Published On: April 25, 2023By 12 min read

Interski 2023

Levi, Finland

Submitted By: Barclay Moore

A true education vacation.  I will try to give you a feel for what I experienced attending the Levi Interski23 Congress.  The flight Reno-Dallas-Helsinki-Kittila-Levi was flawless, even extra seats over the water and they picked us up in a bus at the Kittila airport.  Bonus, out of the window over Greenland we got to experience the Aurora Borealis, northern lights.   An excellent way to start the trip on our way to the arctic circle.  Levi is way up there close to Santa Claus and reindeer, (those we ate everyday).

Sunday was a free day to be guided around the mountain and get used to the lift system and snow.  Levi supplied the guides.  Did I tell you it was cold?  Well it was a bit.  Squeaky snow everyday. Some nasty wind one day, but good all in all.  Slopes were mellow and groomed with some fresh snow mixed in.  Snowmaking everywhere and lights on all trails.  Its dark all day in December and January, yuk no California sun.  Now the days are long and the sun sets about 9pm, soon in summer it won’t set at all.  Opening ceremonies and some show skiing to start everyone off with music and fun skiing.

Mike Porter started the day off with a nice bit of history of Interski and what to expect from various countries and why they do what they do.  He really helped to set the stage.

Each morning began with Technical Demos from 6 or 7 teams showing and explaining their skiing philosophies on the demo hill.  Slow maneuvers through dynamic skiing, snow plow through carving, short and long, etc.  Very interesting to watch and discuss with my friend Mike Porter.  Then at 10 am every day we went to our chosen workshops from different country’s demo team clinicians.  One in the morning and one in the afternoon, nine in all, missing just one Wednesday slot to have some free time to explore.  Lectures in the afternoon before dinner and maybe a keynote presentation in the evening followed by show demos under the lights, great choreography, some of it scary.  That went on for five days pretty much non stop, pretty much tiring with jet lag and all.   Food was plenty, 3 meals a day, buffet, all you could eat, I ate and ate, and gained 4 pounds, yippee.  Rooms were quiet and adequate, and each had it very own sauna, nice when you are cold.  Northern Lights again the first night at the hotel, everyone just standing in the parking lot taking photos and enjoying the effects of the solar wind smashing into the upper atmosphere.

Now for some content.

First of all the best content was visual, no translation necessary.  There were 200 demo team members skiing all over the hill.  Next to you, in front of you, under the lifts and near the T bars.  Never seen so many great skiers.  And my general thought was “they are all good”.  When skiing up to speed they all look pretty much the same.  In other words skiing has become almost universal because of the skis.  Everybody knows how to carve a turn.  The best of the best are dynamic and versatile.  The differences occur in their early development philosophies.  The technical demos showed some serious differences up through basic parallel turns.  For example:  the Croatian’s snowplow parallel opens with the uphill leg and with a definite up motion and tipping the upper body outside. As they went faster their upper body tended to lean in a bit more than others.   Germany has a nice blend of skills not too much of anything, more like an American process.  Switzerland moves tall up and forward at the beginning of a snowplow turn.  Snow plow steering turns aka wedge christies almost everyone shows with a uphill ski opening to a definite weight shift, how much steering of the ski varied.  Argentina opens the downhill ski first to start their wedge christie, that was different, to promote inside leg moves early on, but possibly an abstem imo.  Americans show a bi-wedge and narrower snowplow.  Mike Rogan even called it a snowplow when he described it over the PA system.  Its still a wedge turn no matter what the translation.  Japan shows a lengthening of the outside leg early in their progression and carry it through to their level hip thoughts later on.  Korea not too much up and down, and have calmed down the retraction turns from years past, strong and compact.  There are differences inside each team as personal glitches show up, but I could not say they were national guidelines.  Austrian went up and over the outside ski when slow.  Bulgarians dropped their inside hands in general but the skis ran well.  Belgian’s had high inside hands.  Take a look on line at some of the Technical Demos and you will see what I mean, good fun to have heard and seen the differences and more importantly the similarities.

Every demo team member and I mean every one skied on slalom skis.  There was no fat skis at Levi.  Europe likes narrow skis.  France and Italy were not present, politics in the ski instruction world, go figure.

Workshops

I did all possible 9 on hill clinic slots.  Two each day excepting Wednesday afternoon.  The group sizes were big so were more of a show and tell format with some skiing of exercises and drills.  Certainly some collaboration and reciprocal teaching going on, but not always.  Very little personal feedback in groups of 15 -25 participants.  But no matter there was a bunch of good info even if not the greatest teaching.

Monday AM, UK BASI, Pretty straight forward explanation of how they evaluate instructors at Level 4, short turn focus.  Started out with flat skis and added grip to the turn after the fall line, added tails to follow track of the tips to start carving.  Finished with short turns and longer short turns.  Nothing inspiring here, basic QR code sharing and reading off the phone.  www.basiinterski.org.uk

PM  Australia, Richard Jameson.  Description of the Aussi skills model and teaching philosophy.  Four skills: Rotary, Edging, Pressure and Stance(not balancing!)  He used a DJ sound board with sliders to mix the skills to describe any maneuver.  I was a great analogy that he drew in the snow each time we stopped after a task.  The stance never changed and only the mix of the other 3 skills developed the skier and outcomes of the ski on the snow.  Steering, carving, railing and pure carve discussion.  Carving is not the same as pure carving in their descriptions.  I will show it to you sometime on the hill.  Similar to our skill model as it was born from the USA in the 70’s.  Really nicely done by Richard, clear concise presentation.  Bravo.  www.apsi.net.au/interski23

