2004 Spring Rally/PSIA-E Annual Membership Meeting

March 27-28, 2004 at Killington, VT

Spring skiing and riding at its finest! The Rusty attended this PSIA-E/AASI-E 2 day clinic for the first time. It looked like there were about 200 alpine skiers and 15 snowboard riders attended this event. The meeting room on the second floor of the Snowshed lodge seemed almost as full as the Pro Jam event! New for the event this year was the under-15 participation. 47 kids under 15 attended the event! At registration we got the same Pro Jam ditty bag complete with Stuntwax, Red Bull and a Cliff Bar. With the large number of adult skiers, they had a wide range of choices for group focus ranging from "hot, hot, hot" to "5-10 days on snow this season and take it easy" (but no exam prep groups). Rusty's choice as a rider was either the fast beat the bumps all day group or the "other" group. 

Since Saturday was warm and Rusty was over dressed, he chose the "other" group. John Hobbs (Killington) was our clinic leader. The group members were:
Eric Bucher
Dave Lusignan
Gary and Nicole Burnett - 
Tim Hodson - Middlebury, VT
Jean Murtagh - not working this season?
Rusty Carr - Whitetail, PA

The first tip we picked up was to carry a few plastic zipties in your pocket. They are very useful for emergency binding strap repair. Rusty's tip is you can buy big huge bundles of zipties at Home Depot, cheap. The only problems with this tip are that the repairee will need a knife to get out of their binding and zipping your back foot and riding a gondola could go through ties pretty quickly.

The big request from the group was to do 180s. John noted that riding switch comfortably was a prerequisite for successful 180s.  John mentioned that the "cowboy" stance was helpful for riding switch because it helped add pressure to the tips and the tails by weighting on the outside of the feet. John was of the opinion that a duck stance did not make riding switch "necessarily" easier. Rusty rides duck specifically to make switch riding easier, but understands that the effect is specific to ones physiology and that stance in and of itself is a very small piece of switch riding.

Next we had to get the terminology straight. A frontside spin is where you turn your front forward. For normal riders this is counter clockwise. For goofies, this is clockwise. John says this is the easiest direction to do 180s because you can see where you are going/landing. Another factor is whether the front of the board is rotating down the hill (easier) or uphill (harder). For normal riders, a frontside spin off the toe edge would be easiest. John's tip for normal, frontside spins off the heel (with the nose of the board going uphill) was to twist the body before take off and focus on lifting the board at takeoff so that the board can clear the uphill snow. We found the 180s a little hard to do in the soft snow, so John suggested doing nose rolls first. One thing that Rusty found was critical to getting comfortable was the feeling of "snapping" the rotation. Doing nose rolls helped to develop the snappy rotation. 

As we took the 180 concept from the groomed runs to the terrain park, we started a progression to get comfortable in the park. Start by riding over the jumps to check them out, then do a little hop on the second run to check the takeoffs, then go for it on the third run. John talked about the AASI "ATML" terminology: Approach, Takeoff, Maneuver and Landing. We reviewed how a vertical take off from a flat board was crucial for a successful landing. Taking off on edge would tend to induce a non-vertical launch and thus cause a non-vertical/non-successful landing. John also noted that using the sides of the jumps helped to let one choose the size of the jump one wanted to make instead of being forced to clear an entire table.

John stumped us all with the question about the difference between upper level riders getting on edge above the fall line and lower level riders making turns in the fall line. How do we do it? John specifically asked us what one "one thing" would need to do to change edges while making a slide slip. Rusty had a tough time with this question when focusing on the board performance aspect and came up with "rotary". The answer was "the board must be going in the direction of travel (of the center of mass) before one can successfully change edge". Of course that was received with a "duh" response. Rusty had heard this before, but this time it did provoke some insightful ideas for teaching beginners:
- to teach beginners about edge changing in addition to getting onto an edge
- to focus more on getting flat board riders to increase their edge angles instead of just letting them ride
- to make a point to tell those who learn in soft snow conditions (and are starting turns in the fall line) about future adjustments they will need to make when the snow is harder or the pitch is steeper.

