What are the new certification standards in PSIA?

Rod9301

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Jan 11, 2016
Posts
1,625
I must be spoiled. The majority of L3's I know are very solid instructors. Sure, there are some legacy folks what aren't really current and I can't really say, "go skiing with that guy/gal!", but they don't color my overall perception of the world.
You're right, l3s are solid, but not so the 1s and 2s, and i think the beginners deserve good instruction also
 

BC.

NEPA ShopRat/Skier
Skier
Joined
Aug 27, 2017
Posts
1,347
Location
Lake Wallenpaupack, PA
You're right, l3s are solid, but not so the 1s and 2s, and i think the beginners deserve good instruction also
Didn’t a current L3 or higher have to have started as a L1 or L2 at one point in their career? Everybody has to start somewhere…..without L1 and L2’s, you probably wouldn’t have a ski school.

Does a beginning skier really need the technical expertise/advice of a L3 instructor?
 

jimtransition

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 15, 2016
Posts
280
Location
Niseko/Portillo
No, they have to pass the eurotest and it's pretty tough

So yeah, in the us they should pay more than minimum wage and then they would get more qualified instructors.
Just so you know, I am European, have worked all over the world for about 30 seasons and have a variety of qualifications, including the eurotest. Have you worked in Europe? Which countries? Passed the eurotest?

I am sure US resorts understand that, and I agree, but obviously they prefer making more money and employing hobbyists/part timers than paying professional instructors and making less.
 

dbostedo

Asst. Gathermeister
Moderator
Joined
Feb 9, 2016
Posts
9,380
Location
Nor. Virginia, USA
That’s an awfully broad brush you are painting with.
I agree with that. I've had good (intermediate level) instruction from a couple of L2's. I'd think caring and instruction ability are more important than the level. Being an L3 can certainly show some proof that you've attained a certain level of proficiency and you're more likely to get good instruction. But all of those L3 instructors were 1's and 2's at some point, and likely good instructors at those levels too.
 

jimmy

Mixmaster
Moderator
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
560
Location
West Virginia
Thank you @dbostedo i am L2 for four years and I guarantee I am extremely competent at what I am expected to do. This thread started about new standards. Seems to me the psia’s verbiage changes from time to time but the mission is the same. I teach parallel skiing, beginners, novice, intermediate does not matter the progression is the same. I bust the wedge.
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
Industry Insider
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,947
Location
PNW aka SEA
You're right, l3s are solid, but not so the 1s and 2s, and i think the beginners deserve good instruction also
Yeah... no. The notion that one has to be an L3 or higher to be a good, solid, fun, memorable instructor is also myopic in my opinion. I know some excellent L1's and L2's that I've happily sent my son out with, and he's not even a beginner.
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
Industry Insider
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,947
Location
PNW aka SEA
I agree with that. I've had good (intermediate level) instruction from a couple of L2's. I'd think caring and instruction ability are more important than the level. Being an L3 can certainly show some proof that you've attained a certain level of proficiency and you're more likely to get good instruction. But all of those L3 instructors were 1's and 2's at some point, and likely good instructors at those levels too.
Yup.... this in spades.
 

Ken_R

Living the Dream
Skier
Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Posts
4,871
Location
Denver, CO
Ski schools are probably 70 - 80% staffed by kids Living The Dream. They have limited interest in really progressing / becoming students of the sport. If they show up to work, reasonably on time, have OK personal hygiene, and treat guests OK, they are hired.

Expecting everyone to be an L3, and you have crushed most of your labor market. Do guests always receive an outstanding user experience with the burn-outs? No. However with ski areas controlling a monopoly on the sport - especially instruction - it is what it is.
This ^^^

pretty much ski instruction in a nutshell, at least in the US.
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
Industry Insider
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,947
Location
PNW aka SEA
We all speak in the bubble of our experiences as if they were universal. In the PNW, most instructors are part timers with professions in other fields. Some of the young people 'living the dream' ive worked with have gone on to do stints in the Peace Corp, gone back to law or med school, are now full time climbing guides, and some are full time teaching and coaching in places like JH where they've become fixtures. Some of you may have even been coached by them at the steep and deep and freeride camps. A couple have moved permanently to NZ, and another to Isreal. One is currently doing the PCT. Everyone finds their path both literally and figuratively. Most were very solid instructors even if they started with little experience. I just get tired of the suggestion that young instructor are somehow just barely there.
 
