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Do Ski Patrol skiing tests favor PSIA or PMTS

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I am impressed with the friendship shown in the Monumental Summit thread. Hope to ski one day with all of you!

If PMTS does not teach wedge except for slow lift lines, do these skiers have a disadvantage when it comes to taking a ski patrol skiing test? Are they taught the wedge by Patrol? Do they adapt to the opposing edges after having known only parallel?

Pivot slips are used all the time in the East to remove the snow build-up in front of the skiis (with a tobaggon).

I think a good skier having knowledge of the basics (balance, rotary movements, edging, pressure)should be able to perform any magic with their skiis. In another thread, the 3 Steps, Bob mentions that there is not one way to teach/ski.

I'm just curious about a final product-ski patrol-and which school seems to fit better.

I know I've pushed some buttons here.

A story- when I first tried shaped skiis, I was practicing a tobaggon run. Because I was not completely centered, I kept sliding back and forth, giving the "patient" a tough ride. The smaller length of edges had me struggling to maintain a slow side slip. I have improved since that first time, and breezed through my Senior at Okemo a few year back.

So...when I came through the "system" learning how to ski, obviously my balance and edging "envelope of experience" wasn't as wide as it should have been.

Which school gives the most experience off of "Center Line"?

I know I have now asked two questions. Sorry.

Happy Turkey everyone!
post #2 of 33
Most of the patrol sled practice I've watched in recent years has involved sideslipping more than wedge use for speed control. I'd think that sideslipping would be much less tiring than wedging except for brief application on flat terrain when you've been straight-running with the toboggan.

I wouldn't think sideslipping would be any more prevalent in one instructional approach than in another. Sideslipping is such a valuable exercise for learning edge control and balancing that it should be a part of any ski skills development plan. It was a significant part of the first PSIA clinic I attended more than 30 years ago, as well as of the French-based ski school's progression I first taught under shortly thereafter.
post #3 of 33
When I was a ski patrol candidate (1992?) and from what I've seen of candidates training at my area, you do more wedge practice than anything else. Straight down double diamonds, through moguls, everywhere.
post #4 of 33

There is a very important distinction that needs to be made here. It seems that patrollers primarily need/use a braking wedge to help control a sled. PSIA promotes and uses a gliding wedge. Very useful for developing skiing sills, but almost worthless for slowing down a heavy sled. You do say that PMTS teaches a wedge, but only to slow down in lift lines - by definition a braking wedge.

The patrollers developing their sled control skills may prefer to use the braking wedge and those developing their free skiing would almost certainly choose the gliding wedge .

post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
Good comments. This is what I was looking for.

Now how about the idea of a pivot slideslip?
post #6 of 33

Thanks. With regard to pivot-sideslips, I agree with Kneale - it is far more efficient and effective than a braking wedge. It can also provide some directional control (think falling-leaf exercise). The problem of course is that pivot-sideslips are more difficult than a braking wedge and should be mastered before attaching a heavy sled.

post #7 of 33
From my Ski Patrol experience,I agree with Kneale: wedging with a sled is best done on the flats.

BG recalls using the wedge with a rig on double blacks and through moguls. This practice can be a hazzard to your knees. Sideslipping your rig down steeps and through moguls is the preferred speed control method.

Pivot slips work well for direction changes with a rig, as well as for shedding snow. Side slips with a falling leaf also work great for snow shedding. [img]smile.gif[/img]


Snow Toad
post #8 of 33
Snow Toad

Welcome to Epicski.
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Sounds good, but now back to my original question. If you learned to ski through one of the main schools, PSIA/PMTS, which school will better prepare you?

I thought of this after the Monumental Summit and the task of pivot slips were mentioned. :
post #10 of 33
There's this apocrophal story of a ski patroller at Holiday Valley. He got together with some "cyber friends" at Mount Snow, a group of ski instructors and advanced skiers , and made them ski an entire Black Diamond in a wedge. He was the only one who could do it!
Not sure how much of the story is true.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 23, 2001 05:23 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #11 of 33
Thread Starter 
Could be true. Part of the training is to do a wedge forever. The only thing it does is build stamina. Had to do my share to show my Patrol Leader that I was ready for the Senior test.
Does nothing for ski technique.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 23, 2001 03:59 PM: Message edited 1 time, by KeeTov ]</font>
post #12 of 33
Keetov--I think that the reason you're not getting the answer you're looking for is that question itself may be flawed. Remember that neither PSIA nor PMTS are "schools." They are only programs that offer training to instructors. There is an enormous amount of overlap with them too. Many instructors have both PMTS and PSIA training and some are certified in both. Indeed, I believe that the majority of PMTS certified instructors also have some level of PSIA certification.