At the end of the day, Rusty noted a ton of dirt on his board. Next time he will bring his citrus wax remover to facilitate cleaning. However, skidding over "firm snow" the next morning did a passable cleaning job. One common 

Saturday night started with a quick trip to the Red Rob Inn to watch the "Icy Nuts", Killington's own instructor band. Next up was the cocktail hour and the banquet at the Grand Summit Hotel. Several prizes were given away in a raffle which raised $1140 for the PSIA-EF. Rumor has it there was post banquet partying going on, but Rusty went to bed early instead.

Sunday morning was the PSIA-E annual membership meeting. Although there was only about 5 people there for the 8AM start of the meeting, we eventually got up to about 20 attendees. The big topic of discussion was the new Region 7. This has a big impact on a lot of Rusty's Whitetail friends because all PSIA members who live below the Mason Dixon line will default to the new Region 7 UNLESS they notify the office they want to belong to the region where they work (Region 4). This is not a huge difference in which region your are in though. The only differences Rusty could determine are who you get to vote for, if you wanted to run for office, or which meeting location you wanted to drive to. Rusty figures that Region 4 meetings are going to be a closer drive. Bill Cox (Wisp) ( a snowboarder!) and Steve Kling (Liberty) were elected as the new reps for Region 7. Bill Beerman also talked initiatives that were being worked on. In addition to reviewing the strategic plan, there's still a lot of work for the 15 below initiative. Little things like clinic leaders needing background checks in some states and other labor law issues. He explained that PSIA-E has converted all their back end office computer applications to run on the same stuff that national is using. They are entering event applications online and looking at eventually opening it up so that members can register for events online. Finally, it was let out that there's a new name for the "master organization" that has "snowsports" in the name (Rusty forgot to write down what it was) that is discipline neutral. However, PSIA and AASI will still be used as "brand" names. It's just that AASI won't be a step child offshoot of PSIA anymore. Rusty hopes everyone feels better now.

Kim Seevers reported on educational events. January attendance was down due to the cold weather, but events were slammed in March. New member numbers look good. Although the new freeride park and pipe clinics were well attended the first go around, the advanced sessions were not. The initial thinking was that people learned enough in the first session to determine they were not ready for the advanced version. Kim talked about a new special program with a camp to work on aerial stuff including water jumps at Lake Placid. Kim talked about how tough it is to get ski area management attention at industry events and the great results that we got from the Plus One Showcase (link has been removed) event we held. This is an snow event on beginner rental gear for a mix of pros, employees, patrol, rental people and management that is designed to get our message across about what rental shops and ski area management can do to improve the beginner experience. We may do this again because of great participation and feedback.

Ray Allard talked about all the cool stuff coming out from national. There are new manuals for adaptive, snowboard movement analysis and new ones coming for nordic this spring and summer. The park and pipe task force has been busy. Their results are being posted on the national web site and a new manual is coming from them too. Log in and check out the visual cues and the half pipe goal sheet. Cool stuff. There's also supposed to be a new posting of tips for parent of kids who are learning to ski, but Rusty could not find it. Ray mentioned about the new demo team coaches and that for the first time that there is an adaptive team member. Ray reminded us about the Suburu deal as a great deal (Rusty tried to do a Suburu deal this year but was not impressed). Mark Dorsi has been hired as a new assistant director of PSIA/NSP.

The budget $ are ok for this year. Since membership has been flat for the last 3 years as opposed to the historic 10-15% growth rate, there's been some concern here. Especially after the dues increases. The powers that be have been working on the membership plan and working on developing more partnerships with school schools (not ski schools). There's an interest in working more with manufacturers to improve beginner level equipment.

Michael Mendrick noted that although PSIA-EF funds are up due to successful raffles (over $5K this season), scholarship applications are down. That's a BIG HUGE GIANT hint to people complaining about the cost of events. The 15+ club has been a huge success beyond expectations. 136 kids are signed up vs 50 expected. If you're wondering about the last dues increase, consider that liability insurance has risen from $16K to $44K in the last 2 years.