Last edited:

Bad Bob

old n' slow
Skier
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
3,548
Location
out smelling the daisies
PSIA provides a tent (system) that we teach.
The Instructors are the framework that holds up and supports the PSIA tent. We come with enormously varied backgrounds and communication skill sets.
The ski school directors and trainers are the stakes that keep everything tight and in place.

Pretty dubious that this system is any better, or worse, than other national systems. It is what works in the North American environment (Canada really doesn't seem that much different other than having an L4) and that is what counts. Are gap year European instructors really that much better than a NA college student or weekend warrior; would doubt it. Are top level Euro instructors that much better than NA L3's and 4's; doubt that also. The 80/20 rule seems to apply to our systems too, the top 20% possess 80% of the knowledge; real pros know their trade.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
1,423
I just get tired of the suggestion that young instructor are somehow just barely there.
I can agree that there are some dedicated young people out there with great work ethics. However after 5 or 10 years, in any domain from entrepreneurship to skiing, you don't have real insight.

IMHO, after about 20 years you really start to "get it". You can boil any lesson, or action, down to its most elegant form, and communicate it in very few words, in a way that people understand. And IME, it doesn't matter if you are sending one of your employees on a high-consequence international trip, or honing someone's efficiency on skis.

IMHO, after about 30 - 40 year, and accompanied by superb mentorship, you really start to peel the layers back. However that its dependent on the subject being in a place where they are a beginner, and not a master. Once your mindset is that yiou have mastered your domain, learning stops.

I love this graph by Ron Kipp. Very few hit the Plateau of Productivity, in any domain.

Screen Shot 2021-07-23 at 11.57.43 AM.png
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
Industry Insider
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,947
Location
PNW aka SEA
I guess I'm not understanding what you're saying and how it applies to the discussion. I'm hearing that without more than 10 years experience, no insight is possible or at best limited. Last season was my 10th in PSIA. By that measure, nothing I say holds weight or water. Maybe year 11 will be different? What that 10 year pin doesn't tell you is all of the other life experiences along the way that greatly accelerates the learning curve. It also fails to give any weight to the influence or benefit on a younger person's life that teaching skiing for a few seasons (or anything for that matter) might have on their broader experience sets that can be applied to different fields when they move on. Thankfully, I've been blessed with great people in my ski orbit. Young, old, in between.... if I only had comments here to go by, I'd move on to a different sport or activity.
 

4ster

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,687
Location
Sierra & Wasatch
Years are pretty meaningless without days & hours but all those days & hours may be of limited value without the desire to continually develop & improve.

Knowledge is most valuable when it is accompanied by experience (& that should include all life experience)
What that 10 year pin doesn't tell you is all of the other life experiences along the way that greatly accelerates the learning curve.
 

martyg

Out on the slopes
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 24, 2017
Posts
1,423
I guess I'm not understanding what you're saying and how it applies to the discussion. I'm hearing that without more than 10 years experience, no insight is possible or at best limited. Last season was my 10th in PSIA. By that measure, nothing I say holds weight or water. Maybe year 11 will be different? What that 10 year pin doesn't tell you is all of the other life experiences along the way that greatly accelerates the learning curve. It also fails to give any weight to the influence or benefit on a younger person's life that teaching skiing for a few seasons (or anything for that matter) might have on their broader experience sets that can be applied to different fields when they move on. Thankfully, I've been blessed with great people in my ski orbit. Young, old, in between.... if I only had comments here to go by, I'd move on to a different sport or activity.
Well, speaking about paddling, which is where I am most highly credentialed: Trained under several national team coaches, one of my former training partners won a gold in the Olympics, PSIA D-Team level in WW kayak, certified high-level instructor in virtually ever other discpline, guided on big, scary remote rivers in dark corners of the world (and on very, very choice US rivers).

I guess that I have been paddling / instructing / coaching at a high level now for 45 years? Maybe 5 years ago I unlocked what I thought was the last piece of essential information - the genesis piece that everyone needs to embrace to be better in that domain. But I still learn every day. And I suspcet that I will discover more genesis pieces as the years go by, or refine the existing ones.

With ski instruction I have been at it maybe 30 years. I have never had national team training in ski. Although I have sponsored various national teams, athletes, etc. and had access to their mentorship.