So the issue is really not whether PMTS or PSIA will provide more applicable training for ski patrolling. It comes down to the individual instructor. In any case, the more broad-based training and experience an instructor has, from whatever source, the more likely you will receive the lesson you desire.

In fact the only instructor who I believe would NOT give a satisfactory lesson is one who is tied to any dogmatic approach, whether perceived or real! In other words, if an instructor answers your question with the absolute opinion that either PSIA OR PMTS has THE "right" answer, I'd stay far away! The individual instructor who can draw purposefully and effectively from the biggest "bag of tricks" will be the one to go with.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 33
Mental note:
Look up apocrophyl.
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the answer. As always, the more knowledge one has, the easier it is to relate to others.
post #15 of 33
KeeTov- I patrolled in Canada and am now teaching in the USA. If it gets steep enough to need a great deal of speed control, two patrollers and a rope are needed. I think a wedge and a sled are a great way to tear up one's knees.
post #16 of 33
Patrols train their candidates. Therefore you will most certainly be taught to use a “braking” wedge during your training. Usually the candidate patroller training consists of sideslipping, wedge turns, falling leaf, hockey stops, kick turns, traverse, traverse with a forward sideslip, and sideslip change up (sideslip to a wedge to a side slip. Of course you are required to be proficient in both directions. These skills are directed towards toboggan skills. For skiing skills the requirements normally are, for patroller candidates, short, medium, and long radius turns, equipment carry, and controlled free skiing in a corridor. For senior level patrollers crud and bumps are thrown in. Candidate patrollers are required to have proficiency on the steepest slope at their home area in a safe controlled ski or toboggan run. Seniors patrollers are required to be proficient on PSIA level III type terrain which should be the steepest most difficult in the division. Seniors equate to a reasonably proficient skier and very strong with a toboggan at any area in the division, which may encompass about 5-6 states. Candidate patrollers will normally equate to a fairly strong intermediate at their home area. There is a certified level patroller that is the best of the best in all phases of patrolling including first aid. The candidate training and exams belong to the ski area. The Senior program belongs to the divisions. The bottom line PSIA, PMTS, or AASIA may have some influence but are not normally considered “the program”. Over the last several years in an effort to give better educational support to the patrol trainer the national office along with divisional offices are recommending trainers become at least Level I PSIA/AASIA. The divisions have or are establishing division wide snow instructor schools. Most trainers I know are Level I PSIA and are becoming Level II PSIA/AASIA. Level III would be difficult but not impossible unless you actually teach the skiing public. While skiing is a very big key to Level III the teaching aspect is also a big key and you really need to teach a lot to become proficient. I hope this answers your questions.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
I agree about 2 patrollers.

What started this thread was the thought on my part(later proved incorrect by Bob), that which "system", PSIA or PMTS (centerline, skills, tasks, progressions) would favor skills needed to make a good patroller.

It has been pointed out that these schools only give tools, and it is the instructor that gives the variety of skills needed.

It is interesting that Patrollers will practice the wedge forever to build up stamina. Has anyone found another way to build stamina?
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Good review of what a patroller needs to do. You're right, it is the patrol that trains the candidate, not any instructor organization.

I guess it is like racing. Coaches teach the specific skills needed to run gates, the regular customer doesn't need to know those skills.

Again, good review for the non-patrollers showing them what we have to do to make the run in the tobaggon smooth and safe.
post #19 of 33
Getting back to the original question, "which school seems to fit better" for ski patrol preparation, PSIA or PMTS?

From my ski patrol experience and from my teaching experience with a PSIA "school", I would say that the PSIA school is a great fit.

Although I am not familiar with the PMTS system, some of the remarks on this forum from folks who I think may be from the PMTS "school", give me some problems. For example, I heard several times , I think from the PMTS guys (please correct me if I am wrong about the source), that wedging only belongs in lift lines. If this is a fundamental attitude in the PMTS "school", then my strong answer to the original question is that PSIA would provide a far better preparation for ski patroling than PMTS.

Of course I also agree with Bob Barnes, that the best individual instructor, with the least amount of dogma baggage would be the best resource, regardless of school.

