The Truth About PSIA

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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Ihamilton » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:38 pm

Too good snowtravel. I kept looking several times a night to see if your new post was in. You didn't disappoint. Do you know if Bob is omnipresent? I am sure Bob is in WB and every other major resort in Canada. I understand he can change his appearance but not his personality. Is he kind of a prick, especially when around ski instructors who actually teach skiing?
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Fri Oct 04, 2013 6:52 pm

The Vail corporate strategy is well planned and it's actually brilliant. Look at the Lindsey Vonn/US Ski TEam connection, they probably have control with their dollars of the US Ski Team. The latest campaign is from Vonn. She says, "I'm so happy to come back to Minnesota where I grew up skiing at Afton Alps" She didn't ski at Afton Alps. Vail now owns this ski area near St Paul. They pay Lindsey Vonn as a Vail representative athlete, so the US ski team connection is obvious. I'm sure Vail donates a huge amount to the Ski Team, and Bill Marolt's salary. I don't think anyone has put all the tentacles of Vail's world ski domination plan together yet. You as readers of the PMTS forum are the first to get this. Watch how Vail eats up Southern Hemisphere resorts in the next few years. We know all the world's best ski teams train there. This is not lost on Vail Ass..
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby snowtravel » Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:22 am

Thanks to everyone for the feedback, it makes this worthwhile and gets me stoked to keep writing. I have much more material to cover, if you all want to read it.

@ Ihamilton
Bob's not just everywhere, he's everything. He is our boss, mentor, examiner, coach, representative, advocate, and friend. Unlike normal humans, he doesn't concern himself with nonsense like "conflicts of interest" or bias or personal interest. He's so ethical, he can serve two masters, take both sides of a transaction, balance all the interests of a national organization, and do a really swell job helping everyone, and all while guaranteeing his own present and future corporate success. Often, he can do this without even getting to know you: because, he loves all of us and the future will be brighter. He's here to make it happen. That's just the kind of guy he is.

(If you think that's a pretty good definition of a prick, well, clearly you're not a "team player" and need more indoctrination, er, clinics.)

@ h.harb
To some readers your point might sound like hyperbole, but there's compelling evidence for it. The Vail Resorts, Inc. of today is highly anti-competitive across multiple markets, and intentionally so. Vail calls its control of all snowsports-related commerce the "total experience."

Tellingly, the United States sued Vail back in 1997 for antitrust violations. Essentially, the Justice Department claimed that Vail had grown too damn large, forcing them to divest A-basin. Although the Vail of today is much, much larger and more monopolistic, nothing's being done. It's surprising and saddening.

If there's interest, I can write a post on all of the various markets that Vail has absorbed (resorts, restaurants, real estate, lodging, retail, etc.). Meanwhile, a quick google will give you a glimpse of what this is doing to local businesses and once-unique mountain towns. See, e.g. http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200301/ski.asp
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Sat Oct 05, 2013 10:24 am

It actually makes sense for the US Ski Team to own it's own ski area and lodging in the southern hemisphere, through a Vail affiliation. The Team needs summer training on winter snow , why pay big dollars every year to others when you can run that business and sell it to others when you are not using it. Now especially since the US Ski Team is actually more than 60% really the "Money TEam" which refers to the fact teat from the "B" TEam down athletes have to pay $30,000 to be on the team. Marolt started this while he was making in excess of $600,000, not including bonuses. They are all in it for the money never fool yourself into thinking PSIA has good intensions.

I'll add this here because it wasn't in my previous post.

Bottom line here is no matter how cool you think you are as an Aspen instructor or a Mammoth instructor or a Squaw Valley instructor, you are working for Vail. The ski school director now at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley was previously the Vail Ski School director. See a trend here? I would not be surprised if Vail tried to buy Squaw. They want California. If you are paying dues to PSIA you are actually working for Vail.

