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Alpine Education Resources

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Alpine Education Resources

General Resources:

This is a navigation portal of links to resource documents that you should be incorporating into your development plan as you pursue the next level of certification or otherwise evolving your skills as a ski instructor.

PSIA-AASI National Resources:

Central Division Resources:

Alpine Certification Resources

Listed below are several portals to the resources and information you can use to achieve your desired level of certification.

  1. The PSIA AASI National Alpine Standards This link is a must.  Use these documents as a starting point for your pathway to certification. Of special note:  the ground-breaking template “The Five Fundamentals of Good Skiing” for the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels.
  2. Check out the Guide to Becoming a Certified Instructor
  3. Review Performance Guides, including new for 2021 People Skills.
  4.  Review the  Sample Exam Scoresheets
  5. The Alpine Certification Skiing Tasks  Portal helps you delve deeper into exam expectations by detailing the kinds of skiing activities (referred to as “tasks” in exams) you should have experience with (Level 1), competency in (Level 2), or mastery of (Level 3).  The tasks are organized by certification level.  Video links are provided for some, but not all, of the skiing tasks.
  6. The Alpine Exam Protocols Portal (tasks, movement analysis, teaching) helps you delve deeper into exam expectations by showing you the kinds of teaching assignments you should have experience with (Level 1), competency in (Level 2), or mastery of (Level Teaching assignments are also organized by certification level and should be looked at as representative of the kind of assignments you might be given, and not a complete or exhaustive list.
  7.  Certification Pathways and Exam Descriptions for each exam provide details and prerequisites for each exam.  Also, Event Day–What to Expect is exactly that: an explanation of an event day from arrival to wrap up.

Alpine Exam Protocols: Skills, Teaching & Movement Analysis

Skiing Tasks Exam Protocols

Alpine Certification Skiing Tasks

Tasks are intended to illustrate the Alpine Skills (Rotary, Edging, Pressure) and 5 Fundamentals in Highlighted, Blended, and Applied format. 

What: During an exam day, you will be observed skiing during your teaching segment (demos), when you perform as a student in another candidate’s teaching segment, and skiing a selected series of these tasks (at least four).

Why: The Tasks have been selected to ensure that the skiing skills being evaluated in PSIA-C Certification Exams represent the PSIA National Standards at each Certification Level.  The use of these Tasks helps to ensure that our exams are conducted with consistency from Examiner to Examiner and Exam to Exam—throughout our division—and are likewise consistent with all the other divisions of PSIA.

How: Successfully skiing these Tasks requires you to commit the time necessary to develop experience with (Level 1), competency in (Level 2), and mastery of (Level 3) the 5 Fundamentals of Good Skiing as outlined in our National Standards. You can begin by exploring and practicing the Alpine Skiing Tasks and Movement Learning Activities for Developing Skilled Skiing (above on page). Attend appropriate PSIA-C Education Events, work with trainers at your local or nearby ski schools, get friends to video your skiing, collaborating with your peers to help each other prepare for success.

** Assessment activities noted in the National Performance Guides are simply a few examples of a wide range of activities that can be used in an exam to determine if candidates meet the Assessment Criteria in a given section of the exam.  The activity used for a specific Assessment Criteria could be as written in the Performance Guide but also could be some other task with the intent of determining if a candidate demonstrates successful or unsuccessful performance contributors.  Tasks now serve as a vehicle for examiners to evaluate an exam candidate’s mastery of the assessment criteria.  The ability to perform a task is still important as they may relate to Assessment Criteria as specified by examiners during the test.  

Both are important.  As you train, however, look to understand the skill blends required for each task and how each task may relate to the ACs described in the Standards. The ability to adapt your skiing on command to meet certain parameters of a task will make you a stronger skier and should lead to success if pursuing higher certification.

Skiing Task Exam Protocols

Every Exam, including Level 1, will include—in addition to free skiing and in-class demonstrations (your performance while teaching or as requested in another candidate’s teaching segment)—a selection of at least four Tasks with the sole purpose of helping both you and your Examiner discover your strengths and weaknesses in the Five Fundamentals of Good Skiing, as outlined in the National Standards. While Tasks have individual scores, one should not see the scores as “passing” or “failing” and individual task, but rather see the tasks are revealing various strengths or weaknesses in skiing performance. 

The Tasks may be assigned in a number of ways:

  • To exploit available terrain. (Pitch may be available but crowded and/or unusable certain times of day)
  • To exploit available conditions. (Hard snow early would favor sliding /slipping or dynamic, high-speed activities; soft snow favoring rotary focus like bump skiing)
  • To aid in the flow of information/learning. (Tasks might help highlight someone’s teaching, or flow nicely from a teaching segment)
  • Randomly. (Sometimes the group will find itself in an ideal spot for a Task)
  • Upon request of a candidate, as part of a “teaching opportunity.”
A Task may be selected, at the discretion of the Examiner, from the list at your Level, or from a lower level, as an exploration of the D.I.R.T. (Duration, Intensity, Rate, and Timing) aspect of the group’s skiing or to utilize available terrain to help evaluate one or more of the 5 Fundamentals.