Michael did leave some time for questions. The first one was from Chickie Rosenberg's spokesperson. Chickie has authored a book about snowboarding for women and has been speaking twice a week to anyone and their grandmother. She's offered to coordinate with PSIA-E but got no response. The answer was to discuss with Mike offline. Rusty asked about the new division thing (answer reported above). There's a new ski specific exercise program at Killington that has been successful. Will we see more of it throughout the East? Probably - but no specifics. When will see online registrations? Michael would like to see this for next season, but the challenge of getting the inventory/availability piece online is daunting (Rusty translates this as look for it in the 2006-7 season). Offline, Rusty also asked about getting reference video clips online. Michael seemed open to the concept but expressed worry about clip quality and bandwidth issues. Rusty offered his web site and promised to follow up (right after he finishes this write up?).

Sunday morning we hung around the race area and then worked our way towards the 1/2 pipe. Gary and Nicole skipped the Hannes Schneider slalom race (that would of been wicked on a board), but came in first and second in the GS spring rally race (being the only 2 riders competing). We all got to ride the race poma on our snowboards. Poma riding tips included keeping your back foot in, getting a running start/keeping the tension at take off, and holding the disk under your back armpit or between your legs. When the poma track rolled, it was important to skid to maintain tension versus riding faster than the cable then getting jerked when it caught up. When the poma stopped, Rusty switched to the between the legs position because the armpit thing was quite tiring. He's glad we decided to bail off the lift before it restarted with that thing between his legs and mud being nearby.

It seems a couple members of the group had never been in a pipe before. So we reviewed the basic intro to 1/2 pipe: etiquette, mechanics, making turns on the wall, etc. John urged us to drop in on toe side as the easiest starting point, but since this lead one straight into the icy wall, Rusty had to try a heel side drop to go for the "mush" wall. Since Rusty lost all his speed in the soft snow, he was urged to pump in the transition to keep his speed up. Hmm - maybe I'll get it next year. In the bar on Saturday night, Dave Lynch was talking about how much strength it took to absorb the compression forces going up the wall without collapsing the legs. Hmm - Rusty's leg are pretty strong - but that did not seem to help either... A couple group members did actually try the 180 move in the pipe with good success.

Part of our teaching discussion during the day focused on the role of board twist in beginner riding. John was saying that there's less conscious effort to twist in upper level riding. It happens naturally as a result of the flex in the board and thus there's no need to try to get more. Rusty had a side conversation with Mike Sites about this earlier in the season. Mike had said just forget all about board twist in our personal riding. Rusty is reserving judgment. He's seen some positive results to get Whitetail staff to edge more above the fall line when using more board twist, but tends to back off conscious effort naturally for his personal riding. But there appears to be a good argument for teaching beginners to rely primarily on board twist to initiate turns out of the fall line. Rusty is going to try this next season.

As the afternoon wore on, the moguls were in primo condition. Rusty even worked on his switch bump riding a bit. John taught us a move to press the tail of the board on the bump face to kill speed, then kick the front around and down to line up the nose of the board on the new edge on the back side of the mogul as a method for controlling speed. That took a little practice to nail down. It helped a few members of the group quite a bit, but was overkill for Rusty riding on the easy blue bumps.

At the end of the day, the two riding groups joined up for a jib off competition (aka stupid flat board tricks). We split up into three teams and played the snowboard equivalent of horse. One team member would do a trick and the other teams would have to match it or get a letter (J-I-B). We did frontside 180s, tail grabs, worm turns, nose rolls, whirly birds and tail rolls. Winners received a cool AASI drinking glass. Rusty recommends filling them with Long Trail Double Bag (7.5% alcohol, available in the upstairs bar). Speaking of the upstairs bar, there's a little known outdoor area that's great for after hours libations during the springtime.

All in all, for a slow paced two day clinic in the spring, this event was perfect. For our group, it seemed like there was very little "instruction" or personal feedback going on, but people got exactly what they asked for and everyone was riding much better at the end then when they started and we got some great teaching tips to boot. The weather cooperated (warm, but not oppressively hot and no rain). The thin spots were manageable and the snow was soft, but not ridiculously mushy.