by Chris Thompson, PSIA-NW Certification Vice President
All disciplines – alpine, snowboard, telemark, track and adaptive – have an approved exam program. Upgrades are implemented on a regular basis to ensure that the exam programs meet the current PSIA/AASI National Standards. The Alpine exam has most recently been upgraded with a newly revised PSIA-NW Certification Guide which was made available on-line at psia-nw.org in early November. Additionally the Snowboard National Standards have been updated.
Certification is designed to test levels of achievement; from your early skiing days and through your first class assignment as a new instructor and beyond. The skiing module is a test but should be viewed as a fun challenge, not unlike skiing with your peer group at your home area. In the teaching module, you are not only sharing information with your peers, helping them to understand what and how to teach, but also improving their skiing performance at the same time. Most snowsports schools as well as the division offer “exam prep” clinics. Realistically, all clinics are skiing/riding and teaching improvement opportunities and as a result should be seen as having an underlying exam focus.
The exams are based on National Standards developed and adopted by the National organization. These standards can be found in each of the PSIA-NW Certification Guides, at the psia-nw.org website or PSIA/AASI National website at thesnowpros.org.
In addition to the National Standards, each of the nine divisions, from East to West, utilizes the skills and teaching matrix, visual cues, etc. as resource exam material. Divisions typically break down the exam into modules – a written test, a skiing test and teaching/professional knowledge test.
To meet the needs of our predominantly part time snowsports instructors, the Northwest division has opted to host the exams in an accessible and affordable manner; a one-hour written exam module; a one-day skiing/riding module and a one-day teaching and professional knowledge module. Pre exam clinics, while strongly recommended, are not required. Once you have passed the written module, you are ready for the skiing/riding and teaching modules.
The spring exam series, held at one or more resorts in each region of the division, provides ample opportunity for testing. The exam dates are listed at psia-nw.org in a calendar or list view, and in the 2010/11 Season Guide which was published in the Fall 2010 issue of the NW Snowsports Instructor newsletter. Please refer to the Season Guide or website to plan your skiing/riding and clinic needs accordingly.
The skiing/riding and teaching modules each are lead by two examiners. In addition, you may have an examiner in training or a training director observing the exam process. This past season, we restructured the alpine teaching module enabling the two examiners to stay together throughout the day to ensure consistency, where both examiners are able to observe each candidate during the entire exam day. Although it is recommended that you prepare for two long teaching segments, you may only have one long segment, with a shortened movement analysis directed practice teaching opportunity.
This season, the primary focus has been the alpine skiing module – now listed as Skiing Skills & Technical Understanding in the Alpine Certification Guide. The Level II and Level III skiing modules continue with the same number of skiing tasks as the past few seasons. However, the tasks are now broken down into Skiing tasks and Exercises & Versatility tasks. This was implemented to help you understand that the latter were selected to test your overall skill blend but are also there for you to use as skiing improvement and skill development training tools. Once again, the tasks are used to evaluate a candidate’s mastery of skill blending, and depending on conditions of the day, not all tasks may necessarily be performed.
Also, there is now a technical component to the skiing module. As noted in the exam guide: “During the day, the examiners and examinees will discuss the technical skiing elements to ensure understanding. This does not influence the overall grade but provides an opportunity to rehearse the understanding of each of the selected tasks enabling performance as well as goal setting.”
This summer the alpine certification guide was rewritten to give it more of an educational focus as well as a “how to” guide. Redundancies have been removed; each chapter is more specific to the level. One of the major changes is in the Reference Chapter which is now Reference and Resource. One element of change is the addition of a list of proven exercises that are linked to a document that describes the exercise and lists the primary skill or skills affected.
Currently there are twenty alpine examiners, nine snowboard examiners, four telemark examiners, four track examiners and two adaptive examiners in the NW. These examiners, Technical Team members and all of the Divisional Clinic Leaders are well versed in the exam process and are there to help you succeed. In addition to all the written materials, these dedicated individuals are great resources, and are always eager to answer your certification related questions. Simply go to psia-nw.org, navigate to the “Who We Are” menu, then choose your discipline for a complete list of divisional staff.
Looking forward, updates will be made to the Alpine and Snowboard Exam Task DVDs. We will also be adding additional resources and links to training aids which will be useful in your day to day teaching/coaching, and to help you better prepare for your exam. Remember, the exams seem like a long way off but they are coming up quickly, so get ready.
[connections_list id=14 template_name=”div_staff”]