Ski Instructor and Snowboard Instructor Training
American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI)
The AASI bills themselves as a close-knit group of full-time and part-time instructors dedicated to reaching the highest levels of performance within the snow sports industry. To find out more information, visit their website at www.aasi.org.
PSIA membership and certification has many benefits, including better pay scales, faster promotions, PSIA clothing discounts, a subscription to 32 Degrees magazine, and more.
For more information write or call:
Professional Ski Instructors of America
133 South Van Gordon, Suite 101
Lakewood, CO 80228
Testing clinics and information are also available at one of the nine PSIA offices:
PO Box 548
Burley, ID 83318
PO Box 243491
Anchorage, AK 99524-3491
10701 West North Avenue, Suite 12
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
1-A Lincoln Avenue
Albany, NY 12205-4900
11204 Des Moines Memorial Drive
Seattle, WA 98168
2855 Pamela Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
Rocky Mountain Division
PO Box 5143
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
8526 North Bond
Fresno, CA 93720
Canadian ski instructors or those wishing to get certified might wish to contact the following organization:
Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance
774 Decarie Boulevard, Suite 310
St. Laurent, Quebec H4L 3L5
Many years ago, instructors were categorized as registered, associate, or certified instructors.
Whereas registered instructors simply had to pay a membership fee, Level I instructors must pass a basic knowledge exam, which can be administered by the technical director of a member ski school. Level II, formerly the associate level, involves a two-day exam, both on the hill and in writing, that covers basic teaching methodology, skill level progressions, and an on-hill review of the candidate's skiing ability. Level III, previously called the "full-cert" level, also involves a two-day exam but entails a much more rigorous examination of the instructor's knowledge and skills. While ski school training directors seriously attempt to fully prepare exam candidates, only 60 percent of candidates pass the Level II exams and only 40 percent pass the Level III exams. Most successful Level III instructors have four to five years of prior teaching experience.
Certification exams are based on the American Teaching System (ATS). ATS is a student-centered framework for ski teaching that is grounded in biomechanics and teaching and learning theory. It is composed of both a skiing model and a teaching model.
The ATS skiing model is skills-oriented with students learning how to integrate pressuring, edging, and rotary movements in a balanced position. The teaching model helps instructors conduct classes by providing a structure referred to as Center Line. Center Line structure focuses instruction on specific skills to be emphasized and developed at each ability level, from beginner through expert racer.
Exams are usually administered twice a year within each division, the fall exam being the most challenging since candidates generally have had little or no on-snow teaching time since the previous spring. When one of the authors took his "cert" exam in the fall, for example, only he and three others passed the test out of a group of twenty-three examinees.
Instructors are graded in three areas: skiing skills, technical knowledge, and teaching ability. A candidate receives a pass or fail mark in each area. To succeed, however, a candidate must pass in all three areas. While most examiners sincerely hope for every candidate to pass, examiners are trained to objectively evaluate ski instructional skills.
For some, certification is a trial to be endured. For the experienced and prepared instructor, however, it can be an opportunity to shine by pulling out the "big bag of tricks." Regional offices of the PSIA sell a range of technique books, and some rent training videos to members.