Jiri Nohejl is an NZSIA trainer and examiner as well APUL (Czech) demo team member. Jiri shares his Interski experience…

The APUL Interski team

Interski Congress 2015 in Ushuaia is almost half a year behind us, but the strong emotions that I had when participating at this amazing event won’t leave me for a very long time. I would like to share a few memories and remarks from the perspective of a NZSIA Examiner who has been part of the Interski Team representing another association and country – APUL and Czech Republic.

There are many things which are absolutely awesome about Interski Congress. However, the most valuable is the chance to share knowledge with the rest of our profession from all around the world. This may not be such a clear observation from the New Zealand perspective, where we have that rare opportunity to meet the best snowsport industry professionals from all around the world every winter season in Wanaka, Queenstown, Methven or Mt Ruapehu. New Zealand seasons are like a little Interski, which is evident in the development and profoundness of NZSIA education system.

At the Interski Congress in Argentina I was very proud because I was witnessing my friends from many countries delivering inspiring presentations on-snow and during indoor lectures. I got to enjoy a successful participation of NZSIA together with having a chance to represent the Czech Republic and present APUL educational system and teaching and technical concepts.

During the week at Cerro Castor, the ski resort where the congress was held, had a fantastic vibe of friendship, teamwork and partnership. Many nations brought interesting ideas related to our profession and showed great attitude for sharing our common passion for snowsports. We could also enjoy the show of technical and synchronized skiing on the demo hill.

From among the best countries presenting their approach it was NZSIA, APSI, CSIA and PSIA which shined the best. Most of the nations had great skiers, but less of them realize the key element of our profession which could be described by the NZSIA motto: “teaching excellence”. In my view the countries which brought the most inspiring ideas were those which are not tangled in current rivalry of the European snowsports industry politics. It is a great challenge to work together for the future of our sport and profession and it is with collaboration not rivalry which can help our small industry to move a long way.

APUL in action

APUL was inspired by the spirit of friendship, teamwork and partnership at the Interski Congress 2011 in St. Anton. Since then we have broadened our collaboration with associations outside Europe and learned an important lesson that ski racing is only one of the many embodiment of our sport and that great teaching is what makes our profession successful for the future. We have presented a shift towards skill based technical concept and experiential learning based on personal tacit knowledge which we developed over the last four years. I was delighted to see other European countries such as Denmark and Croatia on the same path.

What did we all learn at Interski 2015? I believe we saw that the majority of the countries are moving in a similar direction in the development of their education and approach to teaching skiing. Technical content of most countries show more similarities than discrepancies. There is a strong emphasis towards functional skiing which at the same time is elegant, powerful and healthy. In comparison to the past now less and less countries are focused on form and they are moving towards function based on skills and achievement. It doesn’t matter anymore if we describe good skiing through 4 different movements or through a set of skills. The goal is the same and it is clearly to put emphasis on harmony between terrain and body movement as opposed to rigid forms of simulating exactly prescribed images of final form.

The shift was apparent even during Interski 2011, but what Interski 2015 brought to the table was a strong connection between the functional skiing approach and the way how we are teaching it. Rigid forms of prescribed progressions are replaced with experiential learning. Leaders of this approach are emphasizing the natural tendency of human beings to learn better while addressing their cognitive abilities and personal knowledge. Experiential learning is the next step in the development of student-centred teaching by placing the cognition of the learner in the middle of the learning process.

I know, you may say student-centred teaching has been with us for decades, but it has been lacking something. It has been lacking full involvement and appreciation of skiing as an open sport in an open environment where we can describe concepts but we cannot clearly determine exact forms. We have to allow our students to experiment and experience outcomes and place us as teachers in the position of the facilitators or guides of the learning process. Interski 2015 was a great platform to discuss how we are going to be able to move in this direction in the future from a world-wide perspective and how to engage more people in this exciting sport we are all part of.