Skiing Triple Digits: Days 20-25, Pizza Level I

As a newbie ski instructor, I completed a ton of training early in December, and at some point, they (“they,” being Vail Resorts) just had to let me put on a blue uniform and go for it out there on my own. During Days 20-25 of my Skiing Triple Digits Quest, I audited two lessons and got to try out my teaching technique, and I also passed a three-day Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA, or “pizza”) Level I Certification Exam. Here’s how it all shook down:

Day 20: Friday, December 13
Vail, First Day in Blue

day 20

Today, I audited a class and got to practice teaching a group of kids how to use ski poles. I worked with another instructor, Calen, but I also got to get out there in a blue uniform, which is kind of weird when people come up to you and ask random questions like…where’s the nearest groomed black run?…or…where’s lost and found? Just because I have on a uniform now doesn’t mean that I necessarily know these things any better now than I did seven seasons ago when I arrived in Vail, but now I’m supposed to know. Er, still figuring it out.

Day 21: Monday, December 16
Vail, Follow-up New Hire Training

day 21

I was reunited today with my crew for a final day of training. Laughs and smiles on the gondola…I really love these people!

Day 22: Tuesday, December 17
Vail, PSIA Level I Certification Exam

day 22

Today, I spent all day at an indoor training session (snooze) for the first day of a three-day PSIA Level I Certification Exam. We watched and listened as the speaker flipped through a PowerPoint presentation. When it was time to go, I bolted out of there and got in touch with my gal-pal Tammy, who met me when she got off work for a full-moon skin up Arrowhead. The skiing down wasn’t great…but it was better than being indoors all day long!

Day 23: Wednesday, December 18
Vail, PSIA Level I Certification Exam

day 23

Today was the second day of the three-day Level I Cert, and we all got to hang out with our trainer and examiner, Dave, who normally works at Beaver Creek. Even though it could be nerve wracking to get evaluated in front of peers on ski maneuvers, teaching technique, and skier analysis, Dave made the process less intimidating…and even fun.

Day 24: Thursday, December 19
Vail, PSIA Level I Certification Exam

day 24

Today was the final day of our Level I Certification Exam, and I passed! Whoo hoo! New knowledge, a bit of professionalism, and a slight raise were my rewards. By the end of the three days, I felt like I’d really gotten to know everyone in my group, and we all had fun going through the process together.

Day 25: Friday, December 20
Vail, New Hire Audit

day 25

Today, I completed my final audit requirement, which meant that I was officially ready to teach as a ski instructor at Vail. I skied with Christy’s class and helped as needed. Overall, the training and certification process was a positive one. I had lots of fun, met a bunch of new people, and learned a ton in the process. Plus, working with kids (and adults who act like kids) is super refreshing. This is the type of work environment where it’s ok to laugh, ok to have a passion for skiing, and ok to end the day with a snow angel.

Want more backstory?
Read about the quest here:
Skiing Triple Digits: The Quest

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