alignment. When someone came along who had an alignment problem they couldn’t understand why that person couldn’t “get it” and learn to ski properly. To them it was so obvious how things worked and they just didn’t realize how an alignment issue could make it impossible for someone else to see the obvious. For a long time this was forgivable because only racers, and their coaches, at upper levels knew shit about alignment. But i still see it happening today, and damn it, even if they are in perfect alignment themselves they should learn enough about the subject to see how it causes problems for others. And too many of them don’t do this. Not a year goes by that I don’t hear a remark from trainer/DECL level instructors that someone seems unable to “make the adjustments necessary in their skiing” when there is a fairly obvious alignment issue that prevents them “making those adjustments”. Unfortunately, the ones who can’t “make the adjustments” are the ones at the top doing the examining/training not the poor souls on the receiving end. And the further shame for the industry is that the line instructors don’t learn about these issues to help them help their students.

If I am ranting again please forgive me but i would like to hear any other thoughts on this,

post #2 of 13
Yep - 1 of the instructors doing training for exams at Falls Creek has just been told to shim his skis... Instant fix for the poor guys classic A frame of many years standing :

Even worse - when I asked why he didn't grind boots instead of shim binding - "That would cost about $200"

ummmm - but it is what he does for a LIVING????
post #3 of 13
Not a rant, but an excellent point! I don't have statistics off the top of my head, but a good # of orthopedic injuries that occur annually have nothing to do with ahtletics at all! People step off the curve the wrong way, fall down stairs, etc.
If balance was all that natural for everyone, this would not happen so frequently.

The problem with balance related issues, is the fact that ego can get in the way. Somebody can be incredibly fit, but their can be issues going on with their balance that present a road block to good skiing. Often, when confronted with this, they may go into "denial".

It takes a superior professional to figure out what the balance problem is, and explain in a diplomatic way how it is effecting the skiing.
Even more important, is to suggest options as to how to work to improve upon it.
post #4 of 13
Ydnar, right on! This is probably the most neglected area of ski training and also one of the most misunderstood. Reading "The Athletic Skier " should be a requirement for all trainers and I hope to God any examiners out there have an in depth knowledge of this subject. As far as the skiing public goes, it is hard to address alignment issues properly in a half day lesson. And if they are in rental equipment.....aaaaaaaugh! Anyway, the least we can do as instructors is to make our students aware of alignment as an issue that may be affecting their progress. Maybe we could get little buttons that say, " Have you checked your alignment today? " :
post #5 of 13
Ydnar, good point. I had to get to the level of D Team coaching before anyone noticed I had significant alignment issues. This person (Harald Harb) explained it to me, made some corrections and then did further adjustments on the snow. I am very grateful to Harald.
post #6 of 13
Maybe part of the certification requirement should be that everyone spends a day on skis that can be modified to put them out of alignment, both laterally and fore/aft?
post #7 of 13
You know, Miles, that's a great idea! For pre natal fitness certification, you need to perform certain exercises with a huge pillow tucked in your clothing, why not do something similar for ski instructors?
post #8 of 13
Tuck a pillow under our parkas? LisaMarie, I know many instructors who look pregnant without a prop.

Movement analysis training would help. Most trainers and instructors agree that we don't get much in this department. In a national survey of exam candidates done five years ago, the number one response to the question, "in what area of training do you feel most unprepared" (or something like that), was movement analysis. By a long shot.

Why do you suppose that five years later we still have no solid platform for movement analysis training? (Which begs the question, care to create one on EpicSki?)

Ydnar, I have worked with examiners who have identified alignment issues in candidates and helped to correct them during the exam. No one wants to fail a candidate for having equipment difficulties that have a simple fix; on the other hand, maybe some examiners feel instructors should know enough about equipment and alignment to come to exams on prepared skis and balanced in their boots. (I have seen candidates with edges falling off their skis. Now that's a good role model for the public! But the poor kid had no money and really wanted to teach skiing...)
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

There is no doubt that there are some great examiners out there but there are also some who are not so great. They conduct themselves and their exam/ clinics just as they have for the past twenty years. This is a level at which I think PSIA, at both the national and devisional level, should demand regular re-examination of the examiners. I don't know how it is in your area but here there is sometimes hints of an "old boys network" situation at the DECL level. Fortunately, it is in no was pervasive but it is still there.

