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BASI L1 or Instruction

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi there

I'm considering going for my BASI L1 for technique development, rather than any aspirations of becoming an instructor. From what I understand, during the week there is a strong focus on taking your technique back to basics and improvement. Spending a week in fridge with a highly skilled coach sounds beneficial and there is also the structure of the BASI levels to move through.

What do people think? Would it be better to start down the path of BASI training, or is there an alternative for those not looking to become instructors? There are excellent "British" ski schools in France, but their clinics have to strike a balance between instruction and people having a nice holiday. In the UK, I can't think of an alternative week long course.

Thanks, PJ.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Mmmm difficult one. My daughter recently done level one and passed. Basically snowploughed for a week and she didn't think her technique improved that much. Warren Smith doing a series of courses in U.K. Fridges - could that be better???? Honestly don't know which would be better
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@eversolazy, Inside Out has a strong fan club. I have not skied with them, but those who have are pleased with their progress. I have skied with one of the instructors, Rob Rees. Top bloke.
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I'm not aware of anyone doing a week long course indoors in the UK other than L1 instructor courses. We offer a year round development cycle, so if you do each of our monthly one-day clinics over that period we aim to cover as many aspects of your skiing as possible, with a focus on your core skills. We certainly aim to have a back to basics sort of approach, including one course called Building Blocks which uses the progression beginners make (including plough turns) to improve your personal performance skiing.

Whether the L1 is right for you is a personal decision, and you will certainly spend a good part of your on-snow time skiing very slowly in snowploughs and the like. Some people are bored by this, other people see it as an opportunity to understand the fundamentals of skiing and improve their performance.

@achilles, thanks for your kind comments.
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That's the thing. I've skied with Inside out and they are really very good, but repeated day trips to Hemel aren't an option. One of the appeals of the L1 is a full week of training, but not if it's a full week of snowploughing, centred around teaching beginners. Obviously it makes absolute sense for it to be a week of snowploughing, what with it being a teaching qualification! but I've heard conflicted my reports.
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eversolazy wrote:


What do people think?


Unless you are a really bad skier spend the week cross training: mountain biking, other balance stuff, improve core fitness.
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My lad did this with ICE in Val D'Isere at Easter. The times I saw him by chance on the slopes the group weren't snowploughing, a decent level of medium and short turns is required. It improved his basic technique a lot as he is a park rat and hasn't had a lesson for 10 years, but 3 seasons in Whistler and France. He passed and enjoyed it. Yep there is clearly a focus on teaching and the central theme of BASI.

It will improve your skiing, but if I had no desire to teach I'd look for something else.
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I know a lot of people do that thing, but it seems odd to attempt to improve one's own standard by learning how to teach beginners to ski.
If one's own technique is that bad then possibly lessons could fix it, but learning to teach isn't the same as learning.

If I want to learn to drive my car faster around a track then I do that on a track with a professional instructor.
I do not think it would be remotely helpful for me to learn how to teach learner drivers how to reverse park.
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I have twice done a Warren Smith Academy week in Verbier in December. I found them very useful. You are in class most of the day with a short lunch break and are expected to practise before and after class. So hard work. More boot camp than holiday, but good fun all the same. The only snowploughing was with boots open so that you learn how it feels when your weight is in the right place.
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eversolazy wrote:
Obviously it makes absolute sense for it to be a week of snowploughing, what with it being a teaching qualification! but I've heard conflicted my reports.
The L1 criteria include teaching and personal performance skiing, so it won't be an entire week of snowplough (nor will it be an entire week of personal performance skiing). As I said earlier, it can be a good opportunity to improve your understanding of skiing and address any weaknesses in your personal performance by skiing very slowly in a plough or plough parallel turn. However, if you think that working on things like a snowplough, plough parallel turns, basic stance, balance, timing, etc that are developed in what BASI call the Central Theme is a waste of time I'd say that the L1 probably isn't the best option for you. Unfortunately I don't think there is something analogous to the L1 run as a one week course indoors purely for developing personal performance, so it's either one-day clinics that a few ski schools offer, perhaps finding a local race club (indoors or on plastic), or look at the various ski schools that offer week-long coaching in the Alps, with more of a focus on technical development than typical ski school lessons.
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philwig wrote:
I know a lot of people do that thing, but it seems odd to attempt to improve one's own standard by learning how to teach beginners to ski.
If one's own technique is that bad then possibly lessons could fix it, but learning to teach isn't the same as learning.

