Monday, March 21, 2011

Sugarbush PSIA Exam (Day 2)

I made it. I am now a PSIA Level 3 Certified Skier in Telemark Skiing (and Alpine, which I did in 2008).

I have to say, after going through several other exams in my 10 year ski instructing career, I thought I would feel the same way after this test as I did after my Level 3 Alpine exam.  But I felt completely different.  It was weird, really.  On my Alpine exams, and earlier Tele exams, I almost felt entitled to the pins (pins being the awards given out in PSIA - Bronze for Level 1, Silver for Level 2, and Gold for Level 3).  Maybe "entitled" isn't the right word, but I felt as if I was skiing and teaching at a ridiculously high level, and that I deserved everything that I was getting and more. I was actually waiting for them to just dispense with the formalities and start promoting me to higher and higher posts in the organization simply because of my awesomeness.

Okay, maybe I wasn't that crazy about it, but I did have a certain attitude about everything.  On Sunday, it was completely different.  After the exam, I skied an extra run and started talking about how I've changed as an instructor and as a person.  Instead of arguing one side to the death, I've started trying to see the other side.  Instead of taking issue, I've started letting things slide.  Instead of making definitive statements, I've started to ask more questions.  Maybe it's partly because I'm getting older and wiser, or maybe it's because of experiences like the one I had on Sunday.

In addition to the two Level 3 candidates in my group, there were three candidates for the Development Team (above Level 3 and at the point where they would be instructing other instructors). Over the course of the two days, each was able to affect my skiing in a positive way.  If I hadn't been open to their teaching, I never would have had the breakthroughs that I had.  Whether it was driving my lead leg around the bottom of a bump, matching my hands to the pitch of the hill more, or slowing everything down to really feel my releasing movements, every one of the Dev Team candidates helped my tele technique.

But that's not the only reason that I felt different this time around.  The Nordic PSIA examiners are a little more . . . umm . . . expressive than the Alpine Examiners.  I feel like they wear their heart on their sleeve a little bit more.  They really want you to do well.  And you end up wanting to do well not just for yourself, but for all of those guys (who've helped you get there).  When they finally read my name and I looked at Mark and Mickey, I felt something that was a far cry from the feeling I had when I got my Alpine level 3. It was a feeling that can only come after you've been built up, knocked down, and built back up again.  A feeling that doesn't say "It's about time", but instead shows what all of their time was about. A feeling that seems to be increasingly rare (but desperately needed) in the world today:



  1. Blue Toes wants to know: "when are you becoming a motivational speaker?"

    A beautifully written post and I think you have captured the fundamental core of telemark skiing: it is so much fun and everybody wants to do the best turn they can do.

  2. Excellent how does it feel when the lightbulb goes on!?
    Glad you had such a positive experience!

  3. Sorry if you've covered this already, but which have you been doing longer: alpine or tele?

  4. Welcome my son to the machine! Seriously Matt congrats. One thing I love about blogging, you've got this entry to re-read anytime you want to relive the experience and remember the feeling. Woohoo!

  5. James, I've been Alpine skiing since I was 5, and Tele skiing since I was 18.

  6. Congrats Matt. Any bonus point for a 360 on telemark skis? ;)

    Forgive my ignorance, but is Level 3 the highest level for the PSIA?