Getting loose with Argentina

The concept for this session was about not only understanding tension in our bodies when riding but also trying to understand where unconscious tension comes from and how we can create more awareness of it in order to decrease it and allow more flow to our riding.

We started off with a simple head to toe warm up off of our boards as it was the first run of the day for most of us.Once we strapped into our bindings we did a lot of pendulum actions using counter rotation to get our direction changes in order to loosen and get our core muscles activated.Breathing was the next step(anyone who has raced a banked slalom knows that we sometimes forget to do this) so we concentrated on breathing in as we extended and then out when flexing, as we breathed out we were trying to feel our feet extend and our toes spread a little and really feel our feet along the sole as we got to the neutral position. The point to all this is that when the instructor knows how to relax they can then teach this feeling to t0heir students.

We moved on to understanding our range of movement, taking flexion and extension to as far as we could so then work within that range to move as efficiently as possible.The tactic they used was to isolate our hips for rotation in order to be more conscious of not only where and how much we are moving but also the effects this range of motion has on the board and our turn shape.

To highlight how relaxed we can be when we ride we were asked to drop our arms down to our sides and let them just hang, the premise being that if we always have them out like an airplane that creates tension in the shoulders( I encourage you to try this one and see what happens ).The idea is that by being loose we then have to opportunity to tense and contract our muscles should we need to.

The take home messages seemed to be that when talking about the teaching aspect, one thing that came up for both instructors on courses and for students when being taught was that conciousness + concentration sometimes give us tension without us thinking about it.It’s something we should all try and be aware of and try to negate to the best of our ability and that by being aware of our full range of motion gives us another tool to economize movement creating efficiency towards our intended outcome.

NZ Session

New Zealand ran 3 different sessions so we split into different groups for the morning and afternoon session.I went with the level 3 based session.

The main overall focus for these sessions was for the kiwis to show how they bridge the gap between hard skills and soft skills in different instructor levels within their system.

We started by being asked to talk on the lift about what hard skills and soft skills mean in our different countries, our is aligned pretty closely with theirs in the fact that they consider hard skills based more on actions on the board and the soft ones based on other aspects of the lesson such as how you communicate, ask questions and engage your students within a lesson.

They illustrated a diagram similar to our skills concept one with 3 circles – safety,fun and achievement with the parts that intersect being the stoke zone.The circles can change in size according to what you are doing and the person you are teachings personality.

We started with something they are assessed on for the level 1 – Ollies.

We warmed up for a bit and worked on how high we could get our Ollies on some mellow terrain.It was highlighted how safe we were and it was fun but not too much achievement at our level as we can already do them.Next we paired up and tried to challenge the person following by using as many variations as we could ,nollie,tail taps,Ollie’s into presses etc.After a short while we regrouped and when the person following was asked if they tried anything new some in the group said yes so the achievement bubble had expanded somewhat or them and new movements within their riding had been developed.

Moving on to the level 2 we were at the top of the park and Keith the presenter explained on the level 2 they assess on Ariel awareness and they ask for a controlled secondary movement in the air i.e a grab,shifty or rotation, basically anything other than just riding and getting air over a jump. They also bring in experiential and environmental learning here. The NZ system uses experiential a little differently to us as the relate it to movement you have already done in your past, not necessarily on a snowboard.Environmental is how we change things up or use what is around us for example putting your glove or a snowball on the ground to jump over or giving a point to the side of the run to point your board towards un a shifty.Showing how we can use and change the environment to get different results from students.In the level 2 candidates are shown a video of someone riding and they have to use verbal analysis to correct them based on experiential and environmental factors. Once they have seen the video they have to fix a student based on what they saw on the screen.

For the level 3 NZ Introduces a high performance stance, the difference is show in the second photo.

This position is to allow more more dynamic movement on the board and to give the ability to manage forces better on the board.

A big performance carve is part of the level 3 assessment with no up or down unweighting specified but they are looking for something similar to CASI with a pressure build through the turn and then using energy to help you into the next turn. They use question based learning for the level 3 using a variety of types such as open,closed,leading,probing and scalable to name a few.

A student is given a scenario on specific terrain out of earshot of the Instructor who then has to ask questions to figure out the problem from the student and then come up with a tactic or movement to fix the rider and develop them with.

The NZ way seems to be pretty similar to what we do with a few differences in presentation on courses and terminology but overall our messages are similar.

Polands on snow workshop

This morning was kind of cool.After St Patricks day things were a little slower paced for a lot of the teams. With some of the riders taking some well earned rest from the stresses of the previous day.

Not us CASI folks though we were tucked up in bed nice and relatively early as we knew we had a big day today.

So back to how cool the day was, on the 8.15 shuttle to the resort we arrived to see a few people milling around and all the snowboarders congregated in the middle of the village below the demo slope. Not having a specific plan we all decided to go for a ride together , so a few groomer laps and then some in the park with riders from all over the world just doing their thing , it was awesome to see and none of us were focused on doing perfect demos just ripping some turns with like minded people.

At 10:30 we split into 2 groups and went on sessions presented by Poland and Slovakia.

Yuki, Luc and I went with the Polish guys and Jeff and Adam went with Slovenia.

The Session idea was about using methods of contrast in order to get development from students. They took us to extremes with our equipment to help our understanding of our movement patterns. The first thing was to limit the help we get from our bindings and concentrate on using our joints to be able to turn our boards so loosening off our bindings to the point that our ankle straps were only a click or two connected and then riding switch – It made me think a whole lot about where I was stood and how I moved on the board to be able to change edge.

The next task they asked us to try was to take a lack of vision and see how it affected our balance. So we put bubble wrap( you know the stuff that you pack boxes with ) in our goggles and tried riding down the slope, it wasn’t overly challenging try thinking of driving just before you turn your windshield wipers on, you can kind of see people and where the slope edge was but not the smaller details. The next thing was total blackout we upped the ante and put a dense sponge in front of our eyes and it was like trying to ride in a power outage. Trust in the people guiding me was needed as i felt like I’d never been on a board before,for most people our body tensed and lateral movement almost came to a screeching halt with the majority prefering to rush the edge changes in their turns at the last minute. The idea was good and they got us thinking about how our students feel when they are riding in whiteout or stormy conditions as once the visability goes we get into survival mode.

They showed how even limiting one sense in varying amounts can develop9 understanding for students in how they stand and balance on their boards and that we can create extremes aimed at riders from beginner to advanced and use them as development tools in our lessons

The journey has started

So we are on the way to Bulgaria , even when I lived in Europe I never visited so this experience will be a first for me.

Sorry to rehash what every other team member is saying but I really feel proud and privileged to be able to represent CASI on the world stage and get to listen and learn from all of the different nations represented here.

We arrived at YVR with plenty of time to spare due to the 737 Max airplanes being grounded and Jeff and Simon started talking about blogs etc – i am the most computer illiterate out of our group but will update as soon as I figure out how to work the blog page.

The plan is to meet up with with Adam Gardner and some of the CSIA crew in Calgary before we fly onwards to Amsterdam!