Levels of instruction
Including course descriptions
[image - flow chart - to come: APSI Nordic Instructor flow-chart and recommended times of expected completion at each level of instruction]
What is an Instructor 1?
An Instructor 1 qualification is an introduction to the APSI Nordic system, at a non-professional level. Such a person is able to introduce the general public to Nordic skiing, and support fully-qualified instructors in the conduct of ski programs. This qualification ideally suits those who wish to undertake ski instruction in a limited, non-professional capacity, and is regarded as the initial stepping-stone towards an Instructor 2 course. Instructor 1's may also test for the SkiXC bronze and silver award levels, but not the gold award. Those wishing to teach professionally, ie., to gain income from teaching Nordic skiing, should successfully pass this course and the Instructor 2 course. The Instructor 1 qualification is not considered enough to lead or instruct groups in Nordic skiing, nor does it prepare one for teaching popular more-advanced techniques such as skating and telemarking.
NB. Having completed an Instructor 1 course (or overseas equivalent), a certificate will not be awarded until completion of two days of accreditation with an APSI Nordic Instructor 2 or 3 and successful assessment of teaching skills at an APSI Nordic Assessment Day. Once details of accreditation and assessment are ratified by the APSI Nordic Committee, an Instructor 1 certificate will be issued (see Appendix I for course outline).
Prerequisites of an Instructor 1 course
Each applicant must be at least 18 years of age at the start of the course for which they apply.
As a stronger emphasis is given to instruction methodologies, applicants are required to attend an Assessment Day as advertised in the APSI Nordic program, to demonstrate adequate technical ability in relevant ski techniques. Techniques to be tested include some of the following: diagonal stride, double-poling, herringbone up a moderate slope, step turns crossing the fall line on a gentle slope, snowplough glide and brake, snowplough turning, traverse downhill with kick turns on a steep slope, basic telemark turning to the left and right, and basic skating.
Upon completion of this assessment each candidate will be required to attend and successfully complete a two-day Instructor 1 Skills Clinic, unless exemption is granted on the basis of satisfactory ski skills performance.
Instructor 1 course content
The purpose of this three-day course is to bring the candidate up to the Instructor 1 level in all ways possible. The primary emphasis will be on teaching approaches and methods, yet skiing skills are also strengthened and consolidated in a series of practical sessions. Early-morning and late-evening sessions will be devoted to lecture topics and videos usage.
The topics and workshop sessions will cover aspects that an Instructor 1 should know about, and these lecturettes will form the major part of the indoor program. There is also the opportunity for candidates to discuss issues and ideas related to skiing both generally and specifically.
In addition there will be an introduction to Instructor 3 entry skiing techniques (see Appendix II). A multiple-choice exam will be given prior to the course, and continuous feedback on teaching and skiing skills will be provided during the course. Answers to the exam are discussed in detail prior to the end of the course. Evaluation of each candidate's teaching ability will take place and a recommendation made to attend a formal Assessment Day at a suitable time for teaching skills assessment. Two days of observing current Instructor 2's or Instructor 3's (Instructor 1 Accreditation) is also required following completion of the course.
What is an Instructor 2?
This is the qualification which the majority of Nordic Ski Instructors in Australia will have, and is regarded as a minimum level of competence to lead and instruct groups in the activity of recreational Nordic skiing. The function of an Instructor 2 is to instruct at a professional level of competence, to introduce the general public to Nordic skiing and provide intermediate levels of Nordic ski instruction, and to test for the SkiXC bronze, silver and gold award levels (see Appendix II for course outline).
Prerequisites of an Instructor 2 course
Each applicant must have taught for at least one season since gaining their Instructor 1 (or equivalent) Certificate, and be at least 20 years of age at the commencement of the course for which they apply.
No skiing skills test will be applied to any candidate. A two-day Pre-Instructor 2 Clinic is recommended to all, especially if the candidate wishes to make sure of their readiness for an Instructor 2 course.
Instructor 2 course content
The purpose of this five-day course is to take the candidate beyond the Instructor 1 level in all ways by expanding the knowledge gained previously. Both teaching, and skiing skills are to be broadened, strengthened, and consolidated.
All applicants will hopefully be trained to be able to demonstrate adequate technical and theoretical ability in a broad spectrum of relevant Nordic skiing techniques such as: diagonal stride, uphill diagonal stride, linked telemark turning, step turns crossing the fall line on a moderate slope, basic parallel turning, alternate-leg stride double-poling, half skate, diagonal skate, two skate, bumps, jumps, and dips.
As an ability to speak knowledgeably to an interested group, both formally and informally, is required at this level, 15-minute lecturettes will be assigned to each candidate: to be given to the group as a whole during the course.
The topics will cover aspects that an Instructor 2 should know about, and these lecturettes will form the major part of the evening lecture program. From the results of the exam given prior to the course, various topics will be chosen by the Course Director, with emphasis on group participation (as with all elements of this course).
In addition there will be an introduction to Instructor 3 entry skiing techniques.(see Appendix III. Continuous feedback on teaching and skiing skills will be provided during the course. Evaluation of each candidate's skiing and teaching ability will take place and a recommendation made to attend a formal Assessment Day at a suitable time for skiing and/or teaching skills assessment.
