Why Travel? Story From an International Instructor

Kurt and his group

A year ago, Kurt McMahon from Australia wouldn’t imagine he’d be where he is now. After graduating from high school, Kurt embarked on a more conventional route and enrolled at a university. Kurt loved studying and university life, but he had a burning desire to explore and see the world. A year into a physiotherapy degree, Kurt decided that if he was going to go traveling, it needed to happen now. So, after completing his first year of study, he packed his bags and jumped on a plane destined for the USA.

Kurt chose to become a ski instructor at Northstar Ski Resort located at the beautiful Lake Tahoe in the USA. After visiting the nearby Squaw Valley as a young kid on a family ski holiday, Kurt always dreamed over returning to Lake Tahoe one day and becoming a snowboard instructor.

Kurt arrived at Northstar and began training almost immediately. Training under some of the best instructors in the world, there was no room for ego and Kurt took in all the advice he could from his trainers. Coming from a background of snowboarding only once a year and straight into three weeks of full-on training, Kurt’s riding improved immensely.

The biggest thing for me was dropping any ego I had at the door and taking on any advice from these guys as they were the ones who have been doing it for more than 20 years!

Kurt quickly settled into his new life at Northstar, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Being 18 and away from home for the first time, one of the biggest challenges Kurt faced was finding accommodation for the season. “Finding the right house that can suit your needs and is in the right location is maybe [one of the biggest challenges] that we’ve faced in our lives to date.

Kurt quickly figured out that the best way to overcome this was to find a bunch of people he got along with and patiently wait for the right place to come along. And his advice for anyone else in a similar boat? “Find a bunch of people you get on with and take time trying to find your accommodation and make sure you have plenty of options in case one doesn’t work out.

The best part of Kurt’s EA course was the people he met along the way. During the six months, he made friends from all over the world, including Germany, England, and New Zealand. His favorite place to hang out off the slopes was at a pizza joint called Rubicon’s where he learned the American tradition of adding ranch dressing to pizza. “My mates and I loved coming here after a big day at work, and it was a highlight at the end of the working week! Being an Aussie, I have never really grown up with ranch on my pizza, but I don’t think I will be able to let it go once I return home.

When training had finished, Kurt began work immediately as an instructor and quickly fell in love with his new role. “There’s a reason it’s widely known as one of the best jobs on the planet. You’re sharing your passion for the sport with others, and at the end of the day, they go home stoked and so do you because you get to do it all again tomorrow! There’s nothing quite like it.

After completing his EA instructor course, and working his first winter season, Kurt decided he wasn’t ready to return to Australia just yet. At the end of his season at Northstar, Kurt travelled down the East Coast of the USA with a friend he met on his EA course. He then headed back to the West Coast and is now living and working in Los Angeles, California.

While Kurt plans on joining the yachting industry next year, he’s excited to do another winter season instructing too. “It was honestly something that I will remember all my life. I would encourage anybody else to get out there and give it a crack. You’ll meet people from all over the world, and you get to do what you love every day.

Kurt’s advice for anyone considering a ski or snowboard instructor internship or a gap year abroad? “Keep traveling, don’t waste away your late teens and 20s sitting at an office. Keep doing what makes you happy!

This content was originally published in September 2018 at https://easkiandsnowboard.com/resources/latest-news/instructor-story-kurt-mcmahon/

Events to look out for in March

What a month! Tahoe resorts received up to 300  inches (That’s about 25 feet) of snow in February alone, according to the Opensnow report . Not bad for the shortest month of the year.

Photo courtesy of Sierra at Tahoe, February 2019

Many resorts have broken records for biggest February in recorded history. The average February snowfall for Tahoe is 72 inches (6 feet). This year was close to triple that. Some resorts have even broken the record for the biggest snowfall month, beating out the unforgettable January 2017.

Sitting at close to 200% of our average snowfall for this time of year, we’re in for an epic spring. (if it ever stops snowing!) What a great time to earn your education credits, take an exam, or get an accreditation.

