Ramp up your park game this Spring


Alex Baker at the Northstar Freestyle session in March 2017

Did you Know PSIA-AASI West has another Freestyle session coming up during Spring convention at Mammoth? In three days of 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 kind of 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


  So does this sound interesting?








Photos and writing by Hanalei Edbrooke

Hanalei Edbrooke Nose-grabbing it up at Northstar



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!

Nordic Symposium Teams with Fall Rally

Greetings all fellow nords and those interested in becoming a nord,

Time to dust off the gear and join us at Fall Rally, Dec. 11-12 at Northstar.


Our Fall Rally will include Nordic clinics on Sunday and Monday (Snow Willing.) Whether you are preparing for Telemark or Cross Country Certification, or just want to improve your skills, join us at the Northstar track & lift system.

We welcome all free-heel enthusiasts of all levels.

For Cross Country- get more efficiency in your skating technique, or find out how to truly ‘kick it’ on your classic skis. Guest clinicians Glenn Jobe (Sunday) and Ben Grasseschi (Monday) are two of the region’s classic technique stylists. Peter Mayfield, Andrea Brideau-Miller, Chauncey Parker and Gary Schmitt will guide the skating sessions.

For Telemark- Fine tune your technique, learn how to ski better longer, or join us for the Women’s Only session.

Urmas (Golden Legs) Franosch and Dale Drennan will lead.

Our Cross Country and Telemark Level 1 Preps are Sunday, Dec. 11. These combine fun and learning, and are the required Pre Courses for Level 1 Certification.

We invite all Level 3’s in Nordic or Telemark to attend our pre-season training.

Dec. 8 Telemark at Northstar

Dec. 9 Cross Country at Northstar

For more information on clinics and clinic leaders, and to sign up: Fall Rally, 12/11-12 at Northstar

Disabilities at PSIA/AASI Examinations

By Brent Kuemmerle and Dan Stormer

If you are looking ahead to a certification event in our Division and have a disability, you may be wondering what to expect and how to best prepare.

As examiners and educators for the Western Division, we are proud of the work that our association has done to raise awareness of disabilities and smooth the road for persons with disabilities to participate in snowsports. But how does that carry over into the world of certification where members are being examined to a challenging standard? In this article, we hope to shed light on the obligations of the Association, the actions of the examiner, and the responsibilities of candidates to work together in a cooperative way to provide a positive and fair examination experience.

A little history may be helpful to better understand the reason accommodations are necessary. In the 1970s and 1980s there were a series of legislative mandates involving equality in the work place. These led to increased awareness and protections for persons with disabilities. The purpose of these accessibility laws was and is, to allow all participants an opportunity to compete equally, while also reasonably accommodating a disability, without altering the essential functions of the position sought –whether a job or a PSIA/AASI certification. These requirements are not intended to give anyone an unfair advantage. Nor is it intended to weaken the standards for performance required in the examination process. To be certified, our members must meet the requirements of the National Standard for that discipline. The real question is, how do you do that when a person has a disability?

The definition of a disability for our purposes, focuses on functional issues. Under these requirements an impairment qualifies as a disability if there exists one or more of the following:

• A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of that person,

• A record of having such an impairment, or

• Being regarded by others as having such an impairment.

• Examples of major life activities include, but aren’t limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

Sounds pretty broad, huh? Historically candidates were told to inform the examiner of any infirmities so the disability could be addressed in the exam. As examiners we tried to take the disability into consideration when looking at skiing, demos, etc. This leaves a lot of room for personal discretion without sufficient guidance for either the candidate or the examiner. The Western Division is trying to directly confront the need for certainty and clarity for examiners and candidates alike.

If a candidate with a disability is requesting a reasonable accommodation there are two things the candidate must address and an examiner must evaluate:

• What functions in the examination does your disability affect?

• What accommodations would reasonably provide for fair access without impinging on the essential requirements of the examination?

If a candidates disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious, PSIA/AASI is entitled to ask for medical information confirming that the disability is covered under the law and merits accommodation. It is the responsibility of the candidate to provide the appropriate medical information requested where the disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious or already known.