Another comment: I love Bob Barnes's advise about taking a "slow line fast", rather than a "fast line slow". I absolutely LOVE that mind set. However, when hauling a tobboggan down a black run, it is far safer to take a "fast line slow". The more brakes the better, from side slipping, not wedging. If more brakes are needed, tail ropers are used.

One interesting incident happened at my mountain when a patroller took the "slow line" on a black run. He was traversing across a steep pitch using great edge skills. Unfortunately, the toboggan lacked the same edge skills. The rear sled fins releasd from the snow, and the rig, with patient aboard went flying down the hill backwards. The patient's "possible" ACL turned into a "definite" ACL, and a dislocated shoulder and face lacerations were added as a bonus.

One final comment: If a ski patrol candidate is basically a strong skier who can cover all the terrain at his or her mountain comfortably, then I would say that skiing may not be the most important area to work on. I expect that the hiring patrol director would appreciate other skills such as medical training, rock climbing (for lift evacs), and snow saftey skills as much as his/ her skiing skills which will be well developed during patrol training. (although I must add that far too many ski patrolers are willing to take lessons from ski instructors, and it sure shows in their free skiing!)

Take care,

Snow Toad [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #20 of 33
Far too MANY patrollers take lessons, ST--or far too few? I suspect a typo--please correct me if I'm wrong!

I will add that I have had the privilege of skiing with many patrollers (not enough) in a lesson/clinic situation. One thing they are almost universally great at is sideslipping and pivot slips. Here, they excel as a group above any random group of ski instructors I've seen!

I also know that the patrollers' skiing exam goes well beyond the requirement for functional skiing with a loaded rig down most runs (which--you're right ST--usually involves skiing the "fast line slow"). They are after efficient, contemporary skiing skills that allow them to look good on the way to the wreck too.

Of course, again, none of this speaks against or in favor of any instructor organization--unless it limits its instructors from teaching the broad variety of movement patterns that patrollers really do need.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #21 of 33
[quote]Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
[QB]Far too MANY patrollers take lessons, ST--or far too few? I suspect a typo--


Thanks for correcting my typo. Just checking to see if you were alert!

It would be great if more patrolers would take lessons. Patrolers can learn a lot from instructors, and vice versa (like preparing us for those days when we help with sweep, lift evacs,"educating" wannabee racers blasting down slow trails, etc.) Note that I do not include rig running in the casual cross training category. Best join a patrol for a season before taking a buddy for a sleigh ride over the river, through the woods, and down the blacks!

Take care,

Snow Toad
post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
I like the awareness people have of the special skills needed to not only provide a smooth ride for the injuried patient, but also the skills needed to get there! Some of the patients are so far off piste, maybe they should be left there(only kidding).

Keep in mind, whatever and wherever a skier can get into, a patroller has to be able to get them out.

Bob has pointed out already, it is the variety of skills learned from everyone that makes the good patroller. It does not come out of one "system".
post #23 of 33
Just a general question but you probably have more knowledge on this that I would. In a pivot slip at some point in time you have both skis pointed straight downhill, no edge control, and 300 lbs. or so behind you. Wouldn’t a sideslip transition be safer? As described a sideslip transition is where you go from a sideslip one-direction pivot both skis into a fall line wedge for a brief instant to gain solid control and then pivot both skis to a sideslip in the opposite direction. Note that you always edge control. :
post #24 of 33
Here's to the patrollers.

You guys do a great job and I appreciate your work. Many thanks cuz I know you ain't doing it for the money.

post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 
taking a fast line slow is key. planning ahead is important. hopefully with the planning ahead, rarely would you need to change the direction you are facing on the steeps.

you also have a tail rope. they change direction(facing the same direction you are)either a few moments after you, to control any sudden burst of speed, or at the same time as you if the slope is moderate.

you mention transition into a wedge. important skill and yes we do need to be in a wedge on the steepest of steeps during such a transition. hopefully planning ahead, you won't have to change direction.

a neat drill to practice rotational movement is to ski in a lane the width of your skiis. go from a wedge straight down, to a wedge facing the woods. your bottom ski is really doing a sideslip, but your are in an oppossing edge wedge. staying in the lane, rotate your skiis so now the other ski is doing the sideslip, but you are still in a wedge. I don't know if I explained it right, but give it a try to appreciate the special skills patrollers have. This is a braking wedge, so you really are on edges!

