Jennifer Simpson’s Cert Secrets: Fundamentals, Snowboards, and Her Dad

PSIA-AASI Alpine Team member Jennifer Simpson is well known as a top instructor and trainer, so it made sense to ask about some her “certification secrets.” What wasn’t so obvious is how diverse her tips were. From training with her father to preparing for her Alpine Level III by snowboarding, Simpson’s insights focus as much on enjoying the entire learning process as they do on achieving your goals.

From fundamentals to fun, here are some of her top tips for enjoying the certification circus this spring.

Find a Good Training Partner

I was lucky to have my dad as my training partner when I went for my Level III, and it was cool to have shared that experience with him. One of the best parts of having a partner is they help you clarify what you’re conveying and teaching, but also help you look at aspects of the process you might not have thought of on your own. We did a lot of studying together, sitting at home and sharing progressions, looking at stuff in the back of the books, going through specific assignments and pulling out random words to discuss. What was nice about that was I didn’t realize just how hard we were working. It was more about enjoying the process of learning and studying and spending that time together, and that was more important than the end goal.

Focus on Fundamentals

The more you progress in the certification process, the more solid your fundamentals need to be. Depending on which school you train with, however, there is a bias you can develop in certain areas. On the other hand, with all the ways different fundamentals can apply, it can get confusing if you are getting coached by a lot of people. You have to be able to sift through all the feedback and all the exercises and find out what it all has in common. If you keep hearing similar comments and feedback, then that will help you clarify where you have more work to do.

Don’t Get Bogged Down

Training for Level III is not always fun. It’s easy to get too cerebral and bogged down. The year I was doing it was also a year when they needed more snowboard pros to teach at Big Powderhorn, so I spent a lot of time snowboarding, too. It was great because it got me back in that speed phase of learning, where I was working on basic things like how to avoid taking a massive slam when I fell. Every day was a new adventure just ripping around and relaxing, and I think it saved me from getting too overwhelmed with all of the little details.