If I want to learn to drive my car faster around a track then I do that on a track with a professional instructor.
I do not think it would be remotely helpful for me to learn how to teach learner drivers how to reverse park.


Whisper it but skiing is not a difficult sport to improve at IF you have the right fundamentals. If you haven't it's almost impossible. So going back to basics on a L1 course might be the best thing for SOME skiers over any amount of flashy courses.
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eversolazy wrote:
That's the thing. I've skied with Inside out and they are really very good, but repeated day trips to Hemel aren't an option. One of the appeals of the L1 is a full week of training, but not if it's a full week of snowploughing, centred around teaching beginners. Obviously it makes absolute sense for it to be a week of snowploughing, what with it being a teaching qualification! but I've heard conflicted my reports.


I found the L1 very, very useful and also used it for personal development rather than a desire to become a full time instructor. FWIW lots of "good" holiday skiers will fail the L1.

You don't "just" snow plough. But going back to basics and getting your weight on the right ski at the right time so you can do a slow plough parallel improved my overall skiing a fair bit. As did understanding more about balance and posture.

You'll also get video feedback during the week of your short and long turns as well as written feedback and areas to work on after the course. This is what you need to demonstrate/improve over the week that isn't snow plough!

Piste Short
Perform round parallel turns on a blue or easy red piste without traverse
Use a variety of corridor widths
Show the ability to maintain a constant speed
Understand how to achieve effective posture and balance


Piste Long
Cleanly carve the last two thirds of the turn on a green or easy blue piste without traverse
Understand how to achieve effective posture and balance

I put together a short video (mainly for myself) of how it improved me for shorts and one for longs


http://youtube.com/v/wt_UsrA5Otc


http://youtube.com/v/oNusod-6Roc&t=2s
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 You know it makes sense.
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@eversolazy, I've had the same debate with myself. In my mind the option was to either do an 11w course in resort, or take more holidays with more structured intense coaching. I plumped for 2 weeks with 10 days private lessons over the period.

The feedback i got from many people is that through L1 & L2 you'll be learning to ski, but also learning to teach. I believe (and i could be wrong) that i can understand the fundamentals already, without the need to be able to articulate that to others. No doubt being able to assess others and explain how they can change something would be of benefit to me, but being able to assess myself and make the adjustments i need to make will be far more beneficial and i think is a different but connected set of skills. Hence why i decided not to do the L1&L2 course but concentrate on getting some lessons with someone i know who can take me through the 'BASI process' without the need to actually learn to teach or pass exams.

HTH
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Levi215 wrote:
No doubt being able to assess others and explain how they can change something would be of benefit to me, but being able to assess myself and make the adjustments i need to make will be far more beneficial and i think is a different but connected set of skills.

I don't think they are different at all but doing L1 isn't the only way to learn how to do this.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I have also been toying with the idea of doing a BASI L1 this winter - mainly to improve my skiing and to help me better understand its technical building blocks. I don't think I am at the right level to take the exams just yet but I have my first clinic booked with IOS so will seek guidance from Rob/Scott.

I wonder how much of the L1 course is focused on shorts and longs vs perfecting a snowplough?
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Quote:


I wonder how much of the L1 course is focused on shorts and longs vs perfecting a snowplough?


Depends on the strengths/weaknesses of the group I'd say.

General point is that the IOS instructor training week is also a very good way to access a basi trainer without exam pressure! My wife did it with me and she really enjoyed it.
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My performance skiing improved a lot from doing L1 (and a hell of a lot from doing L2). Weirdly, I have also found that doing those BASI courses have helped me in my 'real' job because there's transferable stuff in terms of presentation skills, empathising with learners, using different communication skills to get the message across to people who learn different ways, building rapport with people you've only just met, etc etc. So, you might find that the teach side of things is helpful to you in unexpected ways.
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kitenski wrote:
Quote:


I wonder how much of the L1 course is focused on shorts and longs vs perfecting a snowplough?


Depends on the strengths/weaknesses of the group I'd say.