Thank a patroller. they keep the slopes open. this past weekend, a crew spent an hour shoveling enough snow to get a slope open for a ski instructors clinic. we offered to help, but they said no thanks. great guys and gals!
post #26 of 33
I like the planning ahead part of the previous post, REAL important before Patrol gets on the hill as well as on line in transit.

Patrollers need TECHNICAL training, as far as the Ski is concerned.

Can they hold an edge?
Can they set up an anchor in deep snow?
Sled work is important as illistrated here for both their own personal saftey, their teams saftey as well as the passengers.

Checks on steep, in corn on ice?
Z turns or STEEP traverse and directional changes. Sideslipping and pivot slips I think are now manditory.

I am under the impression that PSIA and the patrol are sharing a number of ideas and clinics. Also it woiuld be a good idea I feel for the sport and for the patrol IF ALL of these groups were under one roof. As in lets say The American Federation of Snow Sports Professionals.

Patrollers should be given Winter Survival Training. Nothing like looking Hypothermia in the eye to know what is going on in that littel head when things get LOONEY.

Back country trail wisdom as well as wilderness skills should be part of it also. This is to include Mountaineering which will hopefuly give them a bit more knowlege of rigging and snow saftey. (slope loads as well as TREE loads)

THis is very near and dear to what we really should have as an intigrated Snow Sports Professional Program. Frankly, the Forset Service would LOVE for us to put something like this togeather and get them out of it!

Just a few thoughts ....!
(yes I am wearing one of those smiles that a Shark has while swimming amongst the other reef fish)
post #27 of 33
Dr. Go,

The NSP incorporates all of the stuff you mentioned into its training now.

I did my senior ski & toboggan last year, at all of the clinics there was a psia level III instructor as part of the trainers group.

One of the skills you need to show for both basic and senior patroller is the transition, going from a wedge to a sideslip and back, without losing a braking edge. We are tested on these like KeeTov described-a lane of gates about ski length apart is set up down the fall line-you have to transition from a wedge to a sideslip and back in both directions without losing a braking edge.
post #28 of 33
So BG,

You have been Backcountry?

Danced with the Devil have you?

So many times I have had some one some where tell me that this is extreem. They may work on a small hill in MI or even an area like Eldora. We don't have to get out there and experience HYPOTHERMIA, our skiers are not out in the WINDERNESS...
Then they come upon some little guy or gal that has been skiing all day with MOM or DAD in a little hooded sweatshirt, fell and broke a leg (spiral), hmmmm.

You are right DG, it takes many years to really understand all of this stuff. We need seniors, we need training, we need people like you that sitck it out and make an effort to get the KNOWLEGE which becomes the WISDOM that others will need and seek.

I again belive that PSIA and COMPANY can move this farther out and up by taking on MORE of the sport.

Keep going.
post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 
Patrollers can attend a 2 day intro course on avalanche recognition with beacon work, and/or a 2 day mountain travel course involving map work and search and rescue. In the S and R section, we had to search cross country for one mile in teams of 4. Total of 8 teams. We were each given a compass heading. After a mile, we found ourselves on a road. There were signposts made with each team number on it, showing us where we should have come out...if we held a correct search on our compass heading. The closet team was 50 feet off. We then discussed the size area that we did NOT search because we oops made a mistake. Back to practicing some more!

After that there is a 5 day course in each of these disciplines. I attended all 4 courses a few years back. My 5 day courses were at Tuckerman's Ravine, NH. For the Mt. Rescue, we hiked in at night in teams of 4. Using maps, we had to get approval from the course conductor before pitching tents. Next morning-we were in a safe area between two slide paths. Done on purpose to show importance of map work. Quite an eye opener.

Rope work, ice axe, improvisation for packageing and transporting a patient.

Many cross country patrols do this on a daily basis. If you have a chance to read this issue of Ski Patrol, there is a nice article about cross country/backcountry patrols.

Remember, what you can get yourself into, a patroller is trained to get to you, and get you out!!

Ski Patrol and PSIA are in the same building in Colorado, and the last time I looked, had the same Executive.

Many large areas and/or serious patrollers take additional search and rescue work, rope work, wilderness medical training.

I ended up on a Cave Rescue Team.
post #30 of 33
Man, I can't agree enough about the comment that more patrollers could benefit from lessons. My wife and I broke down and did a couple of private lessons last year and it was a big help. My legs were in much better form at the end of the day.

I'm testing for senior this spring - one of the changes our patrol is doing for prepping us is more attention to skiing and toboggan handling.
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