New Events coming April 3-15

If you still want to get your level 1 or your Snowboard Level 2 this season, we have some new events coming up!

You can go see them all and register at

April 3 – Snowboard Level 1 Validation at Boreal

April 3-5 – Alpine level 1 exam at Mount Shasta Snow Park

April 4-5 – Snowboard Level 2 teach exam at Heavenly

April 9 – Snowboard and Alpine level 1 Validations at Bear Valley

April 9 – Snowboard Level 1 Validation at Mount Rose

April 15 – Alpine Level 1 Validation at Mount Rose

Ramp Up Your Park Game


Alex Baker at the Northstar Freestyle session in March 2017

Did you Know PSIA-AASI West holds Freestyle Session Events?  This is a 3 day focused freestyle training, you will have the opportunity to ride one of the best parks in North America with some of our best PSIA-AASI freestyle staff.

One of Mammoth’s parks. Photo by Mammoth Mounatin

Chris Ball Winds up for a 360

What is a Freestyle session?

A Freestyle Session is an education event and an exam all at once. While less structured than regular exams, attendees still have the opportunity to prove they meet the standards for PSIA-AASI Freestyle level 1, 2, or 3. It’s like an exam, but more “freestyle”, so to speak. When you sign up, you do not sign up for one specific level, but you attend and are given the level you deserve at the end. This way, if you do not have a level 1 but are  riding and teaching in the park at an advanced level, you may receive your level 2 or even 3. Likewise, if you are going with a level 2 as your end goal but do not meet all the standards, you can still walk away with a level 1.

Who can attend?

The group at Northstar Freestyle Sessison, March 2017

If you have at least your Alpine or Snowboard level 1 and are a current member, you can attend. These events are for skiers and snowboarders of all park abilities. You are split into groups based on ability after the first day, so you will be able to ride with people who will push you within limits. So if you are working on your 720s and hit 50 footers with ease, no need to worry about being stuck in the first-timers park. If it is your first time in the park, don’t worry about having to hit the biggest features or being left behind. There’s something for everyone.

Brian Norman, showing that the halfpipe is for skiers too

What can I expect each day going into a freestyle session?

Ronnie hitting a jump with style at Northstar

All three days are technically part of the exam, but each day builds up to the final day when you will receive the results of what level you achieved. Not only will you work on teaching in the park, but you will have the opportunity to work on your own ability and pushing your own limits. The first day is more freeform, and you can expect to receive coaching on your own riding. Expect to explore all the parks and see what the resort has to offer and become comfortable with the parks there. Day 2 focuses a little more on coaching, and you can expect to receive and give a few pointers with your fellow attendees. Although you will still have some coaching from the PSIA-AASI tech team, day 3 is almost all coaching from your peers. You will be observed not only on your riding, but your ability to teach the group a certain skill in the park. What you teach depends on the level you are going for.

Doug Fagel, one of the trainers, boosting out of the pipe








Photos and writing by Hanalei Edbrooke



Still Time to Register for 2017 Women’s Summit

The 2017 Women’s Summit is still open for registration! New this year are Tele and Cross Country clinics.  Check out the  Event Guide for more details. Participants are welcome to attend one day or all three. Guest speakers and apres activities each night.

Register for 2017 Women’s Summit

If you are already registered…share the above link or the attached registration form with your lady friends or for those women you know that are associated with other snowsport professional organizations.

Hope you can join us!

The Last Lesson

By Crook Rusty


My wife and I were having dinner one night when the phone rang. It was an old friend from my past. This man was not a bosom buddy, but he had been a friend for years. We had worked in the same ski school for years, and in the last years he had worked for me in my senior program. He informed me that he had moved back to town, after his wife passed away and now was living with his daughter in Carson City.

He told me he was 94 years old and that he had not skied for 10 years, and had never used the new shaped skis. He had been anALPINE avid golfer and had lived for quite a while in Palm Springs, California. Now that he was back in town he wondered if he could still ski and he wanted to try the new shaped skis. In the old days, he was a certified instructor and was more than adequate as a skier and instructor.

I informed him that a couple years ago I had a stroke that left me with double vision, so he was asking the walking wounded for help. I asked him why he wanted me, of all people, to help him. He said that he trusted me because he knew that I was so politically incorrect that he could believe what I said and there would be no B.S. I told him if he was willing to put up with me, I would certainly try to help him as best I could. I offered to pick him up, but he informed me that he was still driving and would meet me at the ski area.