What is an Instructor 3?
The function of an Instructor 3 is to act as an ambassador of Nordic skiing specifically, and ski instruction generally. An Instructor 3I is expected to provide Nordic ski instruction at all levels of skill, and to instruct at an internationally accepted professional level of competence.
It is also expected that they will share their extensive knowledge with other Instructors, and support APSI Nordic's activities. They are able to test all SkiXC award levels (see Appendix III for course outline).
Prerequisites of an Instructor 3 course
Each applicant must have taught for at least two seasons since gaining their Instructor 2 (or equivalent) Certificate, and be at least 21 years of age at the commencement of the course for which they apply.
They must also have instructed with a wide variety of ski schools, community groups, commercial operators, clubs, and educational institutions for a minimum of 50 days (preferably over at least five seasons), and to have participated in at least five State, National, or International races. A resumé of the candidate's ski history/experience and logbook is to be posted to the Course Director at least two weeks prior to the off-snow component of the course. No skiing skills test will be applied to any candidate.
Instructor 3 course content
The two-day off-snow seminar begins with a closed-book pre-exam (mostly short answers), covering the following topics: waxing, equipment, history of skiing, snow structure and Avalanches, skills/techniques, weather, clothing, day-pack contents, instruction/lessons, racing/competition, navigation, emergency survival, overnight touring, and reference material/publications.
Discussions covering broader aspects of the Instructor 3 course follow, with a review of the exam papers and results. An assessed major presentation is designated to each candidate, to be prepared in time for the on-snow component (topic chosen is generally of candidate's weaker area). A further exam is to be taken home after the off-snow course, to be completed and posted to the Course Director at least 2 weeks prior to the on-snow component. Time is allotted for discussion of further topics, and especially the level of skiing skills required for the on-snow course: the objective of the off-snow component is to prepare the candidate for the on-snow course in all ways, and to produce an Instructor with an even breadth of knowledge.
The five-day on-snow course consists of a practical review of all techniques and teaching styles, with individual coaching/improvement sessions to balance strengths and weaknesses. Although specific techniques will be tested following the course, each candidate will have to show competence in the broadest sense - ie. an ability to perform all skills in an expert manner. It is accepted that some areas may be stronger than others, however the standard to be attained at the completion of the course is an all-round high level of ability.
The major presentation prepared by each candidate is to be presented to the other candidates of the combined Instructor 3/II Course, and further lectures are timetabled if and when required (to cover gaps in knowledge). Candidates will also be asked to give impromptu lecturettes on ski-related topics.
Continuous feedback on teaching, skiing and presentation/general knowledge skills will be given during the course. An assessment of presentation skills and general knowledge will be made at the completion of the course. Each candidate's skiing and teaching ability will be evaluated and a recommendation made to attend a formal Assessment Day at a suitable time for skiing and/or teaching skills assessment.
Trainers and assessment
The running of courses, and assessment of candidates skills, is carried out by NCIS Trainers. These instructors are, at present, drawn from the Instructor 2 and Instructor 3 pool.
NCIS Trainers are expected to attend a seminar prior to each winter to express their interest in working for APSI Nordic, and to discuss course structures and examination issues. A long-term aim of the NCIS is to draw exclusively from the Instructor 3 pool, however there are too few instructors active at this level to achieve this at present. Due to the nature of Nordic ski instruction, there is a reasonable turnover of APSI Nordic Trainers, therefore any Instructor 2 or 3 who wishes to be actively involved in this area is encouraged to approach the National Co-ordinator or the APSI Nordic Technical Director. If the applicant is considered suitable, and if there is a vacancy for further Trainers, the Trainers Panel will invite the applicant to attend the next assessment or seminar.
Each course is controlled by the Course Director, with assistance from other APSI Nordic staff when required (most courses have a minimum of two staff). The NCIS Director, in conjunction with the National Co-ordinator, is responsible for the appointment of staff to NCIS courses, subject to ratification from the Trainers Panel.
Assessment of candidates is carried out by Trainers under the direction of a Chief Examiner, with possible assistance from a 'go-between' (an independent Trainer not involved with the marking). acting as a guide, interpreter and assistant to the candidates.
A sample marking sheet is shown below:
[image to come: An example marking sheet used by Trainers]
Each candidate is required to score at least an average overall mark equivalent to that of the standard being assessed. When assessing technical ability, up to eight skills (half flat, half slope techniques) will be chosen from the list shown in the course outlines (see Appendix I, II, and III) to suit the conditions on the day of assessment. If one skill is not considered a pass, it is possible to bring the mark up by performing well in another skill (note that this is not possible at Instructor 3 level - at which the candidate must have equally good skills all round). If, in the final summation of all marks by all examiners, a candidate is considered a borderline case, then a general discussion is held by the examiners to determine the outcome. The same applies for teaching ability marks also.
Teaching ability is assessed by observing up to two classes given by the candidate, chosen at random by the Course Director the day prior to the assessment. Examiners will observe the lesson until they can justify a mark in each of the eight segments, although not necessarily in the order shown on the card itself. If, after a reasonable period of time, the assessor is not able to place a mark in one or more of the nine segments, that candidate will receive a '1' in those boxes concerned.
