How I passed my Level-2 Instructors' Exam with Carv
It did occur to me as we kicked off that strange season, that given Covid, I might end up taking my PSIA Level II having only trained with my Carv system, and it was very nearly the case.
My Ski History
I learnt to ski some 30 years ago in Val d’Isere, France and skied intermittently through my 20s and 30s. I returned to skiing more consistently in my 40s when we went skiing as a family - we live in the Berkshires, so lucky us, that is every weekend throughout the season.
Once my son was in ski programs, I took up teaching at our “home” hill of Ski Butternut in Great Barrington, MA. I joined PSIA in 2018 and got my Level I and Child Specialist 1 that season. The 2019-2020 season saw my hopes dashed for an attempted run at my Level II with the early covid-ending to our season.
I am now a full-time ski instructor and trainer at Ski Butternut, which affords me plenty of days on skis, but due to work obligations, limited training opportunities.
How I Discovered Carv
Sometime in early December of 2017, I was trawling the internet for Christmas presents for my husband and son, when this article popped up in my google search… Can the world’s first AI ski instructor beat the real thing? As you can imagine, as an instructor, I was intrigued and frankly, threatened.
However, the fact of the matter was that I had been bumping up against the issue of plenty of time on snow, but limited time with a coach to let me know if I was truly on the right track.
I was fairly confident Carv wouldn’t be stealing my job - I have a winning smile and a bagful of really bad jokes, so beat that AI - but I could tell this device would go some distance in filling the need for a constant, objective, expert witness and hey, presto!, Christmas solved!... now for the rest of the family, hmmm, ski socks are always useful, right?
Read how Carv helped another skier embark on their journey to becoming a ski instructor...
What does Carv do for me?
I was looking for Carv to fulfil a specific requirement, that of feedback on my training for my PSIA Level II. Well, to that end, Christmas comes every day that I’m skiing on my Carv sensors, with an astonishing amount of data gifted each and every time.
Of course, learning any skill is never a linear journey. As a ski coach, I am very aware of this and certainly, I have had days when my ski IQ has disappointed me, but I’ve got to say, dealing as you are with pure, 100% objective and undeniable pieces of biometric data….those days have me dipping my chin, narrowing my eyes and digging deeper.
Frankly, with all this data coming in cold, hard facts gleaned from the multiple sensors in my own ski boots, I feel more legitimately encouraged by this purely binary coach, than the one I can buy a beer for at the end of the day!
How do I use Carv?
As I use it pretty much every day of my season from November to April, I do have a number of different ways that I utilise it.
What ‘mode’ I’m using depends on what I’m doing and how much time I have to do it in. I might start my day with a warm-up of some drills, dipping into whatever discipline seems to be called for that day.
Then if I have more time to build on that, I might challenge myself to claw up a notch or two on areas of challenges I’ve been working on, rotary perhaps or earlier edge engagement. If it’s an all too rare “all play day”, I’ve always got coach Carv to nudge me in the right direction on the chairlift and a ski IQ ranking to [hopefully, if I’m a good girl] reward me at the end of the fun.
I’ve always got coach Carv to nudge me in the right direction on the chairlift
And yes! often those days when you’re giggling all the way down the mountain are the ones when breakthroughs happen and on top of all that fun, there’s perhaps a “personal best milestone” to celebrate apres ski!
Serious training days are full-on focused drills. Sounds gruelling, but these challenges Carv supplies are aligned with my goals [and not just for PSIA exam tasks, these are skiing fundamentals, the better you are at these, the better a skier you are, simple as that].
The design of these challenges with a game format keeps you engaged and focused on the task at hand. Not sure of what you’re doing? The Carv peeps haven’t forgotten us visual learners: just refer to their videos.
Finding a “task” really hard to gain improvement on? May I suggest you go off and free ski a couple of runs, perhaps go back a few notches to refresh yourself on the skill, or switch out to another discipline for a bit and perhaps you’ll find, like me, that Hey, I can crack this, after all!