I guess for me it is more of a journey. You learn every day, if you keep your mind open. I know one industry veteran, in his 70's - former national team member, ran Vail ./ Beaver Creek Ski School for a decade +, contract product developer in skis and boots for 30+ years, and he continues to learn everyday. He moves like silk in the wind on skis. He is my muse.
 

HardDaysNight

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Posts
891
Location
Park City, UT
Ski instruction isn’t a mysterious calling. As @markojp points out there are some talented young guys who ski and teach really well even if they don’t have years of experience. There are many more who have no clue and no interest beyond keeping their jobs for a year or two. These do not move like silk in the wind on skis! If I were employing young instructors I’d pick kids with a race background. They’re used to the process of both giving and receiving instruction.
 

4ster

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should!
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,687
Location
Sierra & Wasatch
If I were employing young instructors I’d pick kids with a race background. They’re used to the process of both giving and receiving instruction.
As someone who spent a good part of their career hiring & employing instructors this is a definite plus but only a piece of the criteria necessary to meet the qualifications required for most new hire positions.
 

markojp

mtn rep for the gear on my feet
Industry Insider
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,947
Location
PNW aka SEA
Well, speaking about paddling, which is where I am most highly credentialed: Trained under several national team coaches, one of my former training partners won a gold in the Olympics, PSIA D-Team level in WW kayak, certified high-level instructor in virtually ever other discpline, guided on big, scary remote rivers in dark corners of the world (and on very, very choice US rivers).

I guess that I have been paddling / instructing / coaching at a high level now for 45 years? Maybe 5 years ago I unlocked what I thought was the last piece of essential information - the genesis piece that everyone needs to embrace to be better in that domain. But I still learn every day. And I suspcet that I will discover more genesis pieces as the years go by, or refine the existing ones.

With ski instruction I have been at it maybe 30 years. I have never had national team training in ski. Although I have sponsored various national teams, athletes, etc. and had access to their mentorship.

I guess for me it is more of a journey. You learn every day, if you keep your mind open. I know one industry veteran, in his 70's - former national team member, ran Vail ./ Beaver Creek Ski School for a decade +, contract product developer in skis and boots for 30+ years, and he continues to learn everyday. He moves like silk in the wind on skis. He is my muse.
The best continue to learn. No doubt about that in any field.
 

LiquidFeet

lurking
Instructor
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
4,822
Location
New England
Sounds like the differences in this discussion have to do with whether the talk is about being a good instructor or about being a master instructor. Innovative, smart, determined rookies can do a good job teaching skiing, but they won't be masters at it.

Masters will rarely miss the target, and when they do they will be able to figure out why and not repeat their miscalculation. Rookies will hit the target some, but less often than masters, and when they miss they probably won't be able to figure out why.

I remember being a rookie. It wasn't that long ago. I hang my head in shame at some of the stuff I taught back then. But I taught some great lessons, and learned along the way. It bugs me when people say rookie instructors should not be given work since they are not masters of teaching. Or that only LIIIs should be allowed to teach.
 
Last edited:
Thread Starter
TS
Mike King

Mike King

AKA Habacomike
Instructor
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Posts
3,124
Location
Louisville CO/Aspen Snowmass
There are all sorts of reasons clients hire a ski instructor. Not all of them are solely about learning. It takes all sorts of instructors to meet the desires and expectations of clients. Our clients are people, and matching instructors to clients is an art form and part of what differentiates the best ski schools from the rest.

I suspect this is part of the reason PSIA is currently focusing on people skills. People skills are not the technical aspects of skiing. They are about forming a connection with your clients.

Some of our (Aspen's) most successful ski instructors (measured by the number of hours booked via private request) are not our most proficient skiers, or even our most accomplished coaches. Instead, they are the folk who have formed personal relationships with their guests.

We also have a number of very highly skilled ski instructors, as measured by demo team membership in their organization or participation on the World Cup or being trainers in the ski school, who have to be fed by the desk more than what would appear to be less accomplished instructors. Who do you think is creating more of an experience for their guests?

All this goes to say that there is more to the job that technical prowess. It takes a community to serve a community. That demo team member is not a match for some, maybe most, of our clients. That 18yo gap student isn't a match for others. But putting those folk in with the right clients can create great experiences for everyone -- client and instructor alike.
 

Sponsor

Staff online

Top