Remember, you are not graded on the Tasks themselves, but on how the highlighted (Level 1), or blended (Level 2), or refined and accurate (Level 3) fundamentals are presented throughout the day in all aspects of your skiing performance.


Movement Analysis Exam Protocols & Sample Teaching Assignments

These Teaching Assignments are meant to provide guidelines to help candidates prepare for their exam(s). The lists are by no means exhaustive, thus a candidate may find him or herself given a teaching assignment not on this list during an exam. However, it is our belief that success can be achieved through a combination of: actual teaching of customers at the appropriate level, practice teaching (peer to peer) of a variety of the assignments on these lists, and committed study of the materials such as the Teaching Model, Core Concepts, Biomechanics—and by a thorough grounding in the National Standards and the Five Fundamentals of Good Skiing.

What: Assignments generally fall into three categories—Introducing, Refining, and Mastery—and correspond to the kinds of lessons we give the general public. For example, a common lesson in the Beginner Zone has as a goal the safe and fun acquisition of the basic skills necessary to turn left and right on appropriate beginner terrain. A Level 1 Exam teaching assignment might be to introduce wedge turns to this beginner. A common lesson in the Intermediate Zone has as a goal the safe and fun acquisition of the blended skills necessary to make parallel turns on appropriate intermediate terrain. A Level 2 Exam teaching assignment might be to refine the rotary and edging skills necessary to turn Wedge Christies into Basic Parallel turns.

Why: Working through sample teaching assignments can give instructors the opportunity to experience situations that it might take years to accumulate naturally. In addition, the Catch-22 rule often applies: How does an instructor get experience at Level 2 teaching when a prerequisite for those lessons at many ski schools is Level 2 Certification?

How: There is no substitute for experience. The portfolio process has taught us that we get better when we reflect on our experiences—that we learn how to be better teachers not by rote, not by studying texts, but by teaching! Start by practice teaching those assignments that relate closely to what you already know how to do. Expand from there. Work with your peers to help ensure that your demos are on target. By also practicing the Alpine Movement Learning Activities for Developing Skilled Skiing (link in the Alpine Resources Portal) you will gain insights into the movements you need to focus on in any given lesson. Attend appropriate PSIA-C Education Events, work with trainers at your local or nearby ski schools, and find friends/peers with whom you can try out your lessons.

Teaching Assignment Exam Protocols

Your Teaching Assignment is more than an assessment of your ability to observe and convey technical elements of skiing– Candidates should have the ability to incorporate the student profile, including background, experiences, limitations and capabilities, interests and fears. A capable instructor integrates this information within their teaching in order to adjust and adapt to student needs and wishes. At Level I, tis may be as simple as adjusting lesson pacing and practice relative to prepared lesson plans. Level II candidates choose from a variety of applicable activities to find those that best suit the student, while Level III instructors create activities to arrive at the most direct path to learning and the desired outcome.

During the Teaching portion, all elements of the Teaching Model should be present including movement analysis, presentation of information,  checking for understanding, guiding practice, presenting feedback and summarizing the lesson.  Technical Knowledge will also be tested as examiners ask questions on the slopes, on lift rides, or indoors.

With every teaching assignment at every level you will be asked to identify the who, what, why, where and how of your lesson plan. This is for your benefit, to help you prepare for what can be an unnatural and sometimes unsettling experience of presenting in front of an “audience” of your peers, rather than the ”students” you are used to being in front of.

Experience with the Movement Learning Activities to Develop Skilled Skiing will help you plan the “guts” of your lesson: the series of practiced and related movements which when skied in order will guide your students safely and pleasantly from one set of blended movements (say, a Wedge Christy) to another set of blended movements (an Open Parallel turn).

Movement Analysis/Tech Exam Protocols

During the exam process, each candidate will be asked to provide movement analysis of other skiers, both live and on video.  While movement analysis can be a daunting proposition for some, it is an important part of your professional development, and a critical component of ski teaching mastery. Take the time to study the document: PSIA-C Movement Analysis Model: O.E.P. (Observe, Evaluate, Prescribe) as a starting point to develop your MA skills.

There are several different scenarios that an Examiner may use when asking a candidate about MA. The most common would be during your “Teach” day, as you make observations and decisions related to “student” performance. In some cases, an  Examiner might ask the group to observe a member of the skiing public, and provide a description of a particular aspect of that skier’s performance, and possible prescriptions that might result in an improvement of that’s skier’s performance. While these are common scenarios, they are only examples—and an Examiner may provide other scenarios where movement analysis can take place.

