Top Technology Game-Changers

For the past few years, almost any conversation about how new technology is changing the way skiing and snowboarding are taught has focused on equipment—more specifically, rocker.

That’s because from beginners to experts, and alpine skiers to riders to telemarkers, the new standard in equipment design really is affecting every segment of snowsports at the same time.

But it’s certainly not the only place where new technology shines. For instructors, PSIA-AASI’s Movement Matrix is making it possible to explore an ever-expanding range of alpine, telemark, snowboard, cross-country, and adaptive teaching techniques. GPS systems like Flaik are allowing ski and snowboard schools to track instructors and students—especially kids—around the mountain, giving their parents a little piece of mind, too. And online-accessible video analysis systems such as Sprongo and V1 Pro are making it possible for winter athletes to continue their coaching sessions long after they are off the hill.

All of which doesn’t even begin to address the ubiquity of helmet cams and video-capable cellphones that are allowing powderhounds and park rats to capture and broadcast their every move out into the interweb.

“Whether it’s for fun, for entertainment, or for educational purposes, there is a lot of new technology allowing us to share the experience of being on snow like never before,” says Matt Fults of Rival Films, which produces PSIA-AASI’s Go With a Pro content (available in a television show and as tips on The Snow Pros YouTube Channel). “I think it’s also exposing that experience to more and more people who have never been on snow.”

Discerning how all of this new technology is changing instruction, and how widely it is being used, is not as easy as pointing to a rockered snowboard, however, and saying, “That will make it easier for you to turn.” What it is doing, is making it that much easier to share the moment when you do.

“The connection aspect is one of the key elements,” says Earl Saline, PSIA-AASI professional development manager. “Whether it’s photos or videos, you can get proof of your experience right away, and share it with whoever you want to.”

As an instruction aid, Saline says, not only can teachers use pocket cameras and smartphones to give their students instant visual feedback on how they are improving, but they can also access other images and video to help reinforce what they are teaching right there on the hill. He says, “It’s just more access to more information, and that many more resources you can use.”

Saline cautions, however, that the technology should never be what the lesson is all about. “You can’t rely on the technology to do the teaching for you. It’s still person to person,” he says. “The fact that our members are there with the guest, face to face, is still what’s so important about what we do.”

(Author’s note: The Winter 2013 issue of 32 Degrees will explore how new technology is impacting ski and snowboard instruction. We would love to have your feedback on the issue. Please feel free to send an e-mail to Special Projects Editor Peter Kray and let him know: How has new technology impacted how you teach? What new technology in particular—Movement Matrix, online coaching, video analysis, GPS tracking, or something else—are you using? What has been its biggest impact on how you teach?)

Peter Kray

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