PSIA is not about ski instruction, it's just one of the means that Vail is using to leverage it's position in an attempt for total domination of the ski industry. What, anti-trust never heard of it.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Sat Oct 05, 2013 2:32 pm

It makes you want to rethink what's going on with the litigation between Vail and Park City ... they're both sounding pretty sleazy. Then, too, you have to admire Vail for thinking to it's future as a vacation-recreation provider ... what if it doesn't snow?
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby arothafel » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:26 pm

Well done... Snowtravel!

As a teenager, I witnessed how "heavy-handed" ski area operators can become with their "take no prisoners" mentality -- especially if you are a perceived "threat."

Many old-time Eastern Skiers may remember my Dad and his daily radio broadcasts called "Ski Reports by Roxy" from the late 60's and 70's (before grooming became so sophisticated).

He became a thorn in side of Ski Area Operators as they preferred to call ice, "frozen granular" rather than the "boiler plate" it really was.

Led by Killington, the operators organized and boycotted Roxy's main sponsor (Shaeffer Beer) and others from all restaurants, lodges, etc. Very effective.

But all that is small potatoes compared to what you are revealing. There really is a "dark side" to the ski industry. Very cool that you are shedding some light on it. Keep up the good cause!
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby snowtravel » Sat Oct 05, 2013 9:28 pm

@ arothafel

Thanks. Please stay tuned, there's so much more.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:30 am

Vail at it again! http://www.firsttracksonline.com/2013/10/05/beaver-creek-homeowners-sue-vail-resorts/

Many smaller ski areas survive due to summer activities ... but it's hard to see why Vail needs the money at Beaver Creek. Then, too, the Forest Service has just launched a public comment period about proposals to encourage summer use of their ski area land. So it would seem a lot of people are wondering about the long term viability of the industry. Or just finding new ways to squeeze money out of the land.

The downside I've seen to "summer use" is that it imposes more visible infrastructure on the alpine feeling you used to get at many areas.
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Magnificent Deception

Postby snowtravel » Wed Oct 09, 2013 2:19 pm

What's in a Name?
For sheer incongruity, nothing beats the "Magnificent Seven," PSIA's paean to its founders of 1961. Penned by PSIA publicist and blogger Peter Kray—not coincidentally, author of PSIA's self-published, self-congratulatory and widely-ignored "American Snow"—the weird starts with Kray's allusion to the eponymous 1960 classic Western film. There, gunfighters band together to defend Mexican villagers against marauding bandits.

If the simile here isn't crystal clear, come take a ride with me: we're headed in the same direction.

To set the proper mood, listen to Elmer Bernstein's wonderfully evocative theme music from perhaps the quintessential Western movie score: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iteRKvRKFA. (Really, you'll enjoy.) Now, imagine, back in real-life 1961, seven altruistic ski school directors gallop to the rescue of ski teachers, who seek to promote their economic and professional progress versus...wait for it...their employers, i.e., those very same ski school directors.

Gosh, what could possibly go wrong?

Spoiler Alert
Curiously, PSIA has already tried to consign Kray's Magnificent Seven piece to the Internet Memory Hole; it appears nowhere on the site anymore. Fortunately, there's the Wayback Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/20110305104333/http://www.thesnowpros.org/index.php/PSIA-AASI/site-info/the-magnificent-seven-part-1. Of course, there are lots of other places where the PSIA lauds its own "grassroots" founding: http://www.google.com/search?&q=psia+founded+1961. Whatever the reasons, the disappearance of Kray's Magnificent Seven from PSIA's website got me searching for some background. (At one point I spoke with Kray on the phone, and like almost everyone I've met in the PSIA, he's sincere and intelligent.) What I learned surprised me, causing me to see PSIA's founders in an entirely new light.

At the outset, there are major discrepancies in PSIA's autobiographical myth. Starting with the obvious—and it only took me about 24 years to discover this—the present "PSIA" was founded not in 1961 but rather 1989, just a few years after I joined. (Go here http://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do and search on "professional ski instructors of america.") The company isn't even PSIA anymore, having changed its name nine years ago to American Snowsports Education Association, Inc. or "ASEA." (Professional Ski Instructors of America is a "d.b.a." or trade name, as is the American Association of Snowboard Instructors.)