We met in the cafeteria, had a cup of coffee, and mapped out our plans for the day. I told him that being an accomplished skier was actually a detriment because he was so used to the old-school methods. I asked him to forget all the things he used to teach and do. I told him what we would do is work on some basic skills, focus on function, and have fun.

It is my belief that older people still have good thought processes and can have their mind do the work their body no longer is able to fight through. It was good to be with an old friend to try and make the most out of function while having fun at the same time. It is my belief that if you don’t understand what you’re trying to do and can’t really feel it, there is little hope of accomplishing anything.

I was able to get my buddy a pair of high-performance shaped skis, good boots, and a pair of ski poles. We were now ready to take on the mountain.

We started with a review of what the stance should be. He agreed with most everything that I said except he thought the weight should be on the balls of the feet, but he told me that being flat-footed made a lot more sense.

The first little drill that we tried was a straight run to a gliding wedge. Here we used flexion and extension. It is a known fact that many older skiers are quite stiff in their body movement. I think by finding out what body movement does for you, he could see how movement helps you with what you are trying to get the skis to do. We took at least two runs doing our change-up drill. By doing this, he could actually feel how the up unwaiting of the extension made it easier to operate the skis. I think that feeling this is very important.

We were working on relatively flat green runs. We were having a good time and no one was bothering us. We were on a long run that gave us plenty of time to work on different maneuvers. The next thing we worked on was keeping a good body stance. After we worked a little on the stance, we worked on the ability to flatten one ski. In doing this, we obviously made a long radius turn in the direction of the flattened ski.

We did this at the top of the rise and it became quite easy to feel what was going on with the skis. In the wedge, people have their weight on the two inside edges. When one of the inside edges is flattened, the other ski becomes dominant, and makes a skier turn.

It was at this stage of our drill that we started talking about a strong inside body. As we flattened the inside ski, we raised our inside hand, elbow, and shoulder to help our body cross over and change the side of the ski that was flattened. This is a simple drill, but it seems to be the biggest help to keep from stepping off the new inside ski to the outside ski. This stepping movement is old school and is referred to as the up and over move. Instead of stepping, we are looking for a flow towards the new turn. I think a lot of the really good skiers still use stepping as they have for many years. It seems to me, this simple drill can help them be more current and flow towards the next turn.

In the natural progression, we take this wedge turn into a wedge Christie. As long as we keep doing the same things we did in the first drill, we maintain good body mechanics and flow. We like to call this the silky-wedge Christy and it seems to be a very important thing. If you get it right, it can help you in most of your general skiing.

Our next drill was obviously the wide track parallel turn and by using almost the same maneuvers, we found it very easy to make a few changes. It is still important to flatten the inside ski and to keep involved all the other things that we were doing. As we go on to the more advanced turns, it all seems to fall into place. By the time we were through, my old friend and I looked around and determined we were more than likely the most contemporary and functionally sound skiers on the hill. Of course, we could have been a little prejudiced.

My friend called me the next day and told me that after the two and a half hours of skiing his legs were not tired at all. I think that was a good testimonial of how well contemporary skiing helps seniors. After 60 years of teaching skiing, it was more than likely my last lesson, and was a great way to end my career. This lesson put me on a high that lasted for weeks.

Interested in finding out more about teaching seniors? Check out our senior summit event on March 5-6!

Winter Sport Injury Prevention

At our October “Professional Development Day” sponsored by  the PSIA-W Education Foundation, attendees received some great information on Injury Prevention for skiers provided by Barton Health. Michelle and Barton have generously provided this handout for those who could not make it . Enjoy and
ski free! (Injury Freescreen-shot-2016-12-03-at-2-13-50-pm

Courtney Carmichael, PT, DPT

Michelle Appelle, PT, OCS

the most common ski injury

• ACL tear is the 2nd most common ski injury

• ACL & MCL tears = 30% of skiing injuries

• Age: 15-24 y.o. = most likely to injure knee

• Decreased fitness >> more likely to be injure

• Stretching = important for prevention

• Adequate rest breaks & hydration

• Hx of knee injuries = more likely to re-injure

• Previous ACL injury = increased risk for Osteoarthritis later

• Head injuries are increasing in incidence

Injury Prevention: Equipment

• Boots- Proper fit, wear and tear

• Skis/Snowboards- Size, tuned properly for conditions

• Bindings- DIN settings

Injury Prevention: Mechanism of Injury

• Most common mechanism of injury: non-contact:

