SNOWORKS PRO: Reach The Level

Phil Smith, Director of Snoworks Ski Courses, former BASI Trainer and former member of the BASI Alpine Consultancy Group explains how to ensure a PASS on your BASI exams. PHOTO: Dynamicpictures.

How can you ensure that your skiing performance is ‘up to scratch’ whoever the assessor, whatever the conditions, whatever the criteria, whatever the level, whatever the course?

How can you be completely assured of attaining a PASS for your ski instructor exams?

The first thing to do is to check your understanding of skiing performance.

Performance can be placed onto a continuum of open and closed skills. CLOSED skills (those that are repeated and not affected by external factors) being at one end and OPEN skills (those that are constantly changing in relation to external factors) at the other.

Where does your skiing and the type of performance you’re practicing fit into the OPEN and CLOSED spectrum?

To check your understanding think of running through a crowded bar carrying a tray of drinks and describe your movements accurately, then repeat the feat exactly. Impossible! Now take that scenario and think of skiing. Imagine standing at the top of a mountain. Set off, it’s steep, 40 degrees, off-piste, soft snow and deep, half way down the slope narrows, the snow gets heavier, wind blown, obstacles, then into a heavily skied section with moguls, small, spread out then bigger bumps, tight with a rut line, on to the piste, fast, hard snow, ice, around the corner the slope narrows then widens, speed varies, the line changes.

Now describe it accurately and repeat the feat exactly. Just as running through a crowded bar carrying a tray of drinks, impossible!

No imagine arriving at the top of a race course. The set is different to what you’ve been training, it’s snowed overnight on top of hard pack, visibility is coming and going, the top is fast, over a ridge with sheet ice, tightens onto the steep, a fall away on the left foot, speeds up towards the bottom, then into a tight delay just before the flat, lose speed here and it’s all over, across the flat, last two gates tighten, through to the finish. After the first 20 runners the course has become icy and rutted and there is nobody slipping. Plus there’s a 10 minute delay just as you prepare for your run. Sound familiar?

Ask yourself – are you prepared for every eventuality? What type of performance are you developing? CLOSED or OPEN? Repetitive or constantly varied?

The scenario with practicing closed skills (repetitive movement patterns) is that depending on your assessor, or the ski course, the performance they want to see or you need to execute may vary. The performer can end up going around in circles trying to perfect a closed skill that they believe is the one the assessor wants to see or the skill required to race the course. The problem is assessors change, environments change, courses change and so does criteria.

It comes as no surprise that those skiers trained to a high skill level in ‘open’ skills pass their ski instructor exams with relative ease because they are able to adjust their performance accordingly to external factors. So if an assessor sets the objective or a course setter sets the course, if the performer is skilled enough in open skills then it’s relatively straight forward to achieve what is being asked, whoever the assessor, whatever the criteria, whatever the course set, whatever the environment.

BASI has a world-renowned structure incorporating the skills in skiing for developing open performance known as the ‘Fundamental Element’s, their ‘Components’ and the ‘Performance Threads‘. A true understanding of these skills and the ability to adjust and apply them in a constantly changing environment is the key to attaining a PASS for your ski instructor awards, whoever the assessor, whatever the criteria, whatever the course, whatever the environment.

Don;t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s simple or quick and you cannot cut corners but in the long term you develop sound foundations to your skiing that prepare you well for all eventualities. With patience, understanding and dedication you will arrive at the point where you can handle almost all terrain, snow texture, course set with relative ease.

At Snoworks PRO we can help guide you on your journey towards open skill development.

Snoworks enjoys a long-standing affiliation with BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) going back some 35 years when director of Snoworks, Phil Smith took his first BASI exams. The relationship is flourishing today with all Snoworks instructors qualified to the highest BASI ISTD level.

Training on Snoworks Pro Courses is from current BASI Trainer Lee Townend, four time Olympic skier Emma Carrick-Anderson, former BASI Training Executive Nick Quinn. Phil Smith former ISTD BASI Trainer and member of the BASI Alpine Consultancy Group, former racer and BASI ISTD Euan Gardiner and BASI ISTD’s Dave Norman, Bryan Hogg and Tristan Benwell and former ski racer and French BEES Jenny Yates.

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