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.

PSIA-W welcomes our new board members

Thank you everyone for running for or voting in our members of our Board of Directors election. There are 3 who were re-elected, and one new member, Terry Peters. You can find out more about each member here.

Re-Elected:

Artie Castro

My name is Artie Castro, and I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors for the past 5 years first serving as the Member School Chair and now as the Snowboard Vice President. I have also had the opportunity to serve on the Education Foundation Board during this time as well.  I am asking for your vote so that I can continue to serve you the members who play an integral part to the success of PSIA/AASI Western Division. I have had the opportunity to be a member of this fine organization for 28 years and have seen how PSIA/AASI helps our members with so many opportunities within the Snowsports Education Community and would like to continue this tradition. As an Alpine Level 3, Children’s Specialist Level 2, Freestyle Specialist Level 2, Snowboard Level 3, and a member of the AASI Western Division Ed Staff, I have benefited greatly by my affiliation with PSIA/AASI and want to continue to help others do the same as a Board Member of this amazing organization. Thank you for your consideration and thank you for the opportunity that you have given me to serve you these past 5 years.

Email Artie @ artiecastro@gmail.com

 

Rachel Bauer 

People are my passion. I love working with and facilitating people in new and old projects, streamlining our efforts and collaborating ideas and decisions. I feel I would be an asset to the Board of Directors and our membership because

I keep my promises to others. This is easy to do when we (as a Board) focus on small, incremental goals. So far in my ex-perience with working with this group and our membership, there have been many opportunities to feel the satisfaction of a job well done. This focused intent has proven to be beneficial to my success and maintains my high level of reliability.

I hope to continue to work with the Board and the Western Division membership so to cultivate maximum productivity within myself

Leigh Pierini

I have been fortunate enough to be a member of this Board since this Spring, 2017.  I currently hold the Member School Chair position. With this role, I am also the Western representative on the National Snowsports Director’s Task Force.

In the short time, I have served on the Board, we have made great strides in delivering- ing on the Director’s wish list. It would be an honor to continue to serve the membership and the Directors by having a chair on this Board of Directors.

And a warm welcome to new Board member Terry Peters.

Terry Peters

Hello, my name is Terry Peters. I work full time at Northstar California as a trainer and as an instructor.

I have been on Ed Staff since 2003, and I wish to be a voice for our members and instructors. For those of you who don’t know me, I am known as the Energizer Bunny. I have been putting a lot of thought into what I can do to make our division and industry more successful, appealing, and beneficial to our current membership and future membership. I would like to take this energy and passion I have and see the PSIA grow so that there are accessible and definable benefits to the membership beyond certification. Life in Resort Towns can be hard; I want to find other ways to make having a life in these amazing areas easier.

Since I am a line instructor, I listen to and most definitely empathize with the challenges and needs of the instructors I work with. I want to bring your voice to the board.

I have tried to be as successful as possible with my experiences in the ski industry. Starting in Canada I worked to get my CSIA Level 3, my Freestyle Cert and my Level 2 Race Coach. Adding my to my development I obtained my PSIA Alpine Level 3, Freestyle Level 3, Children’s Specialist Level 2 and Snowboard Level 1. Still looking for ways to develop my knowledge I worked in Australia for 10 years. Working in different countries has allowed me to become open-minded and see many different points of views and needs.

Their roles will begin April 26th at noon.

Catching up with Nic Fiore Award Winner Steve Evenson

Last Fall, PSIA-AASI West presented the Nic Fiore Award to Steve Evenson. The Fiore Award honors a hard working member who has served the Division and the membership at a grassroots level. The award is named in honor of Nic Fiore, who passed away in 2009, and for over five decades dedicated himself to help Western Division become the organization it is today.

 


We caught up with Steve again to find out what it takes to become worthy of this award. Here are the tips he gave us, and we hope you can all take something away.

 

Steve started teaching in 76 at Kirkwood in a drought year. He almost almost didn’t start, as he did not get his pass until January 13 of 1977. He said he is very glad he hung in there through the lack of snow.

 

Steve’s father was the person who  instilled his passion to ski. He would take Steve out of school on Pow days so he would have a ski partner. Steve’s father also put him on the Blue Angel Race Team as a young man.

 

The biggest influences in Steve’s passion to teach were Leroy Hill, Stu Cambell, and Jimmy Ackerson. He says those guys believed in him and were pivotal Mentors in his development. 40 years later, he says he is still developing as an educator and skier. Steve believes that, “Old dogs CAN learn new tricks if you’re open to feedback and coaching.” He feels he is skiing better at 63 than at 25, except for the endurance aspect.  