If the company that calls itself PSIA today was founded in 1989 in Colorado instead of 1961 in Minnesota, well, so what? For one thing, it's hard to conjure a legitimate reason. ASEA itself omits any mention of it. The organization could have easily changed its name and even its state of residence (called the corporate "domicile") without the time, trouble and expense of reincorporating. (If you want to relocate your nonprofit to Colorado, you just register there.) For similar reasons, tax issues can't explain; and besides nonprofits are generally tax-exempt. If that isn't enough of a puzzle, the original Minnesota PSIA separately existed until August 6, 2012, implying that someone kept renewing the original PSIA as an independent, viable entity. In effect, until very recently there were two PSIAs.

Will the real PSIA please stand up?

Behind the Name
We'll roll up our sleeves and dig into the documents shortly—after all, you came here for the truth—but first a bit of background.

A "corporation," legally speaking, consists of a business filing with the proper Secretary of State: articles of incorporation and a fee will do it. However, all you've got there is an empty shell. When people speak of a corporation, they really mean the goals, people, assets, and functions that give life to what's otherwise just a legal fiction. Officers and directors need to be named, meetings held, by-laws adopted, operations funded, business transacted, and so on. As a practical matter these define the enterprise.

Though the public too often ignores the matter, nothing is more important to a corporation than its governance. In particular, an institution's by-laws—the rules that dictate its internal functioning—can radically affect its character and operation as an organization. The by-laws (and of course state law) determine who has power and who doesn't. It's no exaggeration to say that a corporation's by-laws comprise its "constitution."

With that in mind, let's take a look at the ASEA née PSIA.

The Legal
The original PSIA and ASEA differ constitutionally in at least three crucial respects. Today's ASEA (1) ultimately controls who may represent the association's members on the governing Board of Directors, (2) contrary to Colorado law, never calls meetings among the association's members, and (3) gives all certification levels an equal vote, regardless of professional training or experience: like giving pre-med students voting rights in the AMA.

First, in the past, regional divisions (Intermountain, West, East, etc.) would each elect a representative to serve on PSIA's Board of Directors. That's still true, but now, divisional representatives take office if, and only if, the current ASEA Board approves them. In other words, since the board can veto objectionable new directorial nominees, leadership is now essentially self-ratifying: the antithesis of grassroots. Oh, and one more thing: incoming directors need "broad, divisional responsibility at a procedural and policy-making level," or they're ineligible. I don't want to overstate the matter, but I strongly suspect that in practice this simply means, "resort management or supervisory experience strongly preferred."

Equally important, the original PSIA's by-laws dictated that annual member meetings—the nonprofit equivalent of shareholder meetings—"shall be held between the months of March and December of each year." On its terms, this rule required the nation's PSIA membership to gather together annually to meet, confer, and vote concerning PSIA business. Contrary to PSIA's prior bylaws and violating Colorado law, the ASEA never holds member meetings, because its by-laws only require them "as the Board of Directors may determine." Hence, ASEA is an "association" that doesn't associate, except on a high (and highly-controlled) level. I can't find anyone who even remembers the last association meeting.

Finally, and most important of all, the by-laws of the original PSIA gave "Full Certs" (now called Level III) double the voting power of "Associates" (Level II) while withholding voting rights entirely from "Apprentices" (Level I). Under the original system, mostly full-time, career teachers who expended the time and money needed to attain the highest certification held the most voting power. They formed the backbone of America's professional ski teacher corps and put the "P" in PSIA.

ASEA now gives equal voting rights to all three certification categories, including members with little professional training or experience. Since the vast majority of ASEA members are part-time and non-career—an inexpensive "contingent" workforce—they're far more willing to bend to a management agenda that merely provides a restricted resort pass, a uniform, and little else. A career that once aspired to professionalism increasingly reverts to a temporary, low-paying ski-bum gig. Meanwhile, PSIA's formerly-professional backbone lies crippled and powerless.

The current scheme radically departs from the founders' vision. Since more experienced teachers possess, in general, dedication to the sport as well as more refined BS sensors, the old by-laws could have opened the door to real professional progress. Instead, ASEA is driven not by experience on the hill but rather resort imperatives—read: profit—dictated by management to mostly neophyte teachers.

