Interski 2023: Joshua Fogg on People Skills

Held every four years, Interski is an international event that brings together top snowsports instructors from more than 40 countries. The PSIA-AASI National Team attends to present their latest teaching techniques and get insight into new ideas to bring back home to members. The discussions that take place at the event help PSIA-AASI refine its approach to training instructors and improving the guest experience.

Here, PSIA Alpine Team Member Joshua Fogg provides a preview of what the team will present at Interski 2023 in Levi, Finland, March 26 through March 31.

What are you most excited about in anticipation of Interski 2023?

Finland is a great location for Interski and for all snowsport disciplines to share ideas. I’m looking forward to the formal presentations from ISIA teams (like PSIA-AASI) and from the IVSS and IVSI. The latter are the other associations that participate in Interski representing schools and universities (IVSS) and amateur snowsports organizations (IVSI). The presentations will give a well-rounded international perspective of teaching snowsports that adds to our domestic thoughts.

Beyond the presentations, I look forward to the informal time with other national team members from around the world. These moments are informative as we get to learn from each other without any pre-formed plan. We get to share our perspectives with each other and understand the cultural distinctions that make each system unique while seeing the underlying pieces that make snowsports, and snowsports lessons, thrive around the world.

Personally, Levi will be the 97th ski area in the world I’ve gone alpine skiing. It is also home to world-renowned cross country skiing, which I plan to take part in too. I’ve always wanted to ski in Scandinavia and look forward to taking full advantage of what this great resort has to offer us.

Whether on-snow or indoors, what are you presenting, and how does that complement the team presentation?

I’m on a small team presenting how we observe, assess, and train people skills in PSIA-AASI. At Interski 2019 in Bulgaria, we opened the conversation surrounding people skills in snowsports instruction. During that Interski, the rest of the world agreed with our premise and was interested in how we planned to assess and train these important skills.

Over the past four years, the People Skills Task Force (which has included Ann Schorling, Brian Smith, Matt Larson, Zoe Mavis, Jennifer Weier, Lyndsey Stevens, Angelo Ross, Katie Feucht, Nick Alfieri, and Eric Rolls) has identified observable behaviors and actions that can be assessed and trained. Our presentation will answer the question the rest of the world asked us in 2019, and connect how ongoing decision-making is a critical part of the Learning Connection Model and a successful snowsports instructor.

How has your Interski preparations impacted how you approach your clinics, lessons, and coaching?

The work done by the People Skills Task Force has prepared us for this presentation. The impact of the work already started taking place a couple years ago when the task force gave me the language to talk about people skills in a way that focused on behaviors and actions and got away from talking about personality.

This opened the door for me to be myself whenever I’m teaching. I maintain an awareness of how I’m interpreting others, and how to adapt to create authentic interactions that allow me to be me. I think everyone recognizes well-meaning authenticity in another person, and it is the key to creating genuine interactions that add to the positive experiences in a snowsports lesson.

What are you most interested in learning from the other countries and their presentations?

I’m always interested to hear what is important to the other nations and why. Hearing other’s perspectives helps me more clearly identify what makes PSIA-AASI distinct and how our approach meets our guests’ expectations. The other presentations also give me a broader perspective of what is happening in the world. Experiential learning was a common theme I heard in 2019. I wonder if this is still a primary focus around the world and if countries have developed some best practices to make it something we can actuate in our lessons.

What does the Interski 2023 theme, “The Guest Experience is Everything,” mean to you and PSIA-AASI’s approach to snowsports instruction?

I think it is a great theme for Interski. It speaks to the efforts we’ve made in PSIA-AASI in the past few years to focus on the guest experience. When I talk with other instructors from around the world, everyone’s attention is focused on the guest experience from various cultural needs and perspectives. It seems like we’re gradually recognizing that education through instruction is just one part of a great guest experience. As a training director, I think a lot about how adjusting the amount and type of instruction so that our teaching doesn’t get in the way of the guests’ learning, or the opportunity for the guest to enjoy the experience.