The M.A./Tech module of the Alpine Level II and III exams are virtual: Candidates meet online with their assessors, and a video clip is played. The candidate is expected to describe the skiers application of the fundamentals in each phase of the turn, along with primary and secondary skill relationships. Cause-and-Effect, use of the D.I.R.T. model, an understanding of tactics vs. technique– each of these topics are to be expected and discussed during the M.A./Tech virtual module. 

Movement Analysis is part of the PSIA Certification Process. At each level there are different standards, just as there are for skiing and teaching.


Movement Analysis Overview

At level 1 a candidate should be able to identify the fundamentals of good skiing, and the skills we employ.

What does this mean in plain English? A level 1 candidate should be able to observe when a skier has their “hips behind their feet” or if the skier is “biased to one side” for example. Subsequently the candidate should be able to identify which is a positive cue and which is a cue that would indicate a change is needed.

L I Sample Teaching Assignments

Your clinician will have guided you through many lesson segments online, and you will probably have had a chance to present a portion of a lesson to your peers. The exam day (on-snow) teaching assignments will therefore come as no surprise, and both your expectations and the group leader’s should be in sync. These Level 1 sample teaching assignments are meant only to remind you of what you have probably already experienced in your tenure as a ski instructor.

  • Share your “introduction” with the group, setting expectations for a beginner lesson
  • Discuss boot fit and comfort
  • Introduce “Bootwork”
  • Describe a ski and common terminology (e.g. Tip, Tail, Toepiece)
  • Present an example of 1-ski activities (i.e. Scootering)
  • Present an example of 2-ski activities (e.g. “Wagon Wheels”, practice wedge)
  • Introduce Side-Stepping or Herringbone
  • Select appropriate terrain and introduce “straight runs”
  • Introduce a Braking Wedge
  • Develop Wedge Changes
  • Introduce Wedge Turns
  • Link Wedge Turns

In each of these examples, be sure to interact and engage- don’t simply present. If an opportunity arises for feedback- constructive AND supportive, offer it.  If you are really comfortable, address some common issues you have experienced when teaching a particular skill. 


Movement Analysis Overview

At Level 2 a candidate should be able to distinguish “what is happening” and make a lesson content decision based on that observation as well as the student’s goals.

What does this mean in plain English? A Level 2 candidate should be able to identify more than just the components of good skiing. The candidate should be able to identify both the Effective and Ineffective skiing visual cues and have an understanding of what those allow or inhibit in the skiers performance. Movement Analysis at Level 2 begins to be an ongoing process with the candidate monitoring what the student is doing and providing feedback within a coaching scenario. We follow the O.E.P. Model of analysis: Observe, Evaluate, Prescribe.

PSIA-C LII M.A./Tech Segment

PSIA-C provides continuous access to the LII teaching assignments via our Youtube Channel.

One of the keys to a successful teaching performance in an exam environment is to remember this simple directive: knowing that you want to affect a change in the performance of the skis will help you figure out the steps needed to get to your goal. As you review the Level II M.A./Tech videos, note that in every case, you can observe what the skis are doing when the lesson begins, and you will hear the student describe their goals.  

Be sure to include those factors that inhibit or enhance not just the skiers performance, but how they affect the goal the student has identified. 


L II Teach Segment

The PSIA-C Level II Teach Segment is accomplished in an On-Snow Teach Day event.

In a 20 minute Teaching segment, you will assess and plan for the needs of the student by considering their student profile, students needs, and implement your lesson and address those needs. 

For an On Snow Teach Day teach segment, you will be given an assignment to address, and you will provide the student profile you are using for you lesson planning. You will implement this teaching segment to the candidate group and offer relevant feedback to this group in front of you. A post lesson review and reflection will follow each lesson and will relate to teaching assessment criteria topics.


Movement Analysis Overview

At Level 3 a candidate should display a strong ability to quickly ascertain a skiers strengths and deficiencies relative to that skiers intent.  Included in this is a refined understanding of effect-and-cause relationships relative to skill references and specific movement issues. A candidate should be able to make technical lesson content decisions based upon specific movement analysis observations.

What does this mean in plain English? The candidate at Level 3 should be able to watch a skier and develop a lesson plan based on the observed outcomes of the skis and the observed body movements creating them. The level of analysis and understanding of movements must be great enough—and in depth enough— that the candidate can communicate with the skier, through focused feedback, how they need to change their movements to effect the changes they want in their skiing.

Alpine LIII M.A. Tech Segment

In the LIII M.A./Tech Segment, Candidates will join a pair of examiners online, watch a video of a high-end skier in a variety of situations, and using the O.E.P. model (Observe, Evaluate, Prescribe), offer insights into that skiers skill use and representation of the 5 fundamentals.  An example video is available HERE.  

Expect to answer questions from your examiners, 30 minutes will be allotted for your analysis and discussion.

