The Professional Ski Instructors of America - American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) is a nonprofit education association dedicated to promoting the sports of skiing and snowboarding through instruction. With more than 31,500 members, PSIA-AASI establishes certification standards for snowsports instructors and develops education materials to be used as the core components of instructor training.
With its large membership base, PSIA-AASI is a significant grassroots organization whose members spend more time with the skiing and snowboarding public than any other ski area employee. PSIA-AASI supports area management through research and development of instructional programs in alpine skiing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, and adaptive skiing and snowboarding. The association also develops educational materials and programs to serve specific ski and snowboard demographics, such as children.
The Past 51 Years
PSIA has evolved into a sophisticated and influential entity since its fledgling beginnings more than 50 years ago. The early days of ski instruction in the United States were typified by a variety of programs and techniques, many of which were brought to this country by European ski instructors. Teaching principles varied across the country as did the process of instructor certification—bestowed in those early years by an assortment of regional associations.
Initially there was no set of standards for what was taught. Instructors could choose to teach Austrian, French, or Swiss methods, to name just a few. That, plus the fact that the certification standards were so different from one part of the country to another, was what drove the formation of a national organization for ski instruction.
PSIA was incorporated in the fall of 1961 by a group of seven committed instructors—Bill Lash, Jimmy Johnston, Paul Valar, Doug Pfeiffer, Don Rhinehart, Max Dercum, and Curt Chase—who hailed from various parts of the country. By 1964, a truly American ski technique had taken shape, described in PSIA’s first manual, The Official American Ski Technique. Finally there existed a standard for what American ski instructors taught. As time went on, the American Ski Technique (AST) evolved into the American Teaching Method (ATM) and finally to what is currently called the American Teaching System (ATS).
(PSIA's co-founders; seated, left to right are Bill Lash, Jimmy Johnston, Paul Valar; standing left to right are Doug Pfeiffer, Don Rhinehart, Max Dercum, and Curt Chase)
As snowboarding hit the scene and gained popularity, PSIA saw the need to do for snowboard instruction what it had done for ski instruction. The first training and education programs were developed—by PSIA—in 1987, and in 1989 the association published its first snowboard-oriented education resource, the Snowboard Ski Instruction Manual. In 1997 PSIA formed the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) as an affiliate association.
Made up of members with a true passion for getting people excited about skiing and snowboarding, today's PSIA-AASI is committed to making the next 50 years (at least) just as groundbreaking as the first 50.
Use the links below to learn more about PSIA-AASI:
Board and Staff