By Kim Seevers, ASF Program Development and Grant Director / PSIA Adaptive Team Coach
Held every four years, the Interski Congress is the most important technical/academic meeting for snowsports instructors in the world. In each Interski Congress the representatives and demonstrators of the national associations of each member nation participate. The congress lasts a week and the program includes seminars, workshops, and technique and methodology demonstrations on the ski slopes by the demonstrators of each nation.
As the two members of the PSIA-AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America – American Association of Snowboard Instructors) National Adaptive Team, Geoff Krill and I were privileged to be a part of the US delegation presenting in Ushuaia. This was the first Interski held in the southern hemisphere and Cerro Castor is the southern-most ski area in the world (think penguins, sea lions, and the jumping off point for Antarctica). This was reflected in the 57 hour travel marathon it took to get down there. The 25 members of the PSIA-AASI team, including alpine, snowboard, Nordic x-country and telemark, freestyle and adaptive, arrived in Ushuaia on September 2nd and got right down to business, polishing on-snow and indoor presentations and working to be sure we were presenting a unified and consistent message across all the disciplines.
Adaptive isn’t very well represented on most of the other countries’ national teams although their countries do teach adaptive lessons. PSIA-AASI felt our presence in Argentina was essential for two reasons. Most importantly, attendance at Interski every four years often drives the development of new teaching paradigms as teams look inwardly to assess what resources are needed to drive their membership’s development. The US Adaptive Team (including adaptive folks from around the country who contribute to adaptive education materials) is considered the leader on the world stage for adaptive skiing and snowboarding. As we anticipated, other countries were looking to the United States to provide education materials they could take home for their own members’ use. Geoff and I spent a good bit of time just networking with delegates from other countries who came to represent their nation’s adaptive program. I fielded several requests to visit ASF this winter; I hope a couple of them come so you all can talk with them about adaptive programming in their countries. It’s really very interesting.
As the representatives for the US adaptive world, Geoff and I worked over the summer to produce what we hope will be two very important teaching pieces for adaptive instructors. For Interski 2015, we rolled out a beautiful hardcopy training piece called Alpine Fundamental Mechanics Across the Adaptive Disciplines. It’s a series of six 11 x 17 foldout sheets, each of which looks at one of the five alpine mechanics as it relates to two, three, and four track skiing, and mono- and bi-skiing. The intent for the piece is to provide instructors with an easily understood graphic that allows them to compare what they may know about teaching one discipline to teaching another they might not be as familiar or experienced with. It also validates our assumption that alpine skiing mechanics apply to any skier regardless of disability and ability.
The second piece is a comprehensive power point that includes tons of photos and video clips to help trainers teach, and instructors learn, the fine art of teaching bi-ski. And when I say comprehensive I mean comprehensive! Over 130 slides provide an A to Z guide that includes assessment, equipment, equipment selection and fitting, safety considerations, and teaching progressions. Because it’s a power point, small sections of it can be taken out for a clinic, lesson, or exam study session. Bi-ski teaching is such a labor intensive discipline we hope that having a comprehensive piece like this will be a huge bonus for instructors who don’t get to teach bi-skiers much.
Despite the inordinate amount of time it took to get there, visiting Ushuaia and participating in Interski 2015 were experiences that only happen once in a lifetime. I was so humbled to be a part of the US team and very proud of the message we delivered to the snowsports teaching world. The good news is that ASF instructors will be the first people in the country to get a peek at the adaptive materials if they come to the fall meeting. Until then, if you have any questions about Interski I’d love to talk with you about it, just ask!
If you’d like to learn more about Interski and how the US team fared, you’ll find daily updates, photos and videos here: http://www.thesnowpros.org/NewsInformation/NewsAnnouncements/tabid/117/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/804/Interski-Five-Top-Takeaways-from-Interski-2015.aspx