• Landing a jump in poor form: Weight back >> boot pushing on calf >> force through tibia tears ACL

• “Phantom foot phenomenon”- Uphill arm back, skier off balance to the rear, hips below the knees, uphill ski unweighted, weight on inside edge of DH ski, upper body generally facing DH ski (If all 6 components are present at same time, injury to DH leg is imminent)

• Ski catches awkwardly in the snow or carving of the ski twists the leg.

• We can’t prevent contact related injury, we can only reduce the incidence of non-contact injuries.

Correcting poor technique

• Maintaining balance and control • Keep hips above knees • Keep arms forward

Avoiding high risk behavior

• Don’t fully straighten legs when you fall

• Don’t get up until you’ve stopped sliding

• Don’t land on your hand: break fall with uphill arm

Head Injuries- A New Phenomena

• 70% of skiers and snowboarders wearing helmetstripled (3x) since 2003

• There has been no reduction in the # of snowsports-related fatalities or brain injuries in the country (NSAA)

• Number of snow-sports-related head injuries among youths and adolescents increased 250 percent from 1996 to 2010.

Concussion Signs- Observed

• Can’t recall events prior to/after a hit or fall • Appears dazed or stunned • Forgets an instruction or unsure of the location, time, or other factors • Moves clumsily • Answers questions slowly • Loses consciousness (even briefly) • Mood, behavior, or personality changes

Concussion Symptoms- Reported

• Headache or “pressure” in head

• Nausea or vomiting

• Balance problems, dizziness, double/blurry vision

• Bothered by light or noise

• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy

• Confusion, concentration or memory problems

• Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”

Head Injuries- Action

• Keep person with possible concussion out of activity the same day of the injury

• Require clearance by a healthcare provider.

• Don’t try to judge severity of the injury

• Decision regarding return to work/school/sport- made by a healthcare provider only

Helmet Safety

• ASTM1 certified helmet- tested for safety

• Clean with warm water and mild detergent

• Don’t store helmet in a car or direct sunlight

• Do not decorate your helmet- paint/stickers

• Ski helmets are designed to withstand more than one very minor hit

• A ski helmet MUST be replaced if it has been involved in a serious crash or is damaged

ACL Tears in Females

Non-contact ACL tears are up to 8x more common in female athletes. ACL tears are 3x greater in alpine female skiers. Risk factors for increased rate of ACL tears in females are:

• Anatomical: wider hips, increased hip internal rotation, “knock-knees”, small ACL, small notch size

• Hormonal: changes in laxity during menstrual cycle

• Biomechanical: inefficient muscular control, improper mechanics during sport Understanding & preventing noncontact ACL injuries 2007

ACL Injury Prevention Programs

Decreased occurrence of ACL injuries by 60- 89%. The emphasis of programs has been on reducing high risk positions and training for proper technique. Common components are stretching, strengthening, balance, plyometrics and core stabilization. Access exercises from 2 popular programs online:


Low blood sugar and dehydration lead to impaired reaction time, cognition and decision making increasing injury rates A 30 minutes training video with printed materials on nutrition and a balance program provided to ski-area staff was effective at reducing injuries in participating resorts by 65%. Injury rates at non-participating resorts increased by 34%. BioMed Res Int 2013 Nutrition: consume small, frequent meals.

Biomechanics of Injury

Ligament Dominance: knee collapses inward during sport because the athlete is relying on the ligament and joint structure to absorb forces instead of muscle control. To correct: train for proper technique Quadriceps Dominance: knee remains more extended (straight) because the athlete is over-active in their quadriceps and underutilizing their hamstrings. To correct: incorporate hamstring strengthening Leg Dominance: most of the weight is on one leg during ACL injuries. 20% decrease in strength in one limb leads to injury. To correct: train for asymmetries, incorporate single leg exercises Trunk Dominance: trunk tends to be tilted to the side during an ACL injury. Poor trunk control will lead to fall during skiing/snowboarding. To correct: train with core stabilization North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2010

Training Principles

Training is most effective when resistance exercises are similar to the sport in which improvement to sought. Train by strengthening the same muscle groups used in skiing/snowboarding. Incorporate anaerobic exercise by utilizing interval training. These are short duration, high intensity exercises to mimic activity on hill. In order for training adaptions to occur, we have to exercise beyond a level that our bodies are normally accustomed to. This is why it is necessary to progress an exercise by increasing the sets, repetitions and/or resistance.

