The key reason I decided to work and teach skiing at Alpine Meadows this season was to improve my own skiing. Along the way, the ski instructor trainers here at Alpine have been encouraging me to pursue certification from the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA).
Unlike the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA), the PSIA is seperated into regional divisions for training and administration. PSIA Certification has three levels: Level 1, 2, and 3 that roughly corresponds to the students' skill level of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The AMGA encourages its ski guides to ski equivalent to a PSIA Certified Level 2 or 3 Instructor. When I first heard this, I wondered - what the hell does a PSIA Level 3 Instructor ski like? What's Level 3?
Level 1 has three different methods. First, a candidate with no teaching experience can take a 6-day clinic that finishes with day-long exam. Second, a new ski instructor can take a 3-day clinic that also finishes with a examination. The third method, that I followed, is intended for experienced ski instructors and referred to sometimes as a validation instead of an examination. It consists of a checklist of skills to have signed off by a Trainer, followed up with a one day exam. The exams consist of demonstrating certain specific ski skills, performing an analysis of someone's skiing, and mock-teaching a group or single student a certain skill or progressions. Each level is exponentially more difficult then the previous, and Level 2/3 exams are actually divided into a 3-day skiing exam and a 2-day teaching exam that are passed separately.
The bosses at Alpine Meadows Ski School have done an awesome job at training its instructors and encouraging us, then getting an examiner from outside - to provide objectivity - to come and provide two opportunities in a week to take the 1-day Level I exam. A special thanks to Chris, Darrin, Leigh, and Ange for pushing and supporting us.
Bud came over from his day job at Northstar to examine Chris, Mia, Elisia, Maria, Cam, and myself. We spent the morning demonstrating a gliding wedge, wedge turns, wedge christie turns, and beginning parallel turns before stopping for an early lunch. In the afternoon we picked out skiers moving past us and analyzed their movements out loud. Then each of us taught a short progression of a skill - mine was teaching wedge christie turns - to the group.
At the end of the day, Bud announced to the group that we had all passed, and were officially Level I Instructors. Hopefully this means we'll see a little more income in these last few weeks. But more importantly to me is that I'm now cleared to take my Level 2 examinations in April. Certifications are usually limited to one per season, but I was able to petition and be approved to take both of my exams this year. Stay tuned!