N-Mail by Jim Sanders

Greetings Nords!  N-mail is back, just for you.  It’s been a while.  It seems like it’s been a good seven years since there was an N-mail.  That’s because, it has been seven years.  Where does the time go?  I guess I was busy skiing.


For those of you who have never received an N-mail, please don’t be afraid.  N-mail is a good thing.  And it probably won’t hurt.  Its primary purpose is to communicate information about things Nordic (Nordic meaning XC & Telemark, in my Lexicon) that take place around PSIA-RM to you, the member.  It’s also an opportunity for me, the N-mail staff, to have a forum to spout my opinions and observations about Nordic stuff around RM and elsewhere, mainly for your entertainment.  Just like with Nordic skiing, everybody is welcome to join in on the fun.  So please, read on.


It’s been a bit of a slow start to the season as far as snow.  I hope that by the time you read this, things are different.  Some areas around our region have been consistently good at providing early season XC skiing over the last few years.  I thought it would be nice to give these areas a little recognition, so you know where to go if the snow is still thin.  With our consistent cold temps, Summit County Nordic areas have always been good at getting open on or before Thanksgiving.  Now Breckenridge Nordic, Frisco Nordic, and Gold Run Nordic all have snow making capability, so XC is even more consistently available.  Crested Butte Nordic and Grand Mesa, home of Grand Mesa Nordic Council, have done a great job of getting open early for a while, and they are awesome places to ski.  So start skiing, it’s out there.


Now that we’re immersed in the Holiday rush, it’s important to have something to look forward to, like Nordic events in January.  Register now, as you’ll have to pay a late fee if you’re within 3 weeks of the event.  No one likes late fees.  There will be an XC Level 1 Prep & Assessment at Vail Nordic starting Jan. 8, an XC L1 Assessment at Telluride Nordic on Jan. 13, as well as “XC Transitions in Classic Skiing” at Telluride Nordic on Jan. 8, and Classic and Skate Skills Improvement Clinics at Catamount Nordic on Jan. 25 & 26!  Go to psia-rm.org to see this season’s event calendar, get more details, and register.  You really should not miss any of this!


You may have noticed there have been many changes to our XC technical and certification resources, information, models, materials, and processes. And these changes/updates are amazing.  Right now, thanks to collaboration and hard work from PSIA Nords from all over the country, we have XC Education and Certification materials available for free on line that are more complete, more helpful, more interconnected, and more useful than ever before.  We have “E-Learning” courses for “Delivering the XC Beginner Experience,” XC Level 1, and XC Level 2 (brand new!!).  Everything makes sense and fits together really well.  These resources will help you prepare for certification, or if you are already certified, help you hone, modernize, and solidify your skiing/technical, teaching, MA, and people skills and knowledge.  It’s great!  But there’s a catch.  You have to actually take the time to look at and read it.  Sure, there are lots of fancy names like “Performance Guide,” “Learning Outcome,” and “Fundamentals.”  But the more you use these tools and fancy words, the more familiar and comprehendable they become.  The XC Fundamentals and Performance Guides (PGs) may be the most useful reference materials we’ve had in a long time.  The Performance Guide is not spellbinding bedside reading for most of us. However, what I’ve found is the more I go back to the materials, reading, reviewing, and checking on concepts, cues, and ideas, the more valuable it becomes.  Now that I’m “getting it,” I use this information on-snow everyday in my lessons and clinics.  Especially if you are going to an Assessment this season, dig into this material now.  It will pay big dividends!


This brings me to the last topic for this N-mail:  Nordic Culture and training/preparation for certification.  Most of the Nords I’ve met over the years are passionate about XC and/or Telemark and love to learn and improve.  And yet, at RM Nordic Certification events, many candidates have not adequately prepared or trained for the event.  As Nords, we’re very good at skiing lots, training for fitness, and getting “tips” and cues from talented and successful competitors, instructors, and athletes in our sport. But we seem to be less passionate and effective at having a consistent technical and teaching “training mindset” and behavior.  In Alpine Ski Schools, I see training cultures.  Certification training groups are established at the beginning of the season. Groups meet and train together every week, all season long. Folks set up informal weekly Movement Analysis evenings, often as social events or pot lucks. Instructors come and watch ski videos and practice MA together.  You can even drink an adult beverage at these informal events.  I’ve participated in these, and it’s really fun.  You develop strong friendships, and you truly improve your skills and knowledge.  Why don’t we have this as a part of our Nordic culture? This is both a suggestion and rhetorical question.  There are some very real differences in the Alpine and Nordic business and culture models that would be some of the answers to this question, but if we love to learn and constantly strive to be better skiers and instructors, why don’t we (You!) embrace this idea and try it?  Just a thought…


Well, that’s it for now.  I look forward to seeing every one of you this winter at a Telemark or XC event.  Until then, you can e-mail n-mail at hugeglide@aol.com.  See ya’.




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