Next year’s demo team for PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors Association) will include two telemark skiers. This is a first in the history of PSIA, not merely because there is the inclusion of a telemark skier to the ranks of the PSIA demo team, but there will be two: Keith Rodney and Jim Shaw. Telemark Skier caught up with Scotty McGee to find out the importance of this news. Scotty is a long time member of PSIA and promoter of all things nordic, not only the telemark turn but the full range of cross-country skiing as well.
Telemark Skier: What is the idea behind the Telemark national demo team?
Scotty McGee: PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) and now AASI (for Snowboard) have selected and supported national educational teams since the early 70’s. The teams travel to deliver on-snow snowsports instructor training and guide the development of educational curriculum for the national association, such as new technical and teaching manuals, magazine articles, video content, and more and more webinars and online content. The Team also represents the association at Interski, a quadrennial idea-sharing event at locations that countries/host areas vie for like the Olympics. Interski used to be more of a demonstration event (think competitive synchro skiing), but has moved more toward a symposium format with indoor and on-snow presentations by demo teams from various countries. At the last Interski, in Bulgaria in 2019, there were about 17 countries, and about 40 telemarkers.
TS: Who can try out for the demo team?
SM: To try out for the team, you have to be a Level 3 certified Tele instructor and have clinic leader/trainer/examiner experience. Successful candidates for the 4-year term have excellent presentation skills, strong technical understanding, masterful teaching/training abilities and of course, inspirational skiing for a variety of conditions and styles.
TS: How do you determine whether a candidate is fit for this position? What does the process look like for selection in the demo team?
SM: Tryouts included a typical application packet, an indoor zoom presentation and a 3-day grueling tryout. The recent tryouts began with scored skiing ‘tasks’ like Medium Radius GS turns, Short radius carvy turns with a jump initiation in off-piste conditions, dead stop turns, and Medium radius basic telemark turns in blue/black moguls. The Tasks are designed to highlight skill blending abilities, and to discern versatility and application of skills to terrain. The second part of the tryout involved a solo presentation of a technical topic to an audience of instructors. Teaching skills, group management, customizing feedback and tailoring the delivery of the learning segment were all scored. The next day included a team teaching segment with applicants for some of the other disciplines’ demo teams. Movement analysis of three skiers was scored, and then each candidate reviewed the Zoom recording of another’s video, and gave a critique of another’s MA. Scores were compiled and all application and performances were taken into account, and the new team was announced on April 22.
TS: How many people make up the demo team?
SM: The number was ‘floating’ but it was likely to be one coach plus 1 or 2 team members. It says a lot about the association, and how they value Tele and the ‘alternate’ disciplines that they committed to have 2 telemarkers on the national team at this time.
TS: What is the responsibility of this team and its members?
SM: This team will guide development of educational content over the next few years, promote Tele and Tele instruction, and refine Tele certification. One example of this is implementation of new ‘Fundamentals’ of People Skills, Teaching Skills and Tele Skills. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the Tele Fundamentals share all of the Fundamentals for Alpine skiing, with the addition of one: Lead Change, the movement allowed by our free heel that is the movement from one Tele stance to the next, and which interacts with each of the other fundamentals in ways unique to Telemark. It’s things like these that the PSIA Team will be helping to bring to life, and to light, for instructors and for the Tele’ing (and not yet Tele’ing) public.