A reasonable accommodation is defined (for our purposes) as any change in the way things are customarily done that provides an equal opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential certification function), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable a candidate to have equal access in the examination process. Examples are rest periods, timeouts, extra time in certain situations and other accommodations which do not impair the essential functions of the examination.

The information should be brought to the attention of PSIA/AASI at least 3 weeks prior to the exam. Our education staff can ask for proof of the disability in advance of the examination and the candidate must describe what specific accommodation is requested as a result of the disability.

Under the Rehabilitation Act, medical information obtained in connection with the reasonable accommodation process must be kept confidential. This means that all medical information obtained in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation must be kept in files separate from the individual’s test performance. This includes the fact that an accommodation has been requested or approved and information about functional limitations. It also means that whoever obtains or receives such information is strictly bound by these confidentiality requirements.

In the end, integrating members with a disability into our certification events is a new opportunity for all of us to learn, and with good communication we can make this process easy and respectful to all parties.

If you are taking a PSIA/AASI certification, and need to inform us of a disability that needs and accommodation, please send an email request to info@psia-w.org at least three weeks prior to the desired event. Please include specifics on the requested accommodation(s). Please be ready to submit proof of the disability in the form of a Doctor’s note, or supply more information if needed. Your information will be kept confidential. As always, do not hesitate to contact our office with your questions.

Brent Kuemmerle is an L3 Snowboard Instructor, Examiner, Adaptive Ed Staff, and Adaptive Committee member. He currently runs a non-profit, the Tahoe Adaptive Competition Center (TACC), to provide training opportunities for athletes with a disability. In 2012 TACC hosted the largest adaptive snowboard competition in history. TACC hosts daily training, camps and competitions at various locations in the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Brent is also one of those candidates with a disability who might not tell you until you ask…or notice the single golf shoe. Dan Stormer is an attorney whose practice includes representing persons with disabilities. He is also a L3 Adaptive instructor, Examiner, Adaptive Ed Staff, and Adaptive Committee member. He also has L2 Alpine, L2 Seniors and L2 Children Specialist. He is on staff at Mt High

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!


Snow Pro Library Puts PSIA-AASI Resources at Your Fingertips

With PSIA-AASI’s new Snow Pro Library, all of the association’s digital resources can be easily viewed on your computer, or on your smartphone/tablet as part of a free app for Apple, Android, and Kindle Fire users.

The magazine and catalog are, of course, accessible by all members. The digital editions of the Alpine Technical Manual, Freestyle Technical Manual, Snowboard Technical Manual, Telemark Technical Manual, and Cross Country Technical Manual — as well as the Adult Alpine Teaching Handbook and Snowboard Teaching Handbook  are also available for those who have purchased them. Here’s a quick primer on how to access those resources right now.

How to Download and View PSIA-AASI’s Digital Publications on Your Smartphone or Tablet:

  1. Find PSIA-AASI’s “Snow Pro Library” app by searching for “PSIA,” “AASI,” or “Snow Pro Library” in the appropriate app store:
  2. Install the app
  3. Open the app
  4. Click Member Login
  5. Sign in using your current member login on file with PSIA-AASI:
    • Username = Your email address
    • Password = Your member number or another password you created
  6. Click Manuals/Videos
  7. Click the discipline of the manual you purchased (alpine, snowboard, or telemark)
  8. Members-only bonus! View digital editions of 32 Degrees and the Accessories Catalog

For the Snow Pro Library app, once you sign in with your current PSIA-AASI log-in, you can download the entire manual purchased (and/or 32 Degrees and the Accessories Catalog) to your smartphone or tablet and view the embedded video – with or without internet connection.

Desktop access (see Digital Manuals on the “Education” page of TheSnowPros.org) does require an internet connection, and provides lots of cool features to enhance your reading experience – like the ability to share content via email or social media, highlight text, create notes, and add bookmarks. Just look for the function icons at the top of each page.

PSIA-AASI’s digital resource offer a great way promote your own understanding of technique and tactics, or to show students. (Be sure to check with your ski and ride school for insight on how, when, and where video is best shared as a part of a comprehensive approach to learning).

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….