Here’s Ben Darlow’s summary of the Canadian message at Interski 2015

The Canadians again sent a strong team of skiers made up from both Eastern and Western Provinces. While I didn’t get to attend any of the Canadian presentations I spent 10 days post interski travelling with one of their team members Olivier, and since quite a bit of our time was sitting on buses we had plenty of time to talk. This report is a combination of that, and feedback from other NZSIA members who did get to enjoy the Canadians clinics.

Educational structure

The CSIA system is similar to NZSIA except that on completion of a level you are considered trained, and then to finish each level and be considered certified you must complete a certain number of educational credits (10 for level 2, 40 for level 3 and 4). The educational credits come from courses such as kids, park, freeride, coaching fundamentals, advanced teaching, or personal development camps.


The main concept the CSIA brought to this interski was Experiential Learning, which is a theory of learning based on a model by David A. Kolb.  This theory involves a ‘direct encounter with the phenomena being studied rather than merely thinking about the encounter, or only considering the possibility of doing something about it’.

Diagram depicting the stages of Experiential Learning

Diagram depicting the stages of Experiential Learning

Their ideas and concepts were outlined over 3 well presented indoor sessions titled Decision Making, How We Learn, and Experiential Education, and then put into practice on the hill where several demonstrators took a small group each. Each presenter chose a topic they wanted to explore with the group of people they gathered, and then used the terrain and snow conditions to illustrate the idea and application of experiential learning. As expected the one we attended was presented with great enthusiasm and engaged the group well.

The Canadians outline their teaching with the following WHY, HOW, and WHAT:

WHY (do we teach)

We want to engage our students and share our passion for the sport of skiing.

HOW (do we teach)

We follow the philosophy of Experiential Education and Decision Making Process.

WHAT (do we teach)

We base our development on the guiding principles of our Technical Reference.  Our tools are the Gliding Experience, Terrain Assisted Development and the Skills System.

The teaching in each session using Experiential Education is object driven and the tasks should be specific, measurable, external, and effective.  The chosen tasks are determined by the Decision Making Process which factors the student’s physical and psychological capabilities, their experience and goals, as well as the environment, and motor skill development (which includes the Stages of Learning and technical reference, outlined below)   gliding experience  terrain assisted development

The instructor uses the terrain to set up experiences that the student can then reflect on and learn from. The philosophy being that the student is more self aware of their performance if they have been set up to discover the feeling rather than being told what it should be.

Once they have the feeling, the instructor facilitates a discussion around questions such as “why did this happen?” and “how can we influence it?” so the students can conceptualise the performance and build more awareness and understanding.

Beyond that they are encouraged to experiment by altering one variable at a time to further understand cause and effect.


Their technical focus was on loading the ski at the same time so they could release at the same time to stay in sync. They were loading the ski by creating separation in the fall line, through the involvement of the hip creating angulation.

This was based around their 4 guiding principles of the Technical Reference which describe the relationship between body and skis for efficient and effective skiing.

They are:

  1. Turning is led by the lower body and ski design.
  2. Managing upper and lower body separation allows for angulation to provide grip.
  3. Use of all joints helps maintain a centred stance and provides the ability to manage forces acting on the ski and skier.
  4. Coordinated movement patterns direct the forces acting on the skis and the momentum of the skier from turn to turn.


As has come to be expected from the CSIA, their presentations and presence at Interski in Ushuaia showed that they are working hard to progress the quality of How we teach skiing to people. We want to engage the guests in a way that give them an experience of why we all have such a big passion for the sport.  While in the NZSIA we do often talk about making sure we are focused on the guests in front of us, I often see new instructors “teaching” the “canned” lesson, rather than facilitating the guests to experience things that will allow them to progress, which you see with experienced instructors.  I noticed personally a few years ago, the more seasons I taught, the less I actually taught and the more I coached people into discovering the desired results. Recently we have started to shift the focus of our courses more towards how to teach rather than what to teach.  Further development of these ideas along the lines of what the Canadians showed us, particularly in terms of using terrain, can only be a good thing. That way, hopefully it won’t be taking people coming through as long to figure things out as it took me.

Team Canada

Team Canada