Here are some of the events to look out for in March 2019:

 

March 13th: Cross Country level 2 and 3 exams at Tahoe Donner XC center

The Level 1 is on March 17th ay Tahoe XC

March 16th – 17th: Alpine and snowboard level 1 exams at Snow Summit

March 17th: Cross Country level 1 exam at Tahoe XC

March 18th: Spring Session Education Rally in Mammoth (all disciplines)

This is a one-day education event at Mammoth. You can earn continuing education credits, work on your own skiing/riding, or prepare for an upcoming exam.

March 19th -20th : All level Alpine and Snowboard exams

This is a great opportunity to hone your skills at Spring Session the day before your test. Exams will be offered for Alpine and Snowboard level 1, ski/ride level 2 and 3, and level 2 and 3 teach.

March 20th -21st : Senior Specialists level 1 and 2 at Northstar

This accreditation is for members of all ages looking to learn the best techniques for teaching senior skiers and snowboarders. Successful Cantidates will receive a senior specialist pin.

March 30th-31st : All level Alpine and Snowboard exams

 

And remember, its never too early to start planning for Spring Convention coming April 26th -30th , at Mammoth Mountain. Look out for more information in our Spring 2019 Edge newsletter coming mid- March. You’ll find a schedule, guest clinician highlights, party information, and more!

We Want You To Run for the Board

Do you have qualities and experience that would make you a valuable member of the PSIA-AASI Western Division Board of Directors?  Do you have ideas on how PSIA-AASI can better serve its members? Do you have the skills needed to implement those ideas?  If you think the answer to these questions is “yes,” we’d love to talk to you about running for the Board.

Complete and submit the application below to run for the Board before January 30th.

Our annual Spring Board meeting is the Thursday before the Spring Convention every season.  Our two-day Summer Board meeting is in Truckee the first weekend of each August. In addition to the two meetings, we have monthly one-hour phone calls.

There are twelve elected seats on the Board.  Each is for a three-year term, so four seats are up for election each year.

Further information on the director position and its responsibilities can be found here.

How to be a Great Board Member.pdf

ARTICLE X - BOARD OF DIRECTORS - PSIA-AASI WEST.pdf

PSIA/AASI Western Division Board Position Application

  • Upload a photo, resume, articles and any other material you feel will support your reason to be voted onto our Board of Directors.
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, pdf.

Women’s Summit 2019

Ladies! (Ski and snowboard) This year Women’s summit is January 15-17, 2019 at Steamboat Springs, CO! Interested?

 

Video Series – Beginner’s Guide to Skiing

Winter is on the way, so Halley O’Brien and Eric Lipton of PSIA and Snow Operating bring you a three-part video series on learning to ski to share with your friends, new-hires, and students alike!

The first video will show you all about the gear you’ll need to to start your day of skiing right!

 

 

Continue on with the second video, where Halley and Eric show you how to stand up, climb, and glide.

 

 

Top it off with the final video to learn how to turn, how to stop, and how to ride the chairlift.

 

 

Winter is soon to arrive,  so use these videos to share the excitement of skiing with your fellow instructors and students! See you on the hill!

We Want You To Run for the Board

Send in your application to run for the Board before January 15th.

The 1st weekend of August is our Summer Board meeting that takes place for 2 days in Truckee, California.  We have monthly 1 hour phone calls, and our Spring Board meeting is the Thursday before the Spring Convention every season.
Positions on the Board – There are 12 official seats (You Can find the working job descriptions here)
Excomm
President
Vice President
National Rep
Alpine Discipline Chair
Snowboard Discipline Chair
Other Positions
Children’s Chair
Policy and Procedures Chair
Publicity and Advisory Chair
Education Chair
Convention Chair
Ed Foundation Chair
Member School Management Chair
Sub-Chair Members
Adaptive and Senior Chairs

How to be a Great Board Member.pdf

ARTICLE X - BOARD OF DIRECTORS - PSIA-AASI WEST.pdf

PSIA/AASI Western Division Board Position Application

  • Upload a photo, resume, articles and any other material you feel will support your reason to be voted onto our Board of Directors.
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, pdf.

New Instructor Course

Welcome to one of the most fun jobs you’ll ever have! After you take this course, you’ll learn a few things about being a snowsports instructor and have even more fun!