Time of Day

Most skiing and snowboarding injuries occur close to noon or at the end of the day. Injury rates increase when skiing/riding greater than 3 hours with a break. Rest and replenish your body during your break to reduce injury risk.

Vermont Safety Research

Serious knee sprains in the on-slope staff of 20 ski areas was reduced by 62% by with a video-based training video that utilized education on proper fall technique and avoiding high risk behavior Am J Sports Med 1995

• Avoid high risk behavior: Don’t fully straighten your legs when you fall, don’t try to get up until you’ve stopped sliding, don’t land on your hand, don’t jump unless you know where/how to land

• Routinely Correct Skiing Technique: Maintain balance and control, keep hips above knees, keep arms forward

• Recognize Potentially Dangerous Situations: Uphill arm back, off-balance to the rear, hips below the knees, uphill ski unweighted, weight on inside edge of downhill ski tail, upper body generally facing downhill ski

• Respond correctly to loss of control: Arms forward, feet together, hands over skis

• Conditions: Be aware of changing snow conditions that can contribute to injury risk, wear proper goggles in low visibility

• Equipment: Properly tune equipment at the beginning of the season

• Responsibility Code: Share with others to improve safety on hill Lots of valuable information at:

Lessons on the Road to Passing the Level 3

by Ali Macgrain

Attaining the level 3 had long been a personal goal of mine, ever since I did my first season in the USA. The road was a long and arduous one, but that made the success all the sweeter!


Along the way I met some truly inspiring individuals who coached me not only to become a better skier, but a better instructor and arguably, a better human being and to them, I am truly thankful- Dave Mannetter, Mark Spieler, Finlay Torrance, Robin Connors, Penny Askew-Maxwell & Eric Tanner, I mean you!

I would like to share the lessons that I learnt along the way, so hopefully, your pathway is shorter, quicker and generally less circuitous than my own…

Commitment to training is vital- rolling a private lesson and having the guest return is a fantastic feeling, both emotionally and financially, however, in hindsight, they may have not been my wisest decisions!

Using teaching time to work on movement patterns- looking back, so often I did not utilize my teaching time effectively to ingrain movements from previous training sessions and subsequently, it took longer to build the muscle memory.

Realizing that every training session included a sample teach- every clinic was actually a fantastic example of how to structure a lesson (teaching model, VAK, teaching styles, etc), how to build a progression (whether that be a simple to complex or a gross to refined movement) and the “what”, “why”, “where”, “when” and “how” of it all.

Days off were a luxury I could not afford.

Attending training on dull edges was a waste- learning how to tune my own skis and how to keep them sharp was invaluable to my development, skill and my bank account.

Utilize every educational resource possible- reading every manual from PSIA is a given, but there were concepts and teaching from other teaching systems’ manuals that really resonated with me. Furthermore, the PSIA Movement Matrix is an incredibly useful tool, for movement analysis, visualization purposes and understanding the necessary movement patterns. In recent years, I have combined my watching of the Movement Matrix with YouTube and social media.

Giving myself a realistic timeframe to pass- committing to sitting the exam before I was ready put me under additional stress and was detrimental in the short and medium term. Instead, speak to your trainer and together, decide when is appropriate for you.

Do a Southern Hemisphere winter.

Surround yourself with a good group of people who are training for the same exam- motivation and drive can take a beating along the way, but with a good support network you can encourage each other, keep spirits high and keep striving towards that end goal.


All your hard work and perseverance will pay off too! Best of luck!


