Germany – The Snowboard Compass

The Germans presented a half-indoor, half-outdoor session covering their Snowboard Compass tool. (Sorry team, the link to the image is broken and I can’t find it while googling). They have a circular image with Slope, Race, Offpiste and Park on the edges; there’s another layer that further breaks these domains down, with things like SBX, Halfpipe, Groundtricks, etc…

The tool is designed to encourage instructors to think broadly about snowboarding and to remember to incorporate as many disciplines as possible into every lesson. On courses they go further and train their instructors to use the tool to view and select varying terrain. In the session I found the compass to be a good way to remind myself of types of riding I don’t often think about (like half-pipe) and how to view the terrain (not a half-pipe) with a more open and creative eye.

This feels very similar to how we encourage an open and global teaching approach in our own system. Good lessons aren’t limited to just one task or type of riding and often the cross-training of kinds of riding actually creates more improvement than not.

Spain – Importance of Breathing for Snowboard Technical Work

The spanish team presented an interesting session highlighting how breathing with purpose can enhance performance. They brought the theory over from their competition stream and were trying to develop how to implement the same principals in general teaching.

We started with an interesting exercise involving pinching or index finger and thumb together while either inhaling or exhaling. Someone would then try to pull the fingers apart. There was a noticeable difference in strength with one compared to the other; some people in the group had more strength while exhaling but most seemed to prefer inhaling.

We then tried to apply this to our snowboarding by coordinating our breathing with specific movements, parts of the turn and sets of turns. There is definitely some application for purposeful breathing in our snowboarding, but the Spaniards agreed that they had not worked out the most reliable techniques yet (the session was being used as a workshop to generate more ideas on the topic).

USA – Freestyle

Today I had the pleasure to attend a freestyle session presented by Tony Macri of the AASI. It was a fun session that kept everyone engaged and involved in the park, using the AASI’s 6 Fundamentals as a base for creating the trick outcomes we worked on. He also introduced the TAD model to help us evolve and improve the tricks as we went.

The 6 Fundamentals and the TAD model combined are an interesting take on similar concepts to our 5 skills. Tony gives a great rundown of these concepts that you can check out here:

Ultimately, we’re talking about the same things in different ways, which is a common theme here at Interski; however, I think there is a lot of value in trying to interpret one concept many different ways, as it can bring greater clarity and understanding of the base concept. In CASI, we like to say ‘there are no rights and wrongs, just actions and consequences’…

USA (Ski) – Decision Making for Learning

This afternoon the snowboard sessions were a little thin and the team already had all the topics covered, so I thought I would take the oppurtunity to see what the skiers were talking about. I had heard from Tony of the AASI (American snowboarders) that they share all of their methodology between all disciplines, so I opted for the American ski pedagogy session about decision making throughout the lesson.

The Americans use the ODA (Observe, Decide, Act) model to help lead their decision making during a lesson. They try to avoid coming into lessons with pre-planned structures and techniques and instead use questions and guest-led goals to decide lesson content and structure. The ODA model helps structure what information the questions are searching for, as well as how to approach next steps with the acquired information. Everything from guest mentality to snow conditions is considered in making teaching and technical decisions.

This kind of teaching relies heavily on experience to work, as only time can help in accounting for all these various factors. However, the ODA model gives a good basic framework to help accelerate the acquisition of this key decision-making skill.

Australia – Moving with Purpose

Attending the APSI presentation from Kylie Dwyer, Jon Steele and Jason Clausen was a pleasure. They presented several aspects of their riding techniques that are specific to the Australian snow conditions:
Anticipated position where hips and shoulders are aligned across the angle of the front foot, and the lead shoulder is externally rotated and shoulder blade actively retracted towards the spine,
Movements at the transition between edges in which re-centering over a flat base is prioritized, and
Full body steering throughout the turn.

Due to the generally icy conditions Down Under, the APSI places importance with keeping their centre of mass over the board. To do this they use up-unweighting throughout all of their levels to help recenter more reliably from turn-to-turn, although down-unweighting is used. Early steering into the inside of the turn, and movements from front- to rear-foot (from start to finish) to drive the board through the arc.

To exemplify the differences between up and down-unweighting, they took us through several tactics, ranging from their exam criteria short turns from their Level 2 all the way to linked heel-to-heel advanced short turns. While they acknowledge that down-unweighting tends to be faster and more powerful than up-unweighting, they caution that down un-weighting tends to put us in more inclined and less balanced positions throughout the turn.

The Aussies continue to have a unique perspective in snowsports and their techniques can give us a positive nudge in a different direction than we’re used to.