I'd agree with that. My experience was proportionally little time spent on longs / shorts. Far more time was spent on central theme & teaching practice where the bulk of the group needed more work. Although this was in a mountain setting so the time spent moving around the ski area to get to the pitches used for assessing longs/shorts may also have been a factor. I'd have liked more time on the performance skiing (where I was weaker than many in the group), but I accept that in a group there has to be a balance of the needs of individuals with needs of the group.
It's also worth remembering that the L1 has a classroom element, with an off-snow workshop each evening.
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Maireadoconnor wrote:
My performance skiing improved a lot from doing L1 (and a hell of a lot from doing L2). Weirdly, I have also found that doing those BASI courses have helped me in my 'real' job because there's transferable stuff in terms of presentation skills, empathising with learners, using different communication skills to get the message across to people who learn different ways, building rapport with people you've only just met, etc etc. So, you might find that the teach side of things is helpful to you in unexpected ways.


Strange I just found I mentioned I was a ski instructor every time I spoke to someone snowHead wink
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@Little Martin, well, yes, it's true that pub bragging rights is the main benefit wink
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It sounds like it can vary from group to group, which makes sense. Interesting point about the transferable skills, I hadn't considered that.
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@eversolazy, I also found the L1 (and subsequent L2) excellent for my skiing development. But I agree that it depends on your background. I learned to ski at age 25, and had a series of disastrous group lessons in my first couple of years. Eventually I gave up and just started following friends around the mountain, and developed a rubbish technique for getting myself around. A couple of years later I realised I had serious issues with my skiing and wasn't going to progress unless I addressed them. I then spent the next couple of years spending money on various clinics, private lessons etc... but without any sense of progress. It felt to me that instructors were reluctant to be too critical of my skiing, and any "tips" they gave were just sticking plasters that didn't address the underlying problems. I tried numerous times to explain I knew I was rubbish and needed to go back to basics, and would not be offended... but still didn't get anywhere. The closest I got was a French instructor shouting at me that I needed to get my weight forward, which I didn't understand, and which he couldn't explain to me how to actually do, but was probably the biggest fundamental problem. Eventually I did the L1, and it was absolutely transformational, because they really did pull my skiing apart completely from the bottom up and rebuild it. Obviously it took a lot longer than a week* to address the underlying issues but that was the lightbulb moment.

If you have a good basis it's probably a waste of time. If you want/need to be in an environment where they are brutally honest with you, then it's great.

*I still feel that I am a rubbish skier. The better I get the more aware of my failings I become. You have been warned...
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@eversolazy, The way to improve is through repeated guided good quality practise. InsideOut are an excellent option. You could also look at Snoworks who have courses running throughout the autumn. Nearer to home (and much cheaper), you local dryslope race club will rev up you skiing no end...
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Hi Eversolazy
It all depends upon whether you are currently a skier or not.
I presume you are not.
Personally, I'd find more than a few hours in a fridge soul destroying.
L1 is a teacher qual.
So learn to ski first!
I'd recommend personal performance training with a BASI L4 and see whether the feedback says whether or not you are ready.
I'd recommend Snoworks.
On snowploughing, it takes months and years to learn to snowplough like an expert.
Snowplough isn't limited to beginners.
It forms the basis of race technique too.
If you find that you are not developing by slow speed snowplough turns, it could be that you haven't got the basics drilled-in as autonomous.
D
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Gämsbock wrote:

*I still feel that I am a rubbish skier. The better I get the more aware of my failings I become. You have been warned...


She's really not a rubbish skier wink
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@Maireadoconnor, I generally ski fairly well when you are around Very Happy
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SkiPresto wrote:
... it takes months and years to learn to snowplough like an expert ...

In the sense that some people take quite a while to learn how not to snowplough at all? wink


--
I can't access BASI's own training material, but from observation ...
A snowplough seems to involve angulating the skis in opposite directions in order to hold both inside edges in contact with the snow.
The ski edges are sideslipped: they do not track parallel to the edge.
Initially at least skiers are taught to steer by lateral weight shift, which affects the balance of the drag from each edge.
Speed control is by adjusting the amount of angulation of the skis.

Anyone capable of racing can of course snowplough, but I'm finding it hard to understand which of these things is the basis of a race turn.