As I've asserted before, today the "P" in PSIA stands for part-time, partially-trained, pathetically-underpaid, and just passing-through. Since practically no one can learn a living in it anymore, I'll vote for another name change: the Poor Screwed Instructors of America.

Plot Twist or Twisted Plot?
ASEA makes a mockery of PSIA's aspirations: a different name, a new corporation, a forgotten constitution, and vastly different imperatives. The unexplained 1989 abandonment of PSIA's original corporate existence, along with major changes to the organization's by-laws, transformed an arguably-professional association into today's self-dealing instrument of management. It's a time-tested totalitarian recipe: chill elected representation, omit the ingredients of meaningful association, dilute the original power base, season with myth, and only a whiff of legitimacy remains. ASEA accomplished nothing less than a corporate coup, and practically no one's the wiser.

PSIA's "Magnificent Seven" sounds self-aggrandizing alright. Given the disaster that's befallen PSIA, their like would be a welcome sight.

Best wishes,

Joseph
Last edited by snowtravel on Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:11 pm

This only goes to show how used and manipulated those who believed they are in a legitimate organize, have been brain washed.

First, in the past, regional divisions (Intermountain, West, East, etc.) would each elect a representative to serve on PSIA's Board of Directors. That's still true, but now, divisional representatives take office if, and only if, the current ASEA Board approves them. In other words, since the board can veto objectionable new directorial nominees, leadership is now essentially self-ratifying: the antithesis of grassroots.


Isn't this illegal for a non profit corporation?

Basically this eliminates any membership voting rights or influence.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby snowtravel » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:45 pm

@h.harb

Isn't this illegal for a non profit corporation?


I'm only licensed to practice in California, but it's a great question. Here's the applicable statute:

"Election, appointment, and designation of directors.
"(1) All directors except the initial directors shall be elected, appointed, or designated as provided in
the bylaws. If no method of election, appointment, or designation is stated in the bylaws, the
directors other than the initial directors shall be elected as follows:
"(a) If the nonprofit corporation has voting members, all directors except the initial
directors shall be elected by the voting members at each annual meeting of the
voting members."
Colo. Rev. Stat. 7-128-104.

Based on this, the answer seems to be, "probably not," because ASEA's by-laws provide this method of nomination/confirmation. Colorado apparently wanted to provide maximum flexibility to nonprofits, and this serves that end.

I'd rephrase the issue more broadly: can a Minnesota nonprofit overhaul its governance merely by starting a brand new corporation of the same name in another state?

(It's on my top ten list of PSIA questions.)
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby h.harb » Wed Oct 09, 2013 6:59 pm

This needs to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Oh, I forgot the government is shut down.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby Kiwi » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:47 pm

Non profit organisations are not treated the same as other entities for the purpose of tax because of the belief that the organisation provides a benefit to its members roughly equivalent to the profit made. It is incongruous that this organisation which does not give anything to its members, witness the fact they do not have a say in how it is run or any revenue used, should not pay normal corporate tax or be de-registered. Obviously, it is a profit making organisation but just wrongly incorporated.

Perhaps a complaint to the revenue authorities might help or the members, who have been deprived of the real benefit of membership, should ask the court to order the "directors" to disgorge the misappropriated profits that they have obtained through salaries etc.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby NoCleverName » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:11 am

They are a 501(c)(6) professional association. Interestingly, they do have a small 401K plan for the benefit of about 24 persons. Less than 500K in it now. But I'm sure it's a relief to individual PSIA members that their dues are helping to ensure their executives' retirements. They also have some deal with Subaru for sponsorship. Supposedly members get some benefit from this program. The bigwigs seem to be connected with something called the (confusingly) ASAE ... that seems to be an association of associations.

For those interested in pursuing the facts on their Form 990, see http://non-profit-organizations.findthebest.com/l/1125710/American-Snowsports-Education-Association-Inc

Take from it what you will.

By the way, the "boss" reