Ny name is Jake Jacobson, I patrol at King Pine Resort in Madison, NH.  As a Ski and Toboggan “Trainer-Evaluator” for National Ski Patrol, I have found that the program excels at the Toboggan training aspect but has always lagged behind in the Skiing aspect of instruction. This troubles me because the two portions of the program have equal weight in testing scenarios as well as from a practical holistic standpoint.

The essential skills and objectives that we test in both portions — Skiing and Toboggan Handling — BOTH rely on: effective edge control, pressure management, rotary movement control and directing the center of mass while moving forward over the base of support.  Whether we are doing long, medium, or short radius turns or effectively controlling a sled or tail-rope with snowplow, sideslip or transition maneuvers; the movements and the skills are exactly the same.

In my opinion, an Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET) Instructor needs to be a “SKI” instructor first and a Toboggan instructor second in order to successfully help students progress to competence and mastery of ALL of our alpine program objectives.  With that said, I attended an NSP sanctioned Ski Trainer’s Workshop hosted by Waterville Valley who provided us with an all day instructor training event run by their own ski school’s Technical Director, Kathy Brennan:

Semi annually, Kathy Brennan is and has been an incredibly valuable asset to the NH OET Program. I’ve skied with her on multiple occasions over the years in Skier Enhancement Clinics and have always come away with new teaching tools for my teaching tool-box and a new approach to my personal skiing.  These occasional clinics have consistently resulted in more effective and enjoyable ski performance.  This event was no exception!

…In addition, at this level of instruction where Kathy is able to clinic NSP Instructors, she was able to give us all a focused progression through the latest PSIA Skiing Fundamentals introduced in their newly published “Alpine Technical Manual.”  Teaching to the fundamentals was Kathy Brennan’s objective. It was meant to coax improvement out of all of us while keeping the conversation open toward applying our new knowledge and experience for correcting and refining our existing teaching techniques.

She pushed us hard from 8:15 to 3:45 and got her intended results while identifying and meeting all of our objectives!  All of this happened in an approachable, enjoyable, and logical progression, by an expert who trains PSIA Instructors working at NH’s biggest ski resorts.

Suffice it to say, that by day’s end, enough eye-opening “WOW” factor was experienced that my brains exploded.  I have definitely joined the Kathy Brennan “Fan Club.”  A marked improvement was seen in ALL members of the NH Region OET Staff in attendance, making this the most advanced group of skiers I have ever had the pleasure to  clinic with!

…And yes, new skiing muscle groups were found, I’m sure I’ll be sore recovering from a great lesson. This event should not only be held annually — it should be REQUIRED for anyone representing NSP in an OET Instructor capacity.

Editor’s Side Note: Any member of the New Hampshire Region Ski Patrol has the opportunity to attend a full day clinic with Kathy Brennan at Waterville Valley.  Every season, NH Region offers a Skiing Enhancement event on the last Sunday of January.  Watch the NH Region CALENDAR page for sign-up details, because this event fills up early.