The overall pass mark may be adjusted (to a lower number) by the examiners following consultation after all examining is completed, but before marks are added together, to suit the local terrain, weather, and snow conditions (generally to assist the candidates' results).
Candidates will be verbally debriefed and advised of the results as soon as is practicable after the final assessment. Results will remain confidential, and the marks apportioned are not to be used as an overall indication of performance, but rather as comparative values for each candidate, to enable them to work on strengthening their weaker areas of performance. For example, a mark of 105 will be meaningless outside the context of the assessment period, although individual marks and recorded comments made by the assessors may help the candidate to understand his or her strengths and weaknesses (if any).
The APSI Nordic structure
[This section is now outdated, and requires review] APSI Nordic is responsible for the training and grading of Nordic ski instructors and coaches, and the administration is carried out by a committee, under the leadership of an elected Director.
Records of all graduates from NCIS and APSI Nordic courses, since its inception in the late 1970s, are maintained and updated on computer, and from these records certificates and badges are issued.
A funded part-time National Co-ordinator is appointed to administer Instructor activities in the various States, and is thus responsible for the setting up of courses, clinics, and testing days. The rest of the APSI Nordic Committee operates on a voluntary basis - payments are only made to Course Directors and Trainers (examiners). Coaching courses and activities are organised by the National Coaching Director, who is part of the APSI Nordic Committee. For more details of Coaching courses, refer to the current APSI Nordic Program brochure, or for further detail, the APSI Nordic Coaching Manual.
The APSI Nordic Committee comprises representatives from all levels of Instructor and Coach grading, and is elected every year by all accredited APSI Nordic graduates. Any vacancies created by resignation, etc. are put up for re-election. The committee meets on a regular basis to discuss all aspects of APSI Nordic activities, and to co-ordinate their activities with other skiing organisations. The official communication medium used by APSI Nordic is presently the Ski Australia X-C Newsletter, which is distributed four times per year to current subscribers.
Instructor course content, structure, manuals, pass standards, overseas accreditation, and clinics are the responsibility of the APSI Nordic Technical Trainers Panel. Members of the Trainers Panel (at present, only current Instructor 2's and Instructor 3's are eligible) are appointed by the NCIS Technical Director, at the recommendation of the Trainers Panel. Trainee Trainers are appointed upon recommendation from the Trainers Panel. See 'Trainers (examiners), and assessment' preceding this section.
APSI Nordic is a totally self-funded organisation - income is derived only from courses and membership fees. Expenditure is primarily in the form of the National Co-ordinator's honorarium, and administrative costs, but major items of expenditure (e.g. 4-yearly attendance at Interski, manual, certificate, and badge production) are also budgeted for in the longer term.
For further details, refer to Appendix IV (APSI Nordic rules and regulations).
Interski and the ISIA
Interski is a forum designed to assist the interchange of teaching ideas and ski techniques throughout the world of both Alpine skiing and Nordic ski instruction methods. The meeting of the forum is held every four years and organised for the benefit of member nations of the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA).
By 1997, fifteen Interski congresses have been held. At the 1991 congress held in Austria, over 7000 ski instructors spent more than two weeks discussing new ideas, watching each other ski, holding workshops, and socialising. It is predominantly Alpine ski instruction that takes the front row, but every year Nordic skiing is taking a larger and larger share. Many nations are represented at Interski, and twenty-four are allowed to demonstrate their ability to ski well in a synchronised display in front of the large crowds. To be on an Interski demonstration team is considered the greatest achievement in many ski nations.
ISIA was formed after the first Interski, and is a regular contributor to this event. Around thirty nations are represented at yearly ISIA meetings, and they have a representative amount of votes on various issues, depending upon the number of highest qualified instructors that they have. Each group of 500 instructors scores one vote - most countries have the minimum one vote, whilst some have up to twelve.
The main function of the ISIA is to act as a platform for skiing nations to exchange ideas, discus common problems, and standardise and develop ski techniques. It also is used to establish links across the skiing world, and to protect the interests of and lend credibility to top-level ski instructors generally.
Historically, Alpine matters have been dominant throughout most conferences held, with Nordic skiing taking a back seat - this has been a result of the influence of the 'big four' ski nations: France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. This is changing slowly as Nordic skiing is beginning to develop more rapidly in these and other nations.
The ISIA have a Constitution, made up of a number of by-laws. One of these by-laws is that only one instructor organisation is allowed to represent each country. In Australia that organisation is the Australian Professional Ski Instructors Inc. (APSI). The APSI is a predominantly Alpine ski instruction organisation, and has had loose ties with the NCIS. As it is the representative body for ski instructors in Australia, it is responsible for the issuing of ISIA stamps to the highest-qualified Instructors. We as Nordic ski instructors are able to join the APSI for a yearly fee, and will be granted equivalent accreditation.
Moves were underway to unite the two ski instruction bodies in Australia (APSI and the NCIS) - and this was completed in 2003.
©2013 Ivan Trundle
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