TE Training Yields Better Instructors, “OP-ED”

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.

Great “Toboggan Enhancement” at King Pine

What a marvelous day we had at King Pine in Madison NH on Sunday January 29th 2017!  The weather was PERFECT, sun, clouds, warm temps and no wind.

Jake Jacobsen and I, as Region TE’s, were Lead Instructors for two groups participating in the Toboggan Clinic.  Almost all the participants came from the King Pine Patrol, and one registered from outside.  John Riley (NH Region ATI) along with two ATI candidates, contributing as Instructors, provided great feedback and demonstration of skills for our students.

We all started out as one large group for a few ski runs to warm up and perform some basic ski patroller skills, which gave us a good indicator for group divisions. We began the morinng by focusing on productive and terrain appropriate drills including snowplow, side slip, transition and crud run route selection.  This got us ready to move to toboggan operation.

With empty sled runs we concentrated on creating smooth sled following results.  The goal for each student was to try using skidded turns in a narrow track called short-swing turns.  Not only did the students feel excellent speed control, it also skied the toboggan with very little rear sled wash-out.  This proved to be very evident when demonstrated by our Instructors,  Everyone’s proficiency improved with a better understanding of the benefits after seeing the demonstration, then getting a chance to practice with NH Region Instructors coaching the skills.

Loaded sleds were worked on steep groomed and somewhat icy trails before venturing into the big and interestingly textured bumps on steeper terrain.  My group was afforded several runs for each student.  The group tried all positions, including outside the handles and alternating to the tail rope.  Students made good improvement and uplifted confidence from early morning to our eventual conclusion by 2:30 PM.

I had the opportunity to observe Jake’s larger group working on the same terrain and noticed that even though the tasks at hand may have been originally daunting for some, by their second or third run I could only see huge smiles and enlightenment on the students’ faces. The elevation of skills for the participants in this clinic was obvious and substantial.

Thanks to our talented Instructors for their time and effort and commitment to the S&T Program. I also want to especially thank “King Pine Ski Patrol” for hosting this wonderful event.  I encourage patrollers from all over NH Region to consider participation in Toboggan Enhancement clinics such as this, I promise that you all will have fun!

2015 Kick-Off for the Senior Program

The National Ski Patrol Senior Program is a national education opportunity that is offered at the region level.  The Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) Senior component allows candidates opportunities to further develop and enhance skills in the areas of leadership, decision making, and problem management of complex emergency care situations that may be encountered in a ski patrol environment.  The Senior Ski and Toboggan program allows candidates opportunities to further develop and enhance advanced skills in the areas of toboggan handling and skiing, or snowboarding, on the most challenging terrain in the Region.

Successful completion of the Senior S&T component, which is now known as Outdoor Emergency Transportation (OET), requires attending Senior level clinics where Division certified Trainer’s help candidates develop their own self-paced training progression to understand and achieve the Senior skill level.

Attainment of the OEC component requires completion of three phases, training clinics, written exercises and a final on-hill evaluation.  The program is designed to both develop and challenge candidates’ skills in managing complex multiple injury and multiple patient situations that they can expect to encounter as ski patrollers.  Candidates will develop their skills not only as OEC technicians, but also as leaders, problem solvers and emergency scene managers.

Both of these programs are fun, challenging and educational.  Please join us in an introductory meeting on Senior Program Kick-off Meeting.  If you plan to attend, please register for the activity by clicking on this link.

Both programs offer a calendar of more than 10 training opportunities which can be found on the NH Region’s monthly calendar page.  You can also browse though the individual program events by following these links:

NH Region Senior Ski & Toboggan Events

NH Region Senior Outdoor Emergency Care Events

Monthly Calendar

Training clinics and events are typically posted on the Region Calendar by December 1st.

Black Mountain Toboggan Enhancement Seminar

What a great day we had!  Despite predicted unfavorable weather all participants arrived on time with eagerness to start the day!  We had a total of thirteen students of varying degrees  of proficiency and four talented instructors: Deb Brown TE, Walter Hoeckele ATI,

Black Mtn, Toboggan Enhancement 2015

Front row 4 instructors kneeling, Deb Brown, Jake Jacobson, Lisa Kling, Walter Hoeckele, surrounded by the woderful Black Mountain Ski Patrol participants. Photo by Paul Kling

Jake Jacobson TE and Myself , Lisa Kling TE.  I presented an informal overview of what we would like to cover for the day and what to expect taking into consideration the terrain available to us and the different ski levels of our large group.

A good warm up run top to bottom with each participants demonstrating a little bit of all short, medium and long radius turns was helpful in determining the selection of our groups.  We broke into three groups.  Jake and Walter having four students each and Deb And I working together with five.

Black Mt 1-18-2015 008

Feathering the toboggan down the hill with ease. Photo by Paul Kling

Some of the groups started their morning session with skill drills on snow plow, sideslip and transitions to enhance the tools needed to be used in proper and efficient toboggan handling.  We used the available terrain to the best of our benefit to convey the theory and objective of why certain proven methods work for today’s toboggan transportation.  Current equipment of toboggans, patrollers’ skis, boots and even weather proof clothing has all been blended into the mix of improving operation and safety of patient transportation off of mountain terrain to warmth and comfort of patrol first aid rooms.

Getting ready to hook up to the chairlift

Getting ready to hook up to the chairlift. Photo by Paul Kling

Participants were all eager to perform skills in the handles of the sled and  also tail rope maneuvers  with even a few unannounced emergency stops called out by the instructors.  Participants proved to themselves why a “Good solid ready position” of the side slip is a great skill to be proficient at whenever something goes wrong.

Two of the groups went back out after lunch despite the rain and did more toboggan work, while my group worked through the lunch hour after a brief snack and break  We had covered all skills and the participants got lots of time in the handles and tail rope.

Summarizing the day, we had a very productive and fun time making excellent forward progress by all participants.  I certainly can attest to seeing some light bulb moments by some of the patrollers in my group.

Black Mountain and the Patrol Director (David Aibel) were extremely hospitable and generous with hosting this event.  They had all the needed  toboggans, tail ropes and carriers available to us to meet our clinic event objective and be assured all attendees were afforded plenty of instruction time throughout the entire time.

Black Mtn crew with Lisa Kling and Walter Hoeckele

Black Mtn crew with Lisa Kling and Walter Hoeckele. Photo by Paul Kling

Black Mountain is a wonderful  venue to attend as a student looking for improvement or refreshing of skills in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere.  Thank You to David Aibel and Black Mountain Management for hosting the Jan 18, 2015 NH NSP toboggan Enhancement Seminar.

Senior S&T and OEC Candidates Introductory Meeting

National Ski Patrol’s Senior Program is designed for members who aspire to perform at the upper levels of skiing/snowboarding, emergency care proficiency, toboggan handling and other skills used while patrolling. In addition, the program prepares patrollers for leadership roles within the NSP.  Seniors no longer need to complete both S&T and OEC to achieve the Senior designation.  Only Senior OEC is required.

The Senior OEC Program is a national education opportunity that allows members to participate in ski patrol-relevant exercises that are designed to develop and enhance the skills of decision making, problem management, and leadership as applied to the management of emergency care situations in a typical ski patrol environment. The purpose is to build on but not duplicate the Outdoor Emergency Care Program.

The Ski and Toboggan program is a Region wide educational training program that helps NSP members develop higher levels of skiing, snowboarding and rescue toboggan handling skills to aid in the performance of their duties.

If you are interested in participating in either or both of these programs during the 2014/2015 ski season, or sometime in the future, please join us at an orientation meeting to be held at the McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, NH on Friday November 14 at 6:30 PM. Follow this link for more details. . .

At the meeting, Ted Fitzgerald and Dan Rodgers, the region administrators for Senior S&T and Senior OEC, will review the program requirements, evaluation processes, provide suggestions for success, and answer any questions that you might have.

Ted and Dan look forward to meeting you, answering questions, with the hope of convincing you to join the training program this season. Please follow this link and fill out the short registration form.  This way we can anticipate who in interested.  Fill out the form even if you can not make it and we will add your name and email to our list of interested patrollers.  Most patrollers train for their Senior  over several ski ski seasons.  Register your interest and we will reach out to you by email.

Or email Ted Fitzgerald, Senior S&T and Dan Rodgers, Senior OEC. . .

Or leave a comment or question below. . .

Waterville Valley Skier Enhancement

The annual NH Region’s “Skier Enhancement Seminar” with PSIA Board of Education Examiner Kathy Brennan continues to attract ski patrollers from all over the state.  Ten ski patrol members joined her on the frigid slopes of Waterville Valley Resort on January 25th, 2014, maxing out the event and participating in a skier-movements seminar where techniques are practiced that lead to easier, more effective skiing.  The event is designed to give each individual personalized coaching and guided practice.  The clinic’s goal is to coach each participant with individualized care that can lead to a breakthrough in performance.

Kathy Brennan can be found at Arc2Arc.com

Kathy Brennan is the New Hampshire representative on the Professional Ski Instructors of America’s (PSIA) Education and Certification Committee and a two time Eastern Demonstration Team member.  Kathy works with students, instructors, and other members of the Board of Education to help them to achieve their performance goals.  She joined us for an all-day coaching event to help us make our own personal breakthroughs.  The group is limited every year to 10 ski patrollers and begins on green and blue slopes, focusing on improving each skiers’ techniques.

This year Waterville Valley hosted with polar conditions, delivering a fierce westerly wind and near zero temperatures.  The chairlifts to the top did not open until noontime because of high winds.  With such cold morning temperatures, Kathy Brennan setup a video recording opportunity on the slopes.  Heading indoors to review the videos gave everyone a chance to re-warm their fingers and toes as we assembled inside the Ski School locker-room to review videos.

Everybody benefited from watching their video in slow motion, with backward and forward analysis.  Kathy expertly explained how slight adjustments could be employed by each of us to feel improvements in the way our skis would grip the snow surface.  Below is a compilation of everyone’s video, showing a few seconds…

After warming, we returned to the slopes to employ the suggestions.  With guidance from Kathy, each of us was able to take the original suggestions and feel how our performance improved.  Kathy’s guided coaching continued throughout the day as each individual progressed towards their personal goal.

Some of us were working on feeling more edging, others worked on ways to improve balance.  Adjusting the skier’s stance to improve balance, increase edging and pressure under foot; and finding methods to let the skis do more of the steering around the entire turn.  Ultimately, all of us found improvements that lead to a more stable and relaxed skiing technique.  At the end of the day, the participants got to fill out an evaluation/questionnaire form.  Below are a few of the comments.

 What did you like most about this program?: 

"The personalized video feedback. I suggest video be done at all 
skier enhancements and reviews be done over lunch in the interest 
of time."

"I like the fact that it is held at a larger mountain with good 
terrain options. I like the fact that it is run by a higher level 
PSIA instructor (This is a MUST). I like the fact that it is at a 
mountain that no one patrols at so you can get the most of not 
being pulled out of a clinic or have to worry about radio calls. 
You can just go ski and focus on skiing."

"The opportunity to ski with a PSIA Education Committee ski 
instructor was awesome.  Kathy is an excellent instructor with an 
incredible amount of experience who has a gift for teaching.  The 
methods of instruction used were very easy to understand and 
translate into real world skiing.  An incredibly valuable experi-
ence. Please bring Kathy back for next year's clinic."

"...had fun and learned a great deal despite sub-zero air temps 
and high winds! Thanks to NH for a great skill building day.  I 
can patrol better tomorrow with what I learned today."

The Waterville Valley Skier Enhancement Seminar has developed a following among a small group of returning Patrollers.  It seems that a third of the class attended the previous year.  After tapping into the great coaching for two or three seasons, Patrollers make a significant leap forward in their skiing.  The Waterville Valley event began in 2001 and has established itself as an annual favorite with the avid support of NH Region Ski Patrol members.  Make sure to watch the Region event calendar in the fall and register for next year’s event as soon as registration begins. . .

Senior S&T Clinic at Ragged Mountain

The first combined EMARI-NH Region Senior Ski and Toboggan (S&T) Clinic on the 2014 Calendar took to Ragged Mountain in Danbury, NH on Sunday January 12, 2014.  Sixteen candidates braved the cold snap and came out to discover the performance criteria required for becoming a Senior Alpine Patroller.

S&T Trainers setting up toboggans for the clinic

S&T Trainers setting up toboggans for the clinic

The entire New England region had been suffering a warm weather thaw with several days of rain.  Just prior to the clinic date, a polar cold snap blew in and froze the slopes to a durable white hard-pack.  The Candidates got a glimpse of New England’s constantly changing snow conditions, a common occurrence that sometimes afflicts the annual Senior exam day in early March.

These events are staffed by both NH and EMARI Trainer/Evaluators (TE’s).  The Trainer to Candidate ratio is typically less then three. This allows the participants to get plenty of individualized attention.  Not only are these clinics a great place to see the expected performance criteria needed to pass the exam, but techniques usable for attaining success are introduced.  The students get to try out these approaches and practice under the guidance of their instructors.

One of the S&T program goals is to provide Senior Candidates with enough information, technique development, guidance and practice, so that they can continue practicing on their own.  With three more Senior S&T Clinics schedules for the season, most candidates seem to attend two more before taking the test.

At Ragged Mountain, the participants were broken up into three groups and rotated between enhancing their skiing skills, toboggan handling and patroller skills.  I caught up with Michelle Goldsmith’s (TE wearing the green jacket)  group in the afternoon and found her introducing side-slipping on a steep boilerplate slope. She stepped the group through a series of progressive exercises that helped them discover and tune into balancing on the icy terrain while using edging/braking, whole ski pressuring and even rotational movement when practicing the “falling leaf” style side-slip.  The brief video shows a short snippet of her group putting it all together on the ice.

The Senior program is made up of three components:  Ski & Toboggan handling, OEC First Aid Management and patroller electives.  Most Senior Candidates choose to train over two winter seasons.  It is typical to work on Senior OEC first aid management one year, then the next year train for the S&T exam.  During both seasons, the Candidates typically take NSP educational electives.  The S&T Program offers Toboggan Enhancement Seminars which everyone takes for their first elective.  NH Region also offers the an official “Skier Enhancement Seminar” at Waterville Valley on the last Sunday of January.  These are the easiest two electives that most add to their Senior program checklist.  After that, Candidates need to find one additional elective to choose from:  Avalanche, Mountain   Travel Rescue , and Instructor Development are the most common that patrollers choose.

Along the way, Ski Patrollers training in the Senior program develop friendships among colleagues from neighboring mountains.  NH trains with EMARI, which is the Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island Region, so friendships often extend over the border.  They find themselves meeting each other at multiple events and supporting each other on test day.

The NH and EMARI  S&T Senior Program gets excellent reviews from participants because the TE’s encourage all participants to anonymously fill out a “Program Improvement Questionnaire.”  The questionnaire is located on a separate section of this  website. It collects ratings from the students and gives them a chance to vent their frustrations with the events and exams.  The S&T staffs of both regions pour over the results, carefully review the comments and use the information to make improvements to the Senior Candidate experience.  Every year we collect over 50 submissions, the data is collated and the program is tuned and tweaked to continually deliver the best possible candidate training experience possible.

I touched base with Rick Rockwood, the NH Region S&T Instructor of Record for the event and asked him for a few of the anonymous comments.  He sent me the following:

 What did you like most about this program?: 
     Meeting other patrollers, skiing with instructors.
What did you like most about this program?:
    The instructors really cared about whether we were learning.  
    They checked for comprehension and restated concepts in 
    different ways to make sure we understood.  There was a nice 
    blend of encouragement and suggestions for improvement.
What did you like least about this program?: 
    Never enough time or moguls.
What did you like least about this program?: 
    Mother Nature -- can't dictate the terrain (eg bumps)
What is the ONE thing that you would most like to see changed in 
this program?: 
    Nothing that you can do.  We needed more snow!!
Please feel free to make any additional comments: 
    Enjoyable class, and I learned a lot!

Ragged Mountain was the first big mountain Senior Ski and Toboggan clinic of the season.  The next event is two weeks later at Sunday River in Bethel, ME.  This is a two day event with a pot luck dinner and it includes Senior Candidates from all over the Maine Region.  In early February, the Senior Clinic moves to Waterville Valley where the moguls begin to loom tall.

Rick Rockwood and Cal Goldsmith bring up a few  Senior Candidates for sweep at the end of the day

Rick Rockwood and Cal Goldsmith bring up a couple of  Senior Candidates for sweep at the end of the day

After that clinic, everybody returns to their own mountain because the school holiday weeks require patrollers to do double duty at their own resorts.  Although early March brings the annual Senior exam at Cannon Mountain, EMARI and NH S&T Staff’s do squeeze in a pre-test day at Loon Mountain.  Its like a dress-rehearsal where the Candidates come to one last clinic for feedback, tweaking and practice before the big day at Cannon.

Watch this S&T News page for another installment of the 2014 Senior S&T Training experience.  If you participated in past seasons, or are currently training for the exam, we would like to hear your comments below. . .

Women’s S&T

Attention all women patrollers – beginners through experienced patrollers – Join us for a day of fun and skill enhancement.  A program for and by women of all skill levels.  Be part of this program and take your skills up a notch, AND have a full day to take these skills into the handles (or tail rope!).  We believe that if you are in a safe, supportive and fun environment, you will finish the day having expanded your tool kit, used skills you never thought you would, and enjoyed the friendship of a new patroller or two.

Register for NH’s Women’s S&T 2013

We have at least four seasoned female instructors – we will be sure you are in a group that matches your skill level and goals for the day – we will push your envelope AND assure that you are both safe and having a good time – we guarantee you will make progress.  Small groups, big progress.

With sufficient numbers of sleds and instructors, we’ll be sure that all participants get plenty of time in the handles (and with the tail rope) in terrain that challenges you and advances your skills.  You’ll be thrilled and pleased with the progress you can make in one solid day.

The only schedule we adhere to is the one we create to achieve our goals.  Fun and advancement – we guarantee it!

Follow this link to Register for NH’s Women’s S&T 2013 scheduled for March 24, 2014 at Pat’s Peak, New Hampshire.