Scores will be provided within 48 hours.  

Teach Exam Protocol and Sample Teaching Scenarios

Since Level 3 Teaching Assignments almost always will evolve based upon the performance of the group, sample teaching assignments are only given here to stimulate your preparation process. Imagine a “clinic” with your peers, which you may be asked to lead. Your technical knowledge (biomechanics and physics) and movement analysis skills may be tested at any point: during the class, on a chairlift ride, indoors. Keep that perspective in mind as you work through these samples. At this level, candidates need to be especially cognizant of the Variables such as Environment: Terrain and Conditions, Speed, and the dual elements of Accuracy: Consistency and Adaptability.

Assessment Activities (Scorecard Specific Categories): Please view the PSIA assessment form for all assessment criteria. 

Teaching Effectiveness

  • Candidates will Manage the Learning Environment
    • Terrain choice, snow conditions, traffic on slope and weather conditions.
    • Candidate performance is evaluated against the PSIA National Standards for Level 3. 
      • Lesson Delivery and Content
        • Candidate performance is evaluated against the PSIA National Standards for Level 3. 
        • Assess and Plan
          • Continually assess student’s motivations, performance and understanding.
          • Collaborate with students to establish and adapt a lesson plan with a common theme and a clear directions’ and individualized focus throughout the lesson. 
          • Plan creative, playful and exploratory learning experiences in which movement, practice time, and terrain are optimized for individuals. 
                • Implement
                  • Customize and pace learning activities to allow students to explore and /or play toward desired outcomes. 
                  • Tailor the learning environment to align with the needs of the individuals. 
                  • Provide clear and relevant information( descriptions, demonstrations & feedback).
                  • Proactively manage physical risk to promote engagement in the learning environment.
                  • Manage levels of emotional risk to optimize individual engagement in the learning environment.
                          • Reflect & Review
                            • Encourage the student to communicate change in performance and/or understanding.
                            • Collaborate with students to apply gained skills to skiing situations. 
                              • Candidates will also be evaluated on their responses to examiners’ questions following the Teaching segment. (Questions will focus primarily on teaching, however, some technical questions may be asked to gain clarification of the candidate’s understanding.)  

                              Movement Analysis

                              • Movement analysis will be evaluated based on observations of the group during the teaching presentation.
                              • During the course of each Teach segment the candidates will be evaluated on their ability to give accurate feedback to individuals in the group. This feedback will be based upon visual observation of each participant. 
                              • Candidates should structure and communicate movement analysis in a way that is efficient, concise and clear. 
                              • Examiners will allow candidates to complete their movement analysis before offering suggestions. Such as redirecting, asking questions, etc.. 
                              • During the candidates presentation examiners will avoid asking technical questions or interrupting the presentation. 

                                      Some Examples:

                                      Explore how we control the rotation of the skis (turning, pivoting,steering) with leg rotation separate from the upper body so that we can make short turns on steep pitches. (This assignment may evolve naturally from a Benchmark Activity such as Pivot Slips.)

                                      Explore how we control edge angles through the use of inclination and angulation so we can carve short turns on steep pitches. (Your examiner may set a tactical goal of speed control in Performance Short Turns, with other candidates focusing on different fundamentals.)

                                      Explore how we control pressure from ski to ski and direct pressure toward the outside ski so we can make a carved medium radius dynamic parallel turn. (Can you imagine the changes in ski performance that different body movements will create? Is speed a minor or major factor?)

                                      Explore how we regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction so we can ski smoothly through the bumps. (Talk about reality. This is where the rubber meets the road. A Movement Analysis goldmine!)

                                      Compare and contrast the difference in pressure control between round “defensive” short radius turns and carved “offensive” short radius turns. (Here you cannot just stop at the “how” of performance—the “where” and “why” are critical!)

                                      Compare and contrast how we control the relationship of the Center of Mass to the Base of Support to direct pressure along the length of the skis in a long radius, medium radius and short radius turn. (Your Examiner will likely set parameters of one or more Variables in order to keep this clinic from becoming too vague. Or he/she might ask you to do so! For example, you could set the performance requirement of maintaining consistent speed on a blue/black groomed run moving through all three turns.)

                                      And here are a few open-ended sample assignments:

                                      Your group just finished some rockin’ high speed medium radius GS-speed turns on the blue groomer. Your group leader says to you; “We’re going over to the real steep pitch, Karen. Keep it exciting, but keep us safe.”

                                      Today is your lucky day. A foot of fresh Midwestern fluff fell last night. “Rob, we all want to win the Figure-8 contest. Whaddawe gotta do to win this thing?”

                                      Today is your unlucky day. Yesterday’s dump has turned into a half-foot of cement. Nonetheless you got the first few runs of the day to set the tone for the group. “Hey Anika, any advice you wanna share before we get started?”