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Expressway to Professionalism?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
In many of the "state of the industry" threads on this forum, it has been mentioned that it is getting too easy for ski instructors to get either hired or certified.

My own observations, watching recreational skiers, is that many of them are not as good as they think they are, and are tackling terrain that is far beyond their abilities.

I was just reading a forum for fitness instructors. One young lady stated that she was new to teaching aerobics, and had a few questions. Fine.

But in another thread, she also mentioned that she was new to teaching Pilates, and asked a question about the breathing patterns that anyone who passed the most basic of the certifications should know the answer to. A newbie fitness instructor teaching Pilates is about as ridiculous as a newbie ski instructor leading a class down a black diamond bump run!
Pilates is perhaps the most subtle, complex technique out there these days!

In our haste to get teachers quickly certified, without truly going through the appropriate learning process, are we creating students, who are also looking for an expressway through the learning process?

If so, at what price?

[ May 17, 2002, 07:29 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #2 of 16
LisaMarie, not many people take lessons, and of those who do, not many take enough. It's that simple. Now granted, some lessons are more effective than others, but that doesn't affect the majority of skiers.
BTW when Ryan & I went to Mammoth a couple of weeks ago, the first thing I noticed was that a strong majority of skiers and snowboarders were very skilled. Even though the place was alot more crowded than I'm used to (weekend), I didn't feel like I was in danger. You might do well to treat yourself to some May skiing next year, as it seems like all the yahoos have given up for the season, and you can really enjoy skiing.
post #3 of 16
LM, this is why Nolo is so strong in her defense of the Level 3 cert.

Although it is correct, as Ott mentioned, that some level 1's and 2's can do better than some level 3's, for the most part, the level 3's are the people who have the background to teach pilates.

One of the unwritten awarenesses that is a classic among examiners is that, although you can sometimes offer a bit of "benefit of the doubt" to the levels 1 and 2, you hold the standard at Level 3. Level 3 is not an easy level to attain, nor will it be in the future.
post #4 of 16
I don't want to open a can of worms, however, how about level III vs. "full certs"?

My point is this. I know a few "full certs" who couldn't carve a turn if their life depended upon it. Their internal clocks stopped about the time Gustavo Theoni (sp?) hung up his Siderals.

Does mention of that ski date me?

P.S. For bonus points, does anyone know the whereabouts of Wayne Wong?
post #5 of 16
It's a bit like driving licences...you see these oldies tottering along in their VWs, plainly out of their depth on the road, but getting them re-tested isn't easy.
we had some level IIIs too, whose knowledge and skiing were dated; sometimes their skiing was downright poor.
Quite a few were quite open about wearing the pin, but hadn't paid PSIA a cent (or attended a clinic) in years.

Of course, it's also the ski school's responsibility to insist on proper standards in ALL its people. I had a D and M with a senior SS person before leaving the US and we discussed this, and they pointed out that these oldies my ski rubbish, but their schedule is chockablock with returners, so how do you persuade them to change anything?
post #6 of 16
I saw Wayne Wong at a charity pro/am ski race at Bretton Woods a couple of months ago. He was faster than anyone else and had dyed his hair green for the holiday.
post #7 of 16
Rusty -

Spaulding Siderals? I never had a pair. But I did once have a pair of Rossignol Roc 550's of about the same vintage!

- Tom(inator)
post #8 of 16
I competed against Wayne Wong in the first Chevy/Skiing Freestyle contest at Waterville Valley in 1971, or maybe 72. He has green hair. I have little hair. Life ain't fair.

Yeah, full certs that don't keep up are a pain, and there's no excuse for it. However I have no problem with them as they get older and some of the athleticism leaves their skiing IF they maintain passion and keep current. Many times, by that time, they have become true craftsmen, and make enormous contributions. Toni Sponar in Snowmass is nearly 70, and he is a wonderful craftsman. He still skis damn well, but he is a master teacher. Should he keep his cert status? You damn betcha! However, it's a tough problem with some of the others occasionally. Our response has been a pull rather than a push, and it works pretty well. We offer lots of training, and we offer lots of respect. Most of the old timers are proud to be included and listened to. It is wonderful in the locker room to see a wide-eyed rookie listening to the stories of the old Norgies who taught for Stein. It's a nice mix.

We have a 75 year old at Buttermilk who informed me that, now that he has a new hip, he will be on the staff for another 15 years. He's wonderful, and brings in all his own business that he picks up on the hill. He also picks up and masters every damn new thing that we try. His skiing, is high performance/slow speed for safety. Will I ever diss his contribution? Not a chance.

(However, somebody please shoot me if I hang around too long!)
post #9 of 16
We are having a history lesson!

