Tuesday, April 12, 2016

lacking imagination

Usual morning internet scan includes reading technobabble at EpicSki.  A few days back someone started an interesting thread about the PSIA Certification Process.  I've been through that process and had some thoughts of my own regarding what I experienced myself and saw in other skiers participating in the same clinics, groups, etc.  But since I don't post on EpicSki, I just sat back and waited to see if anyone had thoughts similar to mine.

Eventually the issue arose in this post.  I shouldn't be surprised that it was Metaphor_ who brought it up.  He didn't actually raise it directly, though.  It wasn't raised directly until later, when people had watched the skiers in this video and were commenting on what they saw here:

I watched that video and thought, "on what planet are those people L2 ready?" Most of them I would not want teaching anything but how to put on skis and stand up/get up from the ground, basic balance, basic slide/glide, wedge basics.  I wouldn't want them teaching me anything else, I wouldn't want them teaching anyone who cared about skiing well either.

I don't think any of them knows how to make a turn, but each of them has a unique way to throw the skis around (hey, maybe that's why "throw them around" is such a big deal in Blister reviews) to change which side of the run the tips are facing.

I wondered if anyone else thought the same.

Someone did.  In a somewhat reserved fashion.  But eventually people admitted that around the country, people who ski much better than those in the video above fail to make L2, while others skiing not much better than the video subjects will gain L2.

Inconsistency in standards.

It's an inevitable victim in a need it now! hyperactivity-based culture.

Of course lousy skiers get L2s, they can look like decent intermediates on nearly any modern ski, which has the capacity to make most if not all of the turn for the passenger standing atop it.  In an era when people begin to ski off-piste not because they've learned to ski well on groomers first, but because they got the right skis, of course L2 is automatic, like getting the right skis.

It couldn't, and therefore shouldn't, be about rigorous fundamentals.  L2 skiers shouldn't be able to ski crud on 80mm waisted skis, that would be an impossible standard to meet in an era where the average all mountain ski recommended for 75% of skiers has a 106mm waist!

If the industry's marketing tells beginners they are now "advanced" if they are on the right ski, I suppose instructors should be the same.


A little sanity seemed to be creeping into the discussion when this observation was shared:

Inconsistently is definitely a problem, however the only solution for it is more money in the system, and due to the fundamental issue of low pay in the US, instructors aren't willing to pay more for certification, so examiners don't get paid or trained as thoroughly as they could be. I've never worked on the EC but are most examiners full time instructors? My perception is that a lot of them are part timers as well.

The only way to have a completely consistent nationwide level would be to have an examiner pool of full time examiners, paid better than they would earn at Aspen (otherwise why do it) travelling to the exams. Unfortunately that's never going to happen.

Hang on a minute!

Strict standards and rigorous compliance with those standards doesn't cost any more operationally than lax standards and vague sorta-compliance.

I bet I could make a strong argument that over the long term, it costs less

But I only craft such arguments for pay.  And nobody's paying me.

Just kidding. 

I'll make the argument -- if it's still necessary once you've reached the bottom of this post, but I don't think it will be.


Ask yourself why someone would assume money is needed for this lax standards problem.

The same assumption is made regarding public education, and it's just as wrong there.

Why do you need more money to have high standards?

Why do you need more money to maintain them?


I've never needed the attraction of money in order to set high standards for myself.

Maybe the problem is found in why someone has gone into ski teaching or school teaching.

Saying "I really like kids" or "kids are tomorrow's hope" or such things, that doesn't speak much on the issue of education.  That's what you'd want from a babysitter/nanny, I suppose, but not what you'd want from a teacher.

Or, not what I'd want from a teacher, at least.  I don't need much comforting, just the details. 

If you don't catch what I'm saying here, try this: 

If a child needs "a safe space" in which to learn, and hearing "objectionable words" makes the space "unsafe," that's a home life problem we're talking about.  Parents have failed to teach their children that the world is a diverse place full of people who use different ways of seeing things, different ways of communicating, different types of clothing choice, eating different foods even!  The school should receive children who have learned this at home.  Schools are not for teaching that softy stuff.

Come to school ready to learn, or be prepared to fail!

That would be the motto of my school, if ever I started one.

And that should be the motto of all "certification standards" mechanisms used by entities like PSIA.

Maybe if they divorced themselves from the "resorts" and the "industry" -- got away from the "grow the sport" mentality, I mean -- they might see that high standards are easy to set and maintain, if you simply choose the proper target/focus.

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