by Richard Jameson
Interski 2015 proved to be another invaluable event for the APSI to be a part of and a great learning experience for all of the team and supporters that attended the event in September this year. Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Argentina was a difficult place to get to but an awesome cultural experience for all involved. Meeting with the other countries national demonstration teams, listening to their thoughts on snow sport education and watching their demonstrations is always the highlight, but the connections and friends made at these events can last long after the 48 hour flight home and be invaluable for the growth of the APSI in the years to come.
Personally, this was my 3rd Interski congress as part of the APSI Demo Team and although different to all of the others I have been to, it will prove to be just as beneficial and memorable. Out of the 32 countries that attended the event there was a noticeable high standard of skiing/riding amongst all of the teams and although you may have liked some more than others, I definitely saw this year’s event as having a much narrower gap between the stronger/weaker teams. The information gathered was also quite similar amongst the countries with a heavy focus on learning through experiences/doing and a clear shift away from being overly technical and bogged down in too many explanations.
It’s hard of course to get a real gauge on this as I was only able to attend 3 on snow workshops during the week with 6-8 small indoor lectures in the afternoons. It is an honour though, to give you all an insight into a couple of the countries that I visited during the workshops and share some of their ideas with you. I hope I do their trainers, countries and concepts justice in the following report.
The use of radio communication between ski instructor and guest
Our clinician “Agoston Dosek” presented the use of the VOX one way radio and its usefulness during every day lessons with resort guests or during instructor training. The instructor skis with a small portable transmitter and the students carry a small receiver with earpiece so that communication can be continuous throughout the lesson. The devices are very similar to those being used by tour guides in destinations such as museums or art galleries etc.
The instructor can convey all sorts of information to their guests, including technical information about their skiing, tactics regarding the terrain ahead or just to point out certain aspects of the environment like the beautiful scenery, snow conditions etc. The devices are not used for every single lesson, but can be rented at the resort as part of the snow sports lesson product.
The devices have a range of up to 200m so communication is effective for most trails as long as you stay close enough to the instructor. They were also quite helpful when used on the chairlifts as Agoston demonstrated how information can be given to the whole class during the chairlift ride as to minimize wait time when unloading at the top. It was suggested that this type of communication could add up to 20% skiing time to the lesson, making the technology useful during short lessons or large groups etc.
Trying the devices personally during the workshop, I found them to be a fun and unique way to be guided around the mountain and through the clinic. It had many benefits especially in regards to safety such as where to stop, what the snow conditions were like ahead etc. It would be an interesting concept to try with group and private lessons as a novelty or something fresh to keep them motivated and to try something completely different. I’m not sure how relevant it was in regards to making tangible change in your students’ performance, though it would be fun to experiment with and see how these devices could have a real world application in the Australian ski industry.
Awakening emotions through various learning / teaching process for varied and experiential lessons.
Both workshops offered by DemoTeam Germany had a primary theme revolved around “teaching”. I had the pleasure of attended their 2nd workshop on experience-orientated lessons conducted by German Ski Association coach Nina Perner and German Ski Instructors association trainer Alemax Meier.
The session emphasized that each student learns differently and individually and their workshop aimed to show how a successful ski instructor can address all students by designing inspiring and motivating ski classes. The ultimate goal was to increase the student’s movement skills by empowering them to find their own solutions/strategies. Therefore, the ski instructor takes over the role as a coach and companion to support this development of skills.
There were 3 chosen areas to help show this strategy of promoting movement skills, while creating a positive learning environment and to help trigger emotions in the learner. The 3 areas were:
– Senso-motoric learning
– Feel Effects – Stress Information System
– Images and Active Language
Images and Active Language
During the 1st part of the workshop Nina led the group through an imaginative story of travelling to Interski and at each step of the journey a task was given to the group to try. For example – “driving to the airport on the busy highway” was an early part to the story. During this segment we had to ski in pairs doing short turns 1 in front of each other. The task involved the person (car) behind trying to overtake the car in front so that the leader kept having to swap turns down the run. All of this was of course told as a story rather than a technical directive. All of the tasks through the story were designed to teach the student through an experience or by doing.
Through pictures, stories, comparisons or metaphors the students were learning technique or movement skills by doing the pre-determined tasks, without much guidance as to why they were performing them from the instructor. The tasks are designed to be fun which invokes an emotional response in the learner, keeping them motivated and driving a deeper connection to the learning process.
Senso-motoric learning & Feel Effects
Alemax then took our group for a run using all of the body’s senses to develop a change in movement by using various tactile and kinaesthetic tasks. We performed tasks with our boots unbuckled, eyes closed and in pairs to help each other perform the skills. Understanding how or what the student feels during these tasks were just as important, so as to develop a connection between the learner and the task.
The information in this clinic again reinforced for me just how crucial it is to set up the learning environment and facilitate the learning process as an instructor. Rather than getting in the way of learning with too much information on how and why we should be performing each drill/task/progression etc.