I thought the idea was that it's a useful way to get timid beginners to get moving and feel safe. At least some (commercially failed, granted) teaching systems have existed which didn't use it at all.
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So you learn to tip the skis for grip, shift weight to effect the turn and some rotary skills? Sounds pretty useful to me for all turns.
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@philwig, that's not my understanding at all.
Snowplough is about having the learner rotate the feet in opposite directions. The edging is a consequence of the rotation. The shape provides some control over rate of descent and stability. Having learned to rotate feet (in opposite directions) learners first start to turn by rotating both feet in the same direction. As the turns become bigger/ faster they are encouraged to notice the pressure build on the outside ski, and then to balance against it. This allows them to bring the inside ski parallel.
[Yes, this is a one paragraph over-simplification of the process]
If you look at it in those terms then it should be evident how this is a foundation for more advanced skiing, rather than just something learners do before they somehow magically learn to ski 'properly'
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philwig wrote:
SkiPresto wrote:
... it takes months and years to learn to snowplough like an expert ...

... At least some (commercially failed, granted) teaching systems have existed which didn't use it at all.


I've had a 10-year career out of not teaching it and trying to eradicate its shortcomings.

The book is getting closer each day Smile
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Mike Pow wrote:
... I've had a 10-year career out of not teaching it and trying to eradicate its shortcomings.
... The book is getting closer each day Smile
I'm glad to hear that!

--
I'd be interested in any online training material on snowploughs, if anyone knows of a link.
It's easy to find snowboard course materials, but I don't know where the ski stuff can be found.

--
I came across the snowboarding equivalent of snow ploughs in a training manual years after I'd worked out how to snowboard.
They were teaching people to kick the back of the board around - not a technique experts use, and a bad habit which costs a lot to unlearn.

To me this all is like training wheels on a bike.... they will get you doing something quickly, but using them simply postpones the act of having to learn to ride.
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Board kicking is not the same as snowploughing - the former is a bad habit and doesn't even need to taught to be a blight on the snowboarding population.

Snowploughing or stemming remains a valid tool for all skiers in certain situations and is blendable. Yes it's not an efficient way to ski and may be reverted to rather too often by the nervous but I don't see how used properly in a progression it is harmful.
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Board kicking is not the same as snowploughing - the former is a bad habit and doesn't even need to taught to be a blight on the snowboarding population.

Snowploughing or stemming remains a valid tool for all skiers in certain situations and is blendable. Yes it's not an efficient way to ski and may be reverted to rather too often by the nervous but I don't see how used properly in a progression it is harmful.
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philwig wrote:
A snowplough seems to involve angulating the skis in opposite directions in order to hold both inside edges in contact with the snow.
The ski edges are sideslipped: they do not track parallel to the edge.
Initially at least skiers are taught to steer by lateral weight shift, which affects the balance of the drag from each edge.
Speed control is by adjusting the amount of angulation of the skis.
That's a description of a bad snowplough, which can form the basis of bad habits later on in a skiing career. You shouldn't have to unlearn anything from a good snowplough, it should form the foundation of acquiring more skills and more confidence. Unfortunately there seems to be too few instructors who teach a good snowplough, IMO.

As Tubaski said, a good snowplough is based more on steering the skis by rotation rather than throwing the tails of the skis out to create a big plough shape with relatively high edge angles. Given that most of the turns we make on the mountain have some measure of rotation in the blend of steering elements it seems reasonable that we teach that from Day 1 of a skier's experience. A good snowplough will also develop the correct movement patterns, ensuring early pressure and grip in the turn, appropriate rate and range of movement, and well-linked turns with a good turn shape. All of those are fundamental to skiing at a high level, and none of which should be unlearned in order to make progress as a skier. By coincidence I was working on some of those skills today with a strong group of skiers and while we didn't have it in our lesson plan, it would have been perfectly possible to develop aspects of those skills through good snowplough turns.
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rob@rar wrote:
That's a description of a bad snowplough, which can form the basis of bad habits later on in a skiing career. ...
My italics.
wink Of course I personally think there are far too many instructors who teach the things at all, but I'm not expecting a meeting of minds on that.

Nevertheless, would you mind pointing out precisely which parts of my from-memory description are "bad"?

I subsequently checked a few of these out online.
The NZ teaching system for example would appear to include all the elements I described: https://www.nzsia.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/48141-NZSIA-Ski-Instructors-Manual-English.pdf
I can't see anything contradictory or "bad" at all. Check page 104 onwards.

"throwing the tails of the skis out" does sound awful, but that was your suggestion not mine. Did you read my text?
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philwig wrote:
Did you read my text?
Yes, very carefully. You said
Quote:
A snowplough seems to involve angulating the skis in opposite directions in order to hold both inside edges in contact with the snow. The ski edges are sideslipped: they do not track parallel to the edge. Initially at least skiers are taught to steer by lateral weight shift, which affects the balance of the drag from each edge. Speed control is by adjusting the amount of angulation of the skis.
The text in bold is my emphasis, and in my opinion describes a bad snowplough. Increasing angulation can only be done by adopting an ever wider snowplough - this can only be done by pushing the tails of the skis sideways as the tips of the skis are held closer together. When this happens the hips drop backwards in to the "hole" created by a very wide stance, meaning the skier has poor fore/aft balance. Of the three steering elements available to skiers, angulation (edging the ski) is least effective at speed control. Rotating the skis (a smooth, skilful skid around the curve) is far more effective at speed control. This is the primary concern for most beginners, so advocating that they tip their ski on to a relatively big edge angle is poor advice. A snowplough turn is primarily created by rotating the skis, that is (should be) the dominant steering element, not edging the skis. That's what BASI describe in their Central Theme, it's what IASI describe in their Core Skier Development, I'm pretty sure it's what the Canadians have in their Skier Progression and I'm pretty sure the Kiwis have a very similar approach - see p.105 of the link you provided
Quote:
rotational – while maintaining a gliding wedge both femurs will be rotated in the desired direction of travel, the pivot point for this rotational effort is the centre of the foot, the upper body will remain stable, creating some rotational separation between the upper and lower body. The range and the duration of the rotation will dictate the size and shape of the turns
Pushing the skis in to an ever bigger snowplough makes it very much more difficult to achieve what is explained in that NZSIA quote. But the biggest problem with pushing the ski sideways is that a creates a very unhelpful movement pattern which can hold the skier back, and which I spend a lot of time addressing with some of my clients.

As I said, nothing in a well performed snowplough needs to be "unlearned" in order to progress to become a more skilful skier. In fact, good skiers can use a snowplough to identify and address any weaknesses in their performance skiing, something I highlighted in a blog entry a few years back.
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philwig wrote:

Nevertheless, would you mind pointing out precisely which parts of my from-memory description are "bad"?

I can't quote the BASI manual as it's not available unprotected online as far as I know - but I'll try referencing the NZSIA manual you linked. I think the BASI manual is rather clearer expressed regarding the progression I outlined above.

philwig wrote:

A snowplough seems to involve angulating the skis in opposite directions in order to hold both inside edges in contact with the snow.

NZSIA manual page 103 wrote:

A gliding wedge is created by blending lateral and rotational movements of
the legs to form a wedge shape with the skis.

Italics mine. The shape is described as being formed by rotating / moving legs, not by actively angulating (although some edge angle necessarily results)

philwig wrote:

Initially at least skiers are taught to steer by lateral weight shift, which affects the balance of the drag from each edge.

NZSIA manual page 105 wrote:

Shallow Wedge turns
...
Movement Focus
rotational – while maintaining a gliding wedge both femurs will be rotated
in the desired direction of travel, the pivot point for this rotational effort
is the centre of the foot, the upper body will remain stable, creating some
rotational separation between the upper and lower body. The range and the
duration of the rotation will dictate the size and shape of the turns

Italics mine. The movement described is rotation, not lateral weight shift.

philwig wrote:

Speed control is by adjusting the amount of angulation of the skis.


NZSIA manual page 107 wrote:

Basic Wedge Turns
...
• speed is controlled by the shape of the turn and skidding

Italics mine. The snowplough or wedge is described as providing speed control only in the initial fall line running exercises and the very first (almost fall line) turns (and even then it is rotation that creates the angles, not angulation itself being taught). Beyond that speed control is described as being controlled by turn shape/skidding.
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