Professional Development Plan: National Team Member Kevin Jordan

Congratulations to the 2021-24 PSIA-AASI National Team for all the work they’ve done promoting, supporting, and assisting with the development of PSIA-AASI education materials, programs, and activities at all levels.

As the team enters its final season, team coaches and members reflect on the work they’ve done for the association, their personal accomplishments, and their professional development plans — including how they think those plans can help you reach your goals this season.

PSIA Alpine Team Member Kevin Jordan

Q: This team has achieved a lot in a short time including representing the association at Interski 2023, continued refinement of the Learning Connection, and working toward the target date to align certification processes. What achievements stand out to you?

A: Interski is an achievement that stands out. The event was like a marathon. I remember the buzz that National Team members created between the on-snow presentations, indoor presentations, and National Team member Ann Schorling’s keynote. Plus, it helps when the Austrians and the Swiss are saying, “Hey, did you see the American’s synchronized skiing pass? It was really good.” That was a highlight for me. You know you did something right when the rest of the world is taking notice.

Q: Where do you want to improve this season, especially in regard to the individual people, teaching, and technical skills of the Learning Connection?

A: People skills: I like the use of the SBI (Situation-Behavior-Impact) Model. I am trying to incorporate that into my delivery of feedback for on-snow performances and my feedback on my own and other people’s people skills. Say that three times fast!

Teaching skills: I am striving to ask questions and get more content from the group. I find it really inspirational when much of the content is coming from the group and they all want to share, as well as collaborate. It feels more like guiding and facilitating conversation versus presenting.

Technical skills: I am using the alpine fundamentals to anchor my own core beliefs. I had an “aha” moment at Interski. I was participating in the Czech Republic presentation on mirror neurons. They asked us to perform a basic parallel turn. I remember a tall gentleman from Poland who when he did the basic parallel, he shot straight up like he was coming right out of his boots, then he made a turn, and then sank down. I remember saying to myself, “Wow. He must really believe in that.”

I believe there are advantages and disadvantages to everything we do in skiing. It was this crystal-clear moment of “Oh. Now I get it. That is what a core belief is.” It is what you value in your skiing and the skiing of others. It was so evident that this is what they must value in Poland, or at the very least, this is what this gentleman values, a strong vertical movement at the beginning of the turn and a strong flexion movement at the end. It helped that he was 6’5″ so I could really see it!

Q: What other professional goals do you have in terms of teaching and skiing?

A: I am trying to simplify my language, my directions, etc. I am constantly asking myself, how could I have said that differently or been clearer?

Another teaching goal is to gain a better understanding of and become more involved in the PSIA-RM RMT (Rocky Mountain Trainer) process so I can better help those who are training for this credential.

In my own skiing, I want to get better at dragging my hip on the snow. Not in every turn. I just want to have the option to drag my hip on the snow when I choose to. However, I realize that the ability to do this is seen as a “show turn” so it is not the end all of skiing. Yet, playing with movements is fun and a challenge for me.

Another professional goal is to work on my mental game. I like using visualization and other strategies to achieve success. I often visualize what the turns will look like and where I need to put the apexes of the turns.

I think we could talk more about mental health. It has a stigma that “maybe something is wrong with me” if I need it or use it. I work with a professional counselor/licensed therapist, and she is great at helping me bring attention to my mental game.

If you are going for a certification goal, talk to someone and look for strategies you could implement when you are stressed. Let’s face it, being tested or evaluated can be stressful so find some ways to minimize the stress. Maybe deep breathing activities will work for you. Maybe you will find something else.

Q: How can you work with and learn from other instructors on this journey?

A: I am learning every day. This learning might be from groups that I am interacting with, or from peers, or even friends from other countries thanks to Interski. I remember Jim “Schanzy” Schanzenbaker (National Team Member alumni) saying something along the lines of training people to take his job. I subscribe to this philosophy and want to be a resource. I am happy to share what has worked for me and what hasn’t, with the caveat that it may or may not work for others because everyone’s journey is unique.

Q: How can your professional development plan help other instructors work to achieve their goals?

A: You have to set mini goals or stepping stones along the way. With a goal like the National Team, one needs a regional endorsement, which many regions held last season. For this season, look for little goals along the way. Maybe it is something as simple as skiing underneath a liftline and having one of your peers come up to you and say, “Wow. Nice turns.”

For instructors with a certification goal in mind, set a mini goal of attending a prep clinic and set some smaller goals within that. For example, I want to nail my short turns or my basic parallel demos. How will you know that you nailed them? Is it the feedback from the clinician, from your peers, or both? Define the goal more so you can hit it out of the park!

The other piece of advice I would offer is use your resources. Find those mentors, trainers, coaches, friends, etc. who are willing to help you achieve these goals and support you along the way.

Q: What does being a member of the PSIA-AASI community mean to you, and how do you share that sense of belonging with the people you teach, as well as other snow pros? 

A: Being a member of the community is like being a member of a family. I remember my first National Academy and thinking, “Wow, these are my people. They love to ski. They love to talk about skiing and ‘nerd out’ on it.” How I share that sense of belonging with others is simple: I believe everyone has something to offer so I look for the opportunities in others. This might be a breakthrough in their skiing technique, how they think about skiing, or how they interact with others. Regardless, there is always opportunity.