Follow one of the links below to access the free course used to help enhance your on-snow training and it’s a great way to learn more about your job. So, let’s get started. Here are the steps:
Already a PSIA-AASI member? Sign in using your current member login on file. It’s the same email and password used at thesnowpros.org
Create a user account on this website
Purchase the course – don’t worry it’s free, then follow the link on the order confirmation page
Complete the course, then share your results with your snowsports school via email and download/print a certificate to share at a later time
OK, let’s get started!

 

Education Events 2017-18

Earn your Credits;
Get ready for that Exam

Fall Rally, Dec. 10-11th at Mt. Rose
NorCal Rally, Jan. 21-22nd at Squaw
SoCal Rally, Jan. 28-29th, Snow Summit & Bear

Education Rally, March 18-19th at Mammoth

Here’s what to expect:

These events will help you improve your personal skiing, riding, teaching. Come prepared to have fun, hone your skills and receive updates on divisional and national material. Help yourself with a strong training program for the season to reach your goals.

Certification Prep Clinics:

  • Overview of the skills and knowledge required for all level exams, including materials and process updates.
  • On-hill teaching presentations, teaching methodol- ogy and movement analysis with personal feedback
  • Ins and outs of demos and tasks. What they are and

    how to perform them.

  • Personal and specific feedback on your performance in relation to the National Standards.

Education Improvement Clinics:

Education clinics will focus on Ski/Ride and Teach Improvement. You are guaranteed an amazing educa- tion experience and all mountain adventure no matter the snow conditions. All topics will include personalized coaching and feedback. Topics may include some of the following (weather and snow conditions permitting).

Snowboarders and Skier share the same patch.

Skiing/Riding Improvement:

• Skill development and tactics for steep and ad- vanced skiing/riding.

• Off-piste and bump skills.
• Tactics for the conditions of the day. • Maximizing efficiency and fun.

Teaching Improvement:

• New teaching ideas and tools, when and how to use them.

• Efficient teaching progressions.
• Improving your movement analysis.
• Understanding cause and effect and then devel-

oping a progression from those observations.

Children

  • New ideas and tools to teaching children.
  • In depth discussions of child behavior and how to

    work with all ages, stages and attitudes.

  • How to work with parents’ behaviors effectively
  • Special needs children in groups.

    More details on each of these events can be found at the links at the top of this article for each one. Also find all our events on the calendar.

    This article appeared in print in our Fall Edge Newsletter in September 2017.

Alpine Discipline News – Fall 2017

Bryan Schilling, Alpine Chair

When asked for the solution to society’s woes, Henry David Thoreau famously quipped: “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity…” Well that quote has always stuck with me, partly because it’s brief (and redundant) enough so that a ski instructor like me might remember it, but primarily because it rings true to my experience about life, and more importantly – about skiing. As instructors we work hard to put things into simple terms for our guests. Straightforward makes sense. This season our new members will have one simple, affordable choice for Level 1 certification; a two day module. With input from trainers, resort operators, and accessing best practices from other PSIA-AASI divisions, we are working hard to implement this pathway to Level 1 certification. I believe this simplicity for prospective members portends many positives. We have revamped the exam outline to be engaging and experiential education-based. Resort Trainers will be relieved of the burden of administering the “in-house” certification, allowing them to focus on candidate engagement over evaluation. A simpler format decreases the ‘barrier of entry’ cost for the candidate and administrative cost to the PSIA-AASI West office. What isn’t changing is that there will still be level one tasks, demos, movement analysis and teaching. The national standard is still the standard. In conjunction with this change, as PSIA-W Education Staff training will focus on pedagogy with a capital P, the method and practice of teaching. This means facilitating ‘experiential education’ approaches to learning outcomes (not just lecturing on them.) Simplicity applies to all levels of certification, it’s what great instructors intuitively do. So, there you have it – simplicity in a nutshell – we are back to the basics again. So grab friends, spouse n’ family – tell them there is never a better time to train (or re-certify!) as a level one instructor! Can’t wait to ski ya on the slopes!

-Bryan Schilling

 

This article appeared in print in our Fall Edge Newsletter in September 2017.