1998 PSIA-E Region Four Meeting Minutes

Exam changes
Need volunteers for ski shows
New snowboard manual coming
Snowboard ITC held Stratton same time as Mount Snow Alpine ITC
PSIA-E elections this year

The annual Region 4 northern meeting was held on Sunday September 13, 1998 from 1:30-6:00. Bill Hetrick led off the session with a review of how our organization is doing. The national PSIA organization has 27,000 members in 9 divisions. The PSIA-E divisions expected to exceed 11,000 members this year. Region 4 has 3,600 members. The retention rate is 97.1% for level 3, 95.6% for level 2 and 86.3% for level 1 members, with slightly lower retention rates for the Nordic and snowboard disciplines. The board of directors is concerned about the "low" retention rate for level 1 instructors. They are interested in improving the retention rate. A survey they conducted of people who have left PSIA revealed that 39% left for financial reasons, 27% stopped teaching, 16% felt the costs where not worth the benefits and 7% transferred to other divisions. Ed Miller from Blue Knob reported that they require all of their instructors to be Level 1 certified before they can teach (for insurance reasons). The PSIA-E budget is in great shape. The annual budget is running about $1.6 million, with about 1/2 spent on events. There has been no dues increase in 4 years and no current need for one. PSIA-E recently expanded their Albany headquarters to the house next door. The two houses are wholly owned by PSIA-E and represent about $333,000 of asset value to the organization. Other assets include about $100,000 in investments. Action plans are funded at about $30,000 to $40,000 per year. These plans are for media events, brochures, posters, etc.

Bob Shostek reported on the PSIA-E Education Foundation. The EF is the "marketing arm" of PSIA-E. They provide several scholarship funds for instructors to attend different kinds of PSIA-E events. Bob emphasized that scholarship requests need to be submitted by 11/1 and that you also needed to be signed up for the event that you request assistance for. They also promote PSIA to the public and other portions of the ski industry via brochures,  attendance at ski shows and speaking engagements. EF funding comes mainly from voluntary add on dues and event fees. Cherisse Rabl is the new director (replacing Gwen Allard (who has retired and is now doing adaptive at Windham). Current activities include Sue Spencer and Kim Seevers making a ski board presentation at the upcoming Eastern Ski Writers Association meeting. At the Princeton sports show in New York the EF has arranged for board members to help Princeton sell equipment at the show in exchange for free booth space for PSIA. PSIA is looking for volunteers to help man the PSIA booth at many of the ski shows they will be present at this year (Call or email Charise to volunteer). There was some discussion about American Ski Company's "Discovery Center" concept. The center focuses on improving the quality of the "first time experience". First timers have their own cafeteria and rental areas. The lesson approach focuses more on experience than direct instruction technique. A new version of GLM will be used (they are still considering a different name to avoid negative connotations of the old graduated length method. The "mountains of distinction" group is also involved (they are a group of small Massachusetts mountains.

Regarding exams, Bob reported that the pass rate for level 1 was >90% last year. The focus for level 1 exams will be to make them more experiential and to keep the exam portion of the event to less than 5% of the focus. Of the 411 Level 2 and retake exam participants, 231 passed (53%). Of the 176 that flunked, only 89 were eligible for the retake. The biggest reason for not passing was lack of experience (versus lack of preparation). Most non passers had passed level 1 the previous year. As a result, this year's prep clinics will have a soft focus on skiing and increased focus on experiential sessions. This year the retake format will have only one examiner (instead of three). This is the last year that retakes will be offered for those who did not pass the professional knowledge or teaching portions of the Level 2 exam. Also new this year is if someone flunks the written exam, but passes the on hill professional knowledge and teaching, then they will be allowed to retake the written exam (only). Written exam retakes will be offered at Liberty on 2/1 and Beech on 2/7, but may also be taken at any time at the Albany office or at Stratton. Level 3 exams had a 41% pass rate on Part 1 exams and a similar rate for part 2. Failures for part 2 were mostly due to a lack of upper level teaching experience.

Bob also mentioned that Kim Seevers new "3D" training system will be mailed to each ski school shortly. A draft was available for review at the meeting. Another miscellaneous item was a mention of Stratton's new Education Center. This is an attempt to develop an alternative to examinations for certifying ski teacher preparation.