 

Steve decided to get certified and try out for the Ed staff because he was determined to make ski instructing a lifelong commitment. He decided to run for the board to,  “make some changes and be proactive instead of complaining under his breath.” After 9 years he is still amazed by the Board’s commitment to members’ needs.

 

Here are his 5 tips for new instructors:

“1.Train and get certified (it’s hard to be a teacher if you’re not a student of the sport)

2. Find a mentor and hold on to them. Be open to feedback and change

3. Don’t give up. I failed my first Ed Staff Tryout and 4 National team tryouts but it just motivated me more.

4. Build a clientele from every lesson. Take personal ownership of your own success

5. Most importantly ski every spare moment you have, get out there, and git er done! As most of you know my personal love of skiing is my main motivator.”

“Ski ya later”

–Weavin Steven

Any member is free to nominate an “unsung hero” for the Award. Submit a nomination letter to the PSIA/AASI West office, kjereb@psia-w.org. (1,000 words or less please). The Heritage/Senior committee will review all submissions and announce the recipient of the Nic Fiore Award in the spring, in time for Convention.

Kirkwood Avalanche Course Deal for YOU!

Expedition Kirkwood Avalanche Adventure Center wants to give to our member a great Deal!

  1. As a PSIA/AASI member you will receive $75 off for the 3 day course bring the cost to $275!  What a deal!
  2. You will need to call Expedition Kirkwood to sign up (not sign up through the web) 209-258-7360
  3. Let the folks at Expedition know over the phone when you call that you are a PSIA/AASI member and provide them with your membership #

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.

PSIA Certification Benefits for Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood is giving you another great reason to get certified this season! Check it out:

  • Level I Instructors will receive one complimentary lift ticket during the 2017-18 winter season and 50 percent off lift tickets for the balance of the season for their own personal use, with no blackout restrictions.
  • Level II and III Instructors will receive unlimited complimentary lift tickets for their own personal use during the 2017-18 winter season, with no blackout restrictions.
  • PSIA-AASI Education Staff will receive a complimentary 2017-18 unrestricted season pass for their own personal use. The season pass includes unlimited skiing or snowboarding at Homewood Mountain Resort only, and will only include on-mountain perks listed below
    • 5 Discounted tickets for Friends and Family (30% off)
    • 10% off food and beverage
    • 10% off Rentals Demos and Retail

PSIA / AASI complimentary tickets can be redeemed day of, in person, at Homewood Mountain Resort’s Guest Services office located in at the North Lodge – 5145 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Homewood, CA 96141. Instructors must present a valid certification card defining their certification level, photo ID and provide an email address to receive their complementary ticket. Limit is one ticket per day per person. Education staff members can redeem their season pass by either contacting the Guest Services office prior to arrival, and have their pass mailed to them OR by stopping by the Guest Services office on their first visit.

West Goes East (Far East!)

by Doug Fagel

Our newest member school, Noyuki Academy

Hakuba Goryu Ski & Snowboard Resort, Japan.

The 2016-2017 season will be remembered as a win- ter full of ‘firsts’ for our resorts, schools and member- ship. One big first for the Western Division was bring- ing on our first international member school, Noyuki Academy at Hakuba Goryu Ski & Snowboard Resort in Japan. In December 2016 we operated our first interna- tional AASI Level 1 certification course, followed up with another course in April 2017. This brings the Western Division into the fold with a number of other Divisions of PSIA-AASI that are introducing PSIA-AASI standards to resorts and schools around the globe.

While there are other options for ski and snow- board instructor certification in Japan, the PSIA AASI teaching model and student centered approach is popular in the growing Asian Markets. Noyuki Acad- emy focuses on teaching Mandarin speaking students, and their instructors come from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and mainland China to teach for the winter season. The director of Noyuki Academy, Perry Moon, made the trip to our Spring Convention at Mammoth where he successfully completed his AASI Level 2 Ride and his PSIA AASI Freestyle Specialist Level 2. He looks forward to sitting his Level 2 Teach this season and has his sights on the Level 3 Certification for the following season.

We are locking down plans for another set of courses in Japan in December and March of this com- ing season with both Alpine and Snowboard Level 1 Certifications to be offered. We will be looking towards offering education events overseas for in the future. We are honored to work with Noyuki Academy and helping this talented group of instructors advance profession- ally. This opportunity also gives us in Western Division a chance to ramp up our own game, and explore new and fun ways to promote snow sports.

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