A “who’s who” of U.S. skiing and snowboarding gathered April 13, 2013, in Vail, Colorado, as pioneering ski instructor Horst Abraham and five other remarkable figures in the snowsports community—Jeremy Bloom, Kirsten Clark, Hans Geier, Craig Kelly, and Wayne Wong —were inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Hall of Fame.
Abraham, who served as PSIA’s education director in the early 1970s, was among the association’s early innovators responsible for the American Teaching Method (ATM), which was a game-changer in ski instruction at the time and continues to be an integral part of modern instruction. The ATM focused on the guest and the skills specific to that guest.
Put Away the Cookie Cutter
Prior to this, as Abraham recalls, there was a “one-size-fits-all” approach in which students had to go through a series of maneuvers or final forms before progressing to the next step. One day, Abraham found one of his students on a run that they had not yet progressed to. Abraham scolded the student for being in a place that he had no business being, at which point the student merely laughed and skied off—making some beautiful parallel turns! It was at that moment, says Abraham, that he realized a “cookie cutter” approach to ski instruction and teaching technique was not specific to the needs and desires of the guest.
The guest-centered ATM that PSIA developed soon after is still the basis of American ski instruction—and has served as inspiration for the ski teaching systems of other nations as well. Through the forums of the International Ski Instructors Congress, or Interski, (in Sesto, Italy, in 1976 and Zao, Japan, in 1980), Abraham helped present the new American teaching methodology, and the United States quickly became a leader in the development of ski instruction versus a follower of European practices.
In 1983, Abraham wrote Skiing Right, which, at the time, became PSIA’s official instructional manual. He has also written articles on instruction for PSIA-AASI publications as well as SKI and Skiing magazines. Abraham, who is putting the final touches on a new book, Coaching Right, is the recipient of the PSIA Educational Excellence Award and a 2010 inductee into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Congratulations to Abraham and all the inductees! (For more their individual contributions to snowsports, click here. You can also read more about Abraham and other PSIA-AASI pioneers in American Snow: The Snowsports Instruction Revolution, available through the PSIA-AASI Accessories Catalog.
- Text and photos by Kevin Jordan
Taking center stage at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction ceremony (left to right): Hans Geier, Brian Kelly (accepting the honor on behalf of his brother, Craig Kelly, who died in an avalanche in 2003), Kirsten Clark, Wayne Wong, Jeremy Bloom, and Horst Abraham.