|Professional Ski Instructor of America (PSIA) certification examiners from all over the country met on the ski trails in West Yellowstone to update and unifying national examination standards. The PSIA Nordic Team spearheaded this astounding event by creating an opportunity to bring the PSIA Ski Team of examiners and clinic leaders together with the USSA Cross Country Ski Team coaches to look at how the two organizations could better work together to foster more unified standards and improve ski education at all levels.
In a strong spirit of cooperation, our group compared the PSIAs recent six component Skills Model with the simplified three part skills model being used by the USSA. We enjoyed a collaborative effort with Pat Casey and Matt Whitcomb, coaches from the US Ski Team.
Our collaboration produced a new three-part model that includes Body Position, Timing, and Propulsion. These components are a mirror image of what USSA is using to produce the best Nordic racers in the US. To refine this "Track Matrix," we dove into the descriptions for the various levels of PSIA instructor certification. There is nothing like a roomful of ski instructors to over-analyze the simple act of sliding on snow. At the same time, we all recognized the importance of mutually agreed upon measurable, easily recognizable and attainable standards. I'll be looking at these descriptions later in the winter along with photos of skiers.
All this took place among the ritual of West Yellowstones Fall Camps, a Nordic skiers paradise. The streets are filled with Cross Country skiers and racers of all abilities and ages on their way to the trailhead, skis in hand. Junior skiers and elite racers whiz by on the trails. Manufacturers and reps stand by at the trailhead with new equipment to demo and custom wax jobs to keep your skis fast.
Hundreds of Nords, completely focused and immersed in improving their skills and fitness, fill the Rendezvous Trail system. In the midst of this inspiring and overwhelming cross country scene, the PSIA team of boys and girls alike were treated to the eye candy that only high speed Lycra can provide.
Surprisingly, amid all this distraction, we managed to stay on our skis, avoid being flattened by serious, gun-toting biathletes and other racers, and remained on task. Our days consisted of skiing and many hours of working through the details that would generate and clarify the Cross-Country Instructor Certification Standards.
We came to a consensus that we believe will standardize the certification exam process all across the country. Standardized certification will lead to standardized instruction both throughout all of PSIA and the USSA.
Any you thought I just went to West Yellowstone to have fun.
Top: The busy Rendezvous Trailhead during the height of the Yellowstone Ski Festival.
Second from Top: For our first on snow classic ski session temperatures were in the mid 30s providing for difficult waxing conditions. Can you guess who's using waxless skis? From Left to right are: Randy French (Eastern Division), Urmas Franosch (Western), Brock Woods (Central), Scott McGee (PSIA Team), and bending over and waxing hard is Ross Matlock (PSIA Team).
Second from Bottom: Don Portman (Western) makes a point to Scott McGee (PSIA Team) while discussing the relaxation phase of the diagonal stride.
Bottom: USSA Ski Team Coach Pat Casey demonstrates the USSA concept of a stable panel.