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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!

NorCal Winter Rally

It’s time to rally!

The PSIA/AASI-W NorCal Winter Rally is upon us, hosted at Sugarbowl, California this January 13th-14th! Come connect with friends, earn some educational credits, and ride with our elite guest clinicians and athletes! Peek all the important information on the flyer below, and we hope to see you at Sugarbowl!

 

norcalrallyflyer

(Hover over the image to click to page 2)

PSIA-AASI National Team Tryouts

2020 maybe a year away, but it will bring with it new faces, new vision, and a new National Team!

Information on the next National Team Selection was recently released, and preparation and training for National Team doesn’t start next winter, it starts NOW.

PSIA/AASI-W will post additional Western information related to the nomination process on January 15th. If you have any interest in learning more about the National Team selection process, please fill out the form below. You may also find more information about the tryout and the application packet at the link below.

Tryout Information and Application Packet

PSIA-AASI Western National Team Tryout Nomination Application

  • Provide us with an outline of your motivation for advancing your snowsports journey at the Divisional or National Level.
  • Provide us with your Resume Highlighting your ski industry accomplishments

You are Invited to the Operation Rebound Nordic Challenge

“Operation Rebound Vets go From the Frontline to the Finishline”
 Nordic Challenge Charitable event is on March 10-11, 2018 at Sierra At Tahoe.
We all become challenged athletes eventually. Operation Rebound is a veteran component of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
 It is a tax write off for non vets who take the OR Nordic Challenge.

The event is a chance for veterans and active military to spend a weekend in the Lake Tahoe area. This is an opportunity for those who have served to reconnect with fellow vets from past and present conflicts. The event is designed to provide an opportunity to reconnect with first responders and rehabilitation personnel from your past in a healthy and supportive place far from the battlefield.

The mountains of the Lake Tahoe area are full of beauty that can help heal the body and spirit. There will be multiple venues for those who come to enjoy this wonderful place.

  • Free lift tickets will be offered at Sierra at Tahoe resort for all veterans or active military with ID or some kind.
  • Limited free lift tickets are available for veteran families on an individual basis. Contact event organizer Jim Cahill at jimcskiguy@gmail.com for more information.
  • Strawberry Lodge is offering discounted room rates Friday and Saturday nights
  • Snowshoeing and snow play areas at Sierra at Tahoe will also be available to families of the attendees.
  • Discount snowmobile tours and rentals from Lake Tahoe Adventures
See details on the website.

What goes on in a Snowboard Level 1 exam?

 

For those who are new to PSIA-AASI or even instructing in general, it can be hard to imagine exactly what a Level 1 exam will be like. When I took this exam in January 2018, I had minimal teaching experience but had taken enough lessons in the past to understand some of the terminology and techniques. The exam was both a learning experience and a chance to showcase what you already know. I liked how if you didn’t know an answer the first day, but you learned and could demonstrate it as the days went on, you could still do well.

Day 1 started off riding around groomers and getting comfortable with each other in our groups of 5-6. We went over some of the technical terms outlined in the National Standards. We received good 1 on 1 feedback from our examiner on both our snowboarding and our teaching. 

Later in the day, each candidate did a mini lesson with the group. We were given a topic to teach such as one foot skating or getting on the chairlift. It was interesting to see things broken down to such basics. It had been a while since I was a beginner, but once we reviewed how things are learned, the memories of being a beginner came back to me. It has been years since I was scared of getting off the chairlift or doing my first toe side turn.

It was difficult to think about everything a beginner would think about. For example in my first lesson, I told my “subjects” to come to a stop, then I realized I didn’t teach them how to stop. So I backed up and showed them how.

Besides teaching the class a topic, we also demonstrated our own snowboarding ability to the examiner. This is also outlined in the National Standards. 

At the end of the day, we were all given a topic and an age group that we were going to do a 20-minute lesson on the next day. I had to teach an intro to jumping to adults in their 40’s  with the goal of eventually getting them into the park to jump. Other topics included linking turns and Ollies. 

Ride demos in the park include basic air off small jumps and 50-50’s on ride-on boxes.

As a student in other candidates’ lessons, it was fun acting as different age groups and ability levels. I sure had fun acting like I was 7 for the purpose of making the lesson more realistic for my group member.

After passing the exam, not only did I receive a certification, but I also learned a lot in the process and came out as a better instructor. It was a good mix of being a fun and inviting experience, but still having an exam to pass.

Writing and photos 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!