Tuesday AM, Japan, Ryu Takeda, hope I got the name correct.  National Technical Ski Champion of Japan.  The group was large and he spoke no english, so everything was through a translator.  He was describing the national philosophy of Japanese skiing.  We started with finding your dominant eye and how that research could relate to your dominant turn. There are 3 main points to their skiing:  the Set position, edging, and pressure.  He started by showing the set position something that is evident through all skiing. A very ankle and knee focused stance that carries your static weight over the inside edge of the outside ski, with pelvis level with slope, traversed in that set position.  Very precise in everything he did.  Added edge release and grip again in traverse, then some no edge turns, always in the set position.  As he demonstrated sitting on a toilet, “PLEASE, not like this.”  Bend the ski from the middle.  When asked if he goes front middle back on the ski, “No only middle”.  Stand on your foot where you would crush a can, more toward heel than ball of foot.  When asked how he dissipates the pressure at the end of the turn, “You don’t “ was his answer. That was easy to understand.  Good thoughts that made perfect sense when you watched him ski.  Precise, precise, precise.  Best demos I have ever seen.  Awesome workshop.  Find him on you tube to see him ski.

  1. Switzerland.An overview of their technical skiing system.  In a snowplow there is a bit of shift to the outside ski as the pressure builds in the turn.  A slight angling at the hip to coincide with hip angles at higher speeds.  Common movements through the whole progression was emphasized.  We skied cross over, cross under and ultimately cross through, where leg lengths, long and short, change simultaneously as pressure and steering go to outside ski.  Nothing new here just good traditional skiing.  Some counter at all speeds.

Wednesday AM. Canada, JF Beaulieu, the you tube phenom.  Unbelievably the group was only 6 people and it made a huge difference.  We were able to interact and talk in the gondola.  JF is an amazing coach and skier.  He overviewed the Canadian system using the triangle diagram, see it on their website.  Ski performance is key in his eyes.  Dealing with pitch, roll and yaw of the ski on the snow.  Like the USA along the length of the ski, edge the ski  side to side and twisting the ski around a pivot point.  We played with the pendulum ideas of front to back as well as the more common side to side ideas.  Start on the fore ski and move to the middle and rear as the turn progresses.  Move only 2 centimeters!!, not enough to see, but enough to effect the steering angle at the beginning of the turn.  Tails will displace just a bit to control the speed at the beginning as you gas pedal the middle to end. Lead with the inside knee to make the initiation simultaneous.

Less lead change, less counter, strong outside leg gluteus involvement.  Too much content to write about.  But all good stuff.

Thursday AM.  Sweden, Demo team members both taught part of the session.  Experiential Learning. Explaining that the Swedes want to incorporate experiential learning into all aspect of the association.  We paired off and did some reciprocal helping of our own skiing.  It worked because everyone in the group was a level 4 teacher or coach.  Well done but just good teaching to me, nothing new or earth shattering.

PM Czech.  Demo team member, Roland.  Improving the short turn.  Good energy and teaching style. Very traditional content.  Start with up-unweighting, calm that down, stabilize the upper body  etc.  The ski is nothing without you.  It is you that must talk to the ski, add energy and make it do what you want.  Skis don’t turn by themselves.  Used traditional exercises but kept the group laughing.

Friday AM.  Slovenia, No Base No Race.  Demo team members, former racers.  Their idea is to have every child be given the opportunity to become a world cup racer.  So they make sure every lesson deals with good fundamentals and the start of using brushes and gates very early on.  We ran 4 different brush and gate courses on firm snow.  Corridors, turn shape courses and real gate intro courses.  Good fun and I learned a few things to set next year to train instructors.

PM Austria.  Half indoor Half on snow.  Indoor was a talk about their system to get new instructors certified all the way through demo team level.  Approximately 900 hours of required training and evaluations to make it all the way.  Outside we skied through their lower level methodology. They emphasize the basic position.  A position that is evident throughout the skier development.  From a snow plow they rise and open the uphill ski transfer the weight to an edged and skidded ski, closing to a parallel turn.  They do not say that the snowplow turn is steered but wait until the parallel portion to call it steering.  Not sure what they call the activity in a snowplow turn.  Lost in translation, although his english was perfect. We had time for a couple of more runs but they quit early. 🙁

That’s enough stuff, for now.  Obviously I could not attend every county’s workshops or lectures but this was a start into the mindset of international ski teaching.  Maybe other ideas will come from other attendees.  Hope so.

Keynote with Ann Shorling was a huge hit, Gender Equity in the Snow Sports Industry.

Its on you tube and worth the time to look.

A keynote from the Slovenian childrens development ski program  www.skieasy.eu

Good stuff.

Lecture panel discussion with Germany and Switzerland outlining similarities and differences in the instructor certification programs.  The only difference is that the Swiss use slalom skis and the Germans use all mountain skis. Got some smiling heated looks.  Interesting.

Lecture by the USA on Decision making in Ski teaching.  Our team did a nice job of it with 3 coaches each adding something.  I think it was pretty darn good but cannot decide.:-)

No decision has been made as to where Interski 2027 will be.  If you have the chance I think it is worth it.  If you want to talk about what went on call me or email me anytime.

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