Observations From Interski Argentina
by Chris Allen
What an exhausting winter leading into this event with the APSI calendar brought forward to accommodate our time at interski. For me one of the busiest winters I’ve had running six pre courses then marking all exams, the fatigue caught up with me not long after and to say I was concerned about my energy and enthusiasm level would be an understatement. These concerns soon went away as we started our run to Argentina with four days of training in NSW with Andy doing a good job of pacing the team as we continued our preparation.
The trip to Ushuaia was long with multiple stops and lay overs but thanks to my seat neighbor Wazza for the interesting story’s the time went by quicker. On arriving to Ushuaia the most southern city in the world we were greeted by a penguin in the airport then off to our hotel down town. Ushuaia is quite a scenic place with mountains to one side of the city and the ocean on the other .After settling in to our hotel and some well earnt sleep we were off to the host resort Cerro Castor for a ski and check the place out. We were greeted with some not so favorable snow conditions due to rain a couple of days prior then subzero temps ,to say it was bullet proof would be a good description.
On Snow with Team Italy
From the first run on the demo slope the Italian team caught my eye as a team that looked like they worked well together and as the week went on it became more evident that they were well prepared and stood out as one of the top teams. Their skiing looked great on the icy slopes of the opening day and for me stood out in the crowd more than most with a natural style but with great ski performance, although from a technique point their transition in short turn’s used a pronounced up movement to release the skis, different to us but quite effective. An interesting point was the Italian team was riding g.s skis were most teams where on slalom.
I attended ITALYS on snow presentation on teaching kids it seemed interesting to me this would be a topic of importance to this country, It’s not surprising that AMSI has put a focus on teaching kids when you consider that more than 70% of lesson’s in Italy are with kid’s,like us they have seen that kids are very important to the ski industry and have been using a unique and fun way to introduce them to our sport.
As you will see in the above photo they use mats layed out in the snow with lots of fun thing’s along the way like mascot Leo Monthy the lion and colourful flowers ,candy canes and signs.It was quite amazing to me that they could bring all this stuff to the end of the world but I guess it’s one of the advantages of having their national airline (Airitalia) sponsor the team. The layout was quite impresive and teaches kids every aspect of learning to ski from getting mobile,stopping and turning all the way to parallel turn’s in a fun way.
One point that was made very clear by clinic leader Simone Eydallin you don’t tell the kids HOW to do it the features will! At first this was hard for me digest as a big part of our teaching philosiphy is to emphasize the HOW to do it but as we progressed I could see in the early stages the kids would work it out by themselves just following this fun path that was layed out.. Even with the clever setup of the course the instructors would still need to guide the kids through the course and as they move into more complex sections be ready to demonstrate and show the kids.
Leo Monthy the skiing lion!!
The concept of FUN in a kids lesson is an important one highlighted in our fundamentals of teaching kids SAFETY, FUN, LEARNING and the Italians tick those boxes with their course but obviously it takes quite a bit of room and time to set this up which could be an issue in our Australian resorts .
Overall it was a well put together presentation of what Italy is doing to make it more fun for kids to learn the sport of skiing. For me the main takeaways where
– The main takeaway for me was letting the kids learn through doing and not a lot of interference by an instructor and letting the course do it’s thing.
On Snow with the PSIA.
The USA have released a five fundamental package as part of their national standards to bring consistency across the country. The PSIA is broken up into nine divisions with 32000 members so as you could imagine teaching and skiing philosophy can get inconsistent. The five fundamentals was released a couple of winters ago and the effect is definitely noticeable bringing more consistent information and a stronger understanding of what should be trained in the schools of America.
Robin and Jenifer did a great job of delivering these fundamentals they worked quite well together bouncing off each other to keep things moving which was great and interesting to note they were on GS skis. The fundamentals are as follows.
– Control the relationship of the center of mass to the base of support to direct pressure along the length of the ski.
– Control pressure from ski to ski and direct pressure to the outside ski
– Control edge angles through a combination of inclination and angulation.
– Control the skis rotation (turning, pivoting and steering) with leg rotation separate from the upper body
– Regulate the magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interaction
The trainers in our on snow clinic used drills to develop each fundamental and it seemed the drills where specific to the ability of the group, so the drills at times needed some thought and coordination to do them. It was interesting to see that the drills used didn’t target a movement you would like to have at final form. Their five fundamentals is very close to our basic skills of stance,rotary,edging and pressure control but the big difference is the amount of words that are used to describe the concepts.
Overall the US team seems to be on a good track bringing more consistency via sound technical concepts to their skiing and teaching.
– Top takeaway from the US would be the importance of structure.