I competed against Wayne and that crowd, just before the PFA folded in '74. The last I heard of him, he was still hanging out in Canada, doing the celeb tour.

But as far as re-certifying? Let's use our own Weems as an example.
A few years back, a push was made in RM for all examiners to "re-certify". To the best of my knowledge, only Annie Savath and Weems ever took that to heart and did it. No holds were barred in the evaluation of these two, and again, if my recollection is accurate, Weems was almost the strongest candidate in his group! (Accurate, Weems?)

At the "full cert" or Lvl3 standard, I agree with Weems that skills and knowledge should be kept contemporary. We attempt to encourage this by requiring that so many clinics be attended every couple of years. But as has been pointed out, there are many who do not make the attempt to remain current. They would rather rest on their laurels.

Do these non-contemporaries generate income, as has been suggested by Ant? Of course they do! And so would you if you had been doing it as long as they. But that does not imply the guest is getting the best possible lesson. Many are the times I have seen older, experienced instructors teaching stuff that has been out of date for 20 years, and the guest is eating it up because they don't know any better!

But how about we take this a step further! Time to stir the pot a little!

Should we ask that all examiners re-qualify for their positions every couple of years? To be quite honest- I have also seen many advanced educators (what we call them in RM) who can no longer "walk the talk". Their skiing skills have not been maintained and they continue to self-interpret manuevers and standards, in spite of agreeing to what the manuevers and standards should be.

Can such a re-evaluation be effective when the "good ole boy network" exists?

Maybe these questions are a bit off track for this thread, so I'll start it up as a new one.

post #10 of 16

You just described an exam for the examiners. Who gives the exam for the examiners of the examiners? God? (Just kidding: I'm sure RM would get Weems and Annie.)

You also just described a cultural phenomenon: resting on laurels. Our culture says that once you achieve L3, you only have to attend clinics every other year. That's a pretty light schedule. On top of this, many L3s don't do elective ski school training. It's beneath them, don't you know.

I think our culture, which has L3 as the decisive measure, encourages SPLD (smart person's learning disability) the same as MBA programs do, as if along with the certificate came everything you will ever need to know.
post #11 of 16
Absolutely! The stock phrase is "Level 3 is a license to learn". I might guess that for awhile thats true to almost every new Lvl 3. But after awhile, many phase out of the "learning" dimension, into a "complacent" one. And afterwards, it's just the status quo.

Is it coincidence that it seems those whose learning curve has flattened, are the ones most likely to bitch and moan about everything from pay, to work conditions, to priority/ seniority systems, etc?

As for who should evaluate examiners? How about the 15 chosen ones, the annointed. The US DEMO TEAM! (Joking!) But I am serious that they represent(?) the finest our organization has to offer. They might be the impartial and objective group needed to perform this very important task!

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Is it coincidence that it seems those whose learning curve has flattened, are the ones most likely to bitch and moan about everything from pay, to work conditions, to priority/ seniority systems, etc?

No coincidence, it happens in my industry to!
post #13 of 16
I am eternally grateful for "older guys"...I competed in '75 and '76 against Wayne's younger brother Mark! Actually, I just saw Wayne at the PSIA W Convention in Mount Rose. He is teaching somewhere in Tahoe but my now aged mind won't remind me where! Wayne is a Mt. Seymour (N.Van) boy...inspired me to get my CSIA I in '74 at 16...so now you can do the math.
I remember talking to Annie as she was "re-certing"...she was as anxious and empathetic as Weems described! For such a talent, her experience may have caused her to give up examining later. In February she said to me she felt she "no longer felt comfortable sitting in judgement of others"
post #14 of 16
For one who has self extracted himself from teaching skiing 17 years ago, not because of lack of knowledge in teaching and skiing, but because I couldn't keep a schedule anymore since my other job had me working anytime anywhere, I would like to say that from what I see, if instead of workshop/clinics, certified instructors had to re-certify to new higher standards, ski schools would have to make do with half the instructors they have now.

What then? ...Ott
post #15 of 16
I think you're right, Ott. We don't want to chase our people away. That's why these efforts to up-train have to be compelling, interesting, relevant, and fun. This is definitely a pull first, then push, issue. And it takes the right kind of training staff and supportive peer behaviors to make it work.

I'm really proud of how far our pros in Aspen have progressed in this. There is little apathy about what the other guy is doing, and lots of encouragement and opportunity and reward for everyone to improve.

Again, it's about craftsmanship, and craftsmen and craftswomen (is that a word yet?) don't stop learning.
post #16 of 16
About Annie Vareille
Originally posted by Robin:
In February she said to me she felt she "no longer felt comfortable sitting in judgement of others"
That's why she was such a good examiner. She always felt that way.
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