Bill Cox (our Southern counterpart) spoke briefly about golf event coming next spring (to help raise EF funds), PSIA/NSAA cooperation on snowboard park design and the benefits of the PSIA and PSIA-E web sites.

There were 5 breakout sessions:
Certification (Mac Jackson)
Ski School Management (Ed Miller)
Children's (Robin Reed) (Sandra Odiorne has retired from the Children's committee)
Snowboard (Craig Hockenbury)
Web site (Robert ?)

Mac Jackson reported that 4/1 - 4/2 will be the Eastern "demo team" tryout. Mac also presented several recommendations for changes to the certification process including a desire to make certification a validation of education (as opposed to the focus on passing a test).

Robin reported that there will be two Children's Academies this year. The first is from 12/15 - 12/17 at Stratton. Adrian Cook will be introducing his flexibility exercises. Greg Hoffman will present on the last day to discuss the impact of boot fitting on movement and flexibility. The second academy will be held at 7 Springs from 12/18-12/20. Robin also discussed the new ACE team (Advanced Children's Educators). This team will be holding 6 1 day events with different focuses (cost =$50). Robin reported that Ski magazine has dropped the "Ski Wee" franchise, but that resorts can continue to use the Ski Wee name and materials. The program is no longer organized or affiliated with Ski magazine.

Craig reported that a new AASI snowboard manual is due out this year. The style will be similar to the snowboard section in last year's children's manual. The approach shifts from skill based to movement based. This year's snowboard ITC will be held at Stratton (around the corner from Mount Snow) DURING the Alpine ITC at Mount Snow. This will allow expansion for up to 90 riders to attend. There are now 6-7 examiners and more coming through development. Craig emphasized more riders are needed for teaching children and that riders are encouraged to attend children's events. The Pro Rider magazine is looking for more articles. There was some discussion about the value of PSIA/AASI becoming more involved in packaging advice on park design for snowboard instructors/resorts. Current areas of concern include how to educate guests on proper use of snowboard parks and whether ski boards should be allowed in parks. Craig mentioned that snowboard instructor staffing is a problem. Mount Snow is considering increasing pay rates for experienced snowboard pros (looking at hiring 100 this year versus 50 last year). Snowboard education credits can be used for Alpine continuing education credits as long as Alpine (i.e. same discipline) credits are earned every 4 years. Craig recommended a new snowboard book by Lowell Hart.

Ed Miller offered a suggestion that Level 1 dues be moved to being due in November. This would help the finances for those not focused on skiing in June when the dues are currently due. Ed mentioned that the management committees reviewing pro courtesy policies (i.e. rule for skiing at other areas). Ed noted that pro compensation is a concern. There is a big pay differential between large and small mountains. Management is still concerned about reducing pro form abuse. There are interested in producing a film of Level 1 skiers (or instructors?). Management is supporting the push to have the public request PSIA certified instructors, but does not want to see the publication of the differences between level 1, 2, and 3 instructors. It was noted that many sources are specifically recommending level 3 instructors.

Robert followed up with web site recommendations including having the Albany staff read their email on a regular basis, adding more forum topics and people to help facilitate forum discussions, posting event information online and allowing event registration online, facilitating text only browsers, adding PSIA ski school links, adding ski school classified ads to the web and adding real time internet chat capability.

Bill Hetrick concluded the session by reminding us that this is a PSIA election year. The new bylaw changes prohibiting PSIA employees from monopolizing board seats (which was implemented with only 39 positive opinions and no negative comments), means that now is the best time to get involved (i.e. easy to get elected). Board membership means two 2 day meetings per year and about an hour per week otherwise with activity focused in spring and fall. Bill will no longer be coordinating in house events from home - call the office instead. The PST was mailed 9/1 - it should be arriving soon.

41 people from 20 areas attended the meeting. Whitetail attendees were Angelo Tutsi, Darwin Martin, Lloyd Mueller, Brian Williams and Rusty Carr.

These notes are the sole effort of Rusty Carr. Any resemblance of these notes to what was actually said is pure coincidence (grin).