SkillsQuest Article By Ellen Post Foster


This ski season, sign up for an action-filled SkillsQuest clinic to improve your skiing and teaching! SkillsQuest is a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) program designed to encourage racers to learn to ski well in order to ski fast. This is your opportunity to learn about the technical side of racer development and come away skiing better and with ideas you can use in your lessons. Taking place out-of-the-gates, SkillsQuest is all about skill development.

Scott Birrell, PSIA-RM Children’s Examiner, Rocky Mountain Trainer, and APSI Level 4 Examiner, attended the clinic last winter at Loveland. He summed up the experience by saying, “SkillsQuest was a fun event and added to my bag of tricks for teaching. It was a good insight into what the US Ski Team is trying to achieve with developing athletes and their current team.”

So, what is SkillsQuest all about? It’s a program in the U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine Training System comprised of specific tasks to address pressure-, edge-, and rotational-control skills at different levels of athlete development. It is divided into 6 phases that consider age, maturity, and experience level in pursuit of long-term athlete development. As shown in this table, tasks for each skill increase in challenge as athletes progress:


In the clinic, you’ll ski through the tasks for Phases 1–4 and some of the tasks for Phases 5–6, and you’ll learn about the requirements for perfect execution. In this regard, Ron Kipp, USSA Alpine Sport Education Manager explains, “Participation in a SkillsQuest clinic will enhance your understanding of ski/snow interaction while augmenting movement analysis expertise.”

These tasks are reference points for athlete performance and provide guidance for coaches. The framework is filled in with other training designed to refine these tasks and apply the skills learned to skiing in and out of the gates. This is also addressed in the PSIA-RM clinic.

Scott Birrell added, “Since completing the SkillsQuest clinic, I have incorporated a number of ideas into my own clinics and lessons. I have used the clinic handouts and online videos with students to supplement my explanations, and as incentive to work on specific tasks or drills.”

During your 2-day clinic, you’ll address balance and athletic stance, upper body discipline, outside ski to outside ski, early lower leg activation, ski-snow contact, pole usage, and more.

In ski racing, “winning or losing is tenths or even hundredths of a second, which is the differences in a few degrees of rotation, a degree or two of edge angle and when the ski is pressured along its length. These are all very small and sometimes imperceptible amounts. SkillsQuest drills allow the skier to learn to make these minute adjustments unconsciously.” ~SkillsQuest Evaluator Manual

Please join USSA Sports Education clinicians and certified SkillsQuest evaluators on your quest to expand your knowledge of skiing through the facet of ski racing.

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