And as to the examiners expecting canidates to know about alignment/equipment issues. How are they supposed to know it when they arn't trained in it. As Lucky pointed out above it is possible for someone to get to a very high level in the orginization and never have anyone point out a serious alignment issue.

Far to often what instructors are told is that if they suspect an alignment problem then they should refer the student to a bootfitter/alignment specialist. What a copout. Considering what a profound affect alignment has on my students performance and the assumption that the alignment man isn't an instructor I think that instructors need to be trained to have a better understanding of alignment to better advise their students. Also they need this understanding of alignment to deal with those students who have alignment issues but because they are in rental equipment for their yearly ski week vacation aren't going to get the alignment issue addressed. It might be that the whole lesson for that person might be addressed to their compensating for that and the instructor certainly shouldn't spend the lesson time trying to "correct " an alignment related "problem" using conventional drills and exercises. In this second case the time and money of the student is wasted.

post #10 of 13
Good thread, Ydnar! Alignment, and the limitations that poor alignment cause, is certainly a big issue, and one that has historically received probably the least emphasis, for many reasons. Until recently, even at the top (World Cup) levels, it was very much overlooked.

But that is changing. Alignment is still very much an art, and there is much disagreement. Still, in the Rocky Mountain Division of PSIA, all Education Staff members (examiners and clinicians) are now REQUIRED to receive a professional alignment assessment, and to have it signed off in our "Professional Development Portfolio." It's a job requirement! We have had Jim Lindsey (boot wizard for the US Ski Team, including Bode Miller) do a presentation for the Ed. Staff at our Fall Training for the past three seasons. And we offer a popular and highly-informative two-day boot alignment workshop among our regular clinic options. Our instructors (at least those who choose to get involved in PSIA) are becoming better aligned, and more skilled at recognizing alignment issues on the hill.

We also have an Ed. Staff skills re-verification program in the Rocky Mountain Division. On a continuous two-year cycle, we now re-evaluate the performance of every single exam skiing maneuver for every examiner and DCL. We finished the first two-year cycle last season, and as of this coming season, the results will be used to determine who staffs various events. We're taking this seriously here in the Rockies!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #11 of 13
What I forgot to mention in my post above was that I knew my foot/knee alignment was not normal, but didn't know how to fix it. I went to many different so called experts in the PNW and most of them gave me different "cures." Most of it was smoke and mirrors. Harald was the first person to explain what was happening and how to correct it. At that same Academy we had a presentation by W Witherall and David Evard which really got people interested in alignnment.

There is an article in The Professional Skier (fall 2002) that discusses alignment in nordic skiers, but still provides good info for alpine skiers.

There is a photo of Cris Kastner on the cover of that issue. Is it the camera angle that makes him look like he is back on his skis?
post #12 of 13
This is really interesting stuff and it's making me think!!!! Something I have to get more into. I have some basic understanding of alignment stuff, but am cautious about jumping straight to alignment to fix a skiing problem. I tend to tinker about, trying stuff, then I finally start testing the alignment thing. I'd sure love to learn more about it...I have collapsed arches, and am sure that's put something out of whack.

To get back to your other point though, about balance! I start with foot balance; it might be my PSIA training, or the memory of how that dramatically improved my skiing, or a combination of both. But just recently, I've been criticised for teaching too much balance stuff. The person concerned is very strong, very athletic, and has been a full cert for some years. How do you read that? Any suggestions?

I teach balance in a variety of ways...I don't teach the same movement (I have about 10, from memory), but choose one or two depending on the student, their level, the terrain, their stated goals and what I see in their skiing. It's just that, to me, getting them balanced on the outside ski and getting them to feel what it does is crucial to any subsequent improvement.
post #13 of 13
Alignment is all about balance. It's where the line of force from the center of mass hits the snow. It takes a lot more strength to balance if you're not in alignment.
I'm contiually learning of the different ways people "adapt" to misalignment. I'm also amazed at how many high level instructors and coaches still expect skiers to be able to "adapt".

[ September 17, 2002, 09:42 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
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