Ask a Nordic ski instructor why they teach cross country (XC) skiing and they’ll reply that they celebrate the community and culture of the sport to share that experience with as many people as possible.
Professional ski instructors come in all shapes and sizes and from many different backgrounds. There are part-time and full-time instructors and while some prefer teaching beginners or kids, because they enjoy introducing new people to the sport, others are coaching competitive athletes at the highest level.
The Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI) is the national organization in the USA that offers professional certification and certificate programs for those instructors looking to gain peer-reviewed recognition of their skills and knowledge. PSIA-AASI develops national certification standards with the industry partners that provide the foundation for these credentialing programs.
The organization is comprised of regional divisions. As of the end of June 2013 there were 893 certified PSIA-AASI instructors for cross country skiing and 1,801 certified instructors for telemark skiing (usually done at alpine ski areas). Canada has the Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors (CANSI), a similar organization had 781 members in 2012-2013 including 583 xc ski instructors and 236 telemark ski instructors (some members have both certifications).
These professional organizations are endorsed by the Cross Country Ski Areas Association and its president Chris Frado, said, "For the best ski experience possible, take a lesson with a certified ski instructor."
The current PSIA-AASI education/certification standards provide a training focus and represent a minimum competency for each level of certification. There are specific PSIA-AASI manuals about teaching cross country skiing and telemark skiing. CANSI has four certification levels in XC skiing and three in telemark. Certification courses are organized and run by six different regions across Canada, following standards established by the National Technical Committee. Besides regular professional development days, CANSI members have access to a variety of technical material such as a very detailed and comprehensive Instructor Manual, newsletters and videos. Professional members also benefit from a liability insurance coverage when teaching, and enjoy discounts with several industry-leading equipment suppliers.
From professional development to expanding skiing abilities to share the ski experience with others, to making lifelong friends and memories, PSIA-AASI is devoted to helping members make their time as an instructor as rewarding as possible. Upon taking and passing the Level I, Level II or Level III certification exams, a member becomes a certified member or instructor.
PSIA-AASI provides much more than just a membership; it provides a connection to people who are excited about skiing and sharing that passion with others. It provides a connection to sliding on snow that has the power to change lives.
The organization has hundreds of discount products from official suppliers and the PSIA-AASI Accessories Catalog available to members at a discount. Other membership benefits include attending clinics, attaining nationally recognized certification, online teaching resources and printed technical manuals, 32 Degrees magazine, instructional aid products, and liability insurance coverage.
The costs associated with becoming a certified PSIA-AASI Nordic instructor are about $150 for attending a 2-day event in one of the regions where you would learn the particulars of teaching (covering material in the Nordic ski instruction manual) and $127 annual dues. For example, the PSIA-AASI events in 2012-13 sanctioned by the Eastern Division were held at 13 ski areas in six different states across the region during the winter (3 in Vt., 3 in N.H., 3 in N.Y., 2 in Maine, 1 in Mass., 1 in W.Va). Attending courses for CANSI can cost $250-300 but this includes the first year of annual membership, which costs $70 per year. If interested in sharing the passion of XC skiing and becoming a certified instructor, contact the PSIA-AASI or in CANSI to find the respective division.
Photo: Teaching cross country skiing (CANSI)