My Training Day with Carv
How I use Carv depends on what I'm doing and how much time I have to do it in, but here's a run-down of an average day on the slopes:
- I'll often start the day with some Training Mode drills, whatever is called for on that day.
- Then I'll head over to the Monitors to claw up a notch or two on areas I’ve been working on, Parallel Index or Early Edging perhaps.
- If I'm getting stuck somewhere, I tend to go off and free ski a couple of runs, or perhaps go back a few notches to refresh myself on the skill.
- If I get an "all play day", though, I like to know that I've got Carv nudging me on the chairlift.
Further uses for Carv
I have been known to occasionally break out my Carv app in lessons. It’s a wonderful visual tool and I often use it to illustrate pressure and edge timing, something that is challenging to verbalise. Plus it’s a great icebreaker. If you are having a hard time connecting with a morose and mopey tween/teen, try a bit of tech! I’ve found when I show my app to students who think they’ve mastered skiing and perhaps feel they are “above and beyond” instruction, it may dawn on them that we are never finished learning and, perhaps, upon seeing the stats of a Snow-Pro, the penny drops that there’s always something more to learn.
So, I have outlined how I use Carv for my own particular ski journey, but I also regularly recommend it to my students as a way to take those skills we’ve worked on during a lesson and utilise the feedback to keep them on track.
How many times have you taken lessons, got some great tips, even made a couple of breakthroughs only to find the next time on skis, you’re no longer so sure of yourself and what was that thing he/she said again?
Ski lessons are expensive, ski holidays more so, days on snow often too few. If you can kick off your holiday with a lesson to get you back on track, kick any bad habits to the curb and get recommendations for aspects of your skiing to work on, then Carv can take over with monitoring that you’re actually doing what you think you are!
Looking to the future...wouldn’t it be nice if when you hit a plateau and cannot for the life of you get your Ski IQ to budge, you could just book a lesson with a Carv certified instructor, who can partner with you to coach you out of your rut. And don’t forget, the Daily Leaderboards make for some great apres-ski banter!
The Carv Advantage
Another thing I love about Carv is it’s all about the skiing. Carv doesn’t care which mountain you’re on, what you’re wearing, the calibre of the boots, the cost of the skis. Most of my data is gleaned on a 1000’ vertical family orientated ski hill in the Berkshires, but my Ski IQ ranks me against skiers all over the world, whether they are in Aspen or the Alps. That’s pretty cool.
Oh, and if something goes wrong…...never fear, the elves at Carv have replaced units for me with no fuss nor muss and in reindeer speed. Bear in mind, those poor units of mine had been out and about in all rain, snow, sleet, bashed by boots, schlepped back and forth to mountains, pinched by chairlifts, frozen solid with packed snow, and baked by the sun for probably 75+ days on snow before they complained of exposure!
A 20/21 milestone in my Carv journey
Of course, the 20/21 season was unlike any other and had those of us working in Snowsports having to cover more ground and responsibilities with less staff [due to covid concerns a lot of our staff sat this past season out]... so there was even less interaction with my trainers and fellow-coaches and even less time to train. Despite Covid restrictions, PSIA managed to put on their exams and I felt armed with my secret weapon of my trainer in my boots, Carv. I used it to fill that training void, as she has before [yes, MY Carv is a girl, think Lindsay meets Peekaboo meets Michaela] - so that weird 20/21 season had me switching on the app every single run I could to make each and every one count towards training, training and more training.
It did occur to me as we kicked off that strange season, that given Covid, I might end up taking my PSIA Level II having only trained with my Carv system, and it was very nearly the case, with the heavier burden on a much smaller Snowsports staff eradicating almost all training and free ski time. However, my Director, Jay Barranger and I did manage to steal one day of training at the mountain where my exam was to be taken. The end result, with that one day and Carv taking up the slack the rest of the time, on January 28th I passed my L2 ski and on March 16th, I passed my L2 teaching! As I was cheered and congratulated by my colleagues, I was, in turn, congratulating Carv on a job well done.
Now to Level III! A planned trip to Zermatt seems like a good kick-off to training, don’t you agree?!
Written by: Liza Pinder-Steinmetz