Summer Events

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Happy September 1st!  We hope summer has been amazing for you, but, like us, you are starting to have snow dreams.  PSIA-AASI West education staff is offering some events this month and October. Find out more about each event by clicking on the links!
Skate well and ski better! This camp emphasizes the benefits of inline skating to enhance your fitness IQ, safety awareness, and specific skill development for Alpine skiing. This is the new Skate To Ski for all levels of skaters, including beginners and those who haven’t rolled in awhile. Demo gear and skates are provided by Rollerblade, or bring your own. Don’t forget your helmet!!

September 23 – Mountain Biking, Northstar

You will explore teaching concepts and content that you can directly apply to the trail and the slopes.  Participants will also learn valuable tips on summer cross-training programs to facilitate agility and flexibility. This event is open to all levels.  If new to mountain biking,  put yourself in the shoes of a beginner and learn something new; your riding and teaching will only improve!

October 1 – Surfing, San Onofre Beach

Join Artie Castro and Doug Fagel for the 2nd Annual Surf to Snow event at one of California’s best beaches! This one day education event helps to develop crossover skills that translate to improved skiing/snowboarding performance. Participants will learn valuable tips on using surfing as a crosstraining tool to strengthen agility and versatility on the slopes. This event is open to all disciplines and all ability levels; from first timers to advanced level surfers. The group will be camping Friday and Saturday night at nearby San Mateo Beach Campground.

Plus, plan ahead for more Fall events
Oct. 3 –Tenth annual Ed Foundation Golf Tournament, Dayton Valley
Oct. 15-Professional Development Day, Lake Tahoe Community College,
with keynote speaker Juris Vagners and more….

Alpine Events

PSIA exam standards and the impact of Skis design on your movements.

Greeting fellow snow lovers,
My job as Alpine VP is to try to explain how and why we assess candidates in the way we do. Also, when we see movement patterns in our candidates that are wide spread and detrimental to their success we need to make some changes to the information that we provide and set expectations that you can follow as you train to sit any given exam. Let me explain what I mean.
When ski equipment characteristics change there is an equal and opposite reaction that we need to be aware of. Failure to recognize change may affect our movement patterns and can have a negative outcome for you and your students. Our new found accessibility to ski challenging snow conditions on FAT, Rockered, and funky side cut skis does not necessarily mean that we are better skiers it simply means that the skis are making it easier to be out of balance and stay out of balance without falling over.
The movements that we are seeing in exam candidates have changed in the past few years as a direct result of changes in ski design and particularly side cut. Let’s call this the ACTION. Side cut allows a skier to balance on a platform and follow the designed arc or radius of the ski. Most recreational skis now have a design radius of 9-14 Meters, which allows most people to feel the sensation of carving without the need to be skiing at 50MPH. Our body movements follow more of an ARC and so the mechanics of skiing have been altered significantly. Generally speaking skiing has moved from a sliding sport with a dominant rotary focus to sliding activity with a predominant edging or carving based focus. Neither of these aforementioned skill focuses are “bad”, it is just more difficult to accurately control a rotating ski than it is to stand on a carving ski. This ease of use allows for less disciplined movements and as a result we are seeing exam candidates with significant deficiencies in their rotary skill blending abilities, this would be the OPPOSITE REACTION. Common deficiencies are a rotation of the whole body into the turn, an inability to separate and control the rotation of the lower body underneath a stable upper body and a lack of discipline and accuracy with hand, arm and pole usage. Each of us have idiosyncratic movements that at some time will hinder or help our skiing, and modern side cut has directly affected how we feel when skiing but it has not made us technically more accurate or efficient. It’s like when I’m playing golf and hit my new oversized driver, it feels great, but I’m still not a good golfer.
To address this collective issue we will be adding a few skill based tasks to the Level 1 and 2 exam this season. The goal is to highlight and refine your rotational skill blending and balancing abilities from an entry level and beyond Level 3. These tasks are, pivot to a hockey stop, blocking pole plant drills, pivot side slips and a focus on hand and arm movements that complement and enhance the turn mechanics of any given turn. Please review your relevant certification study guide for specific details.
As professional instructors we need to have, or strive for a mastery of all movement patterns and have the ability to analyze and understand how these movements are helping or hindering you or your students’ performance. By shifting our skill focus to train for accuracy in our rotational movements, which is the opposite reaction to undisciplined skiing we will assure that our instructors will be more successful as they develop as professionals and will be better served when they attempt higher levels of certification that require greater accuracy in these areas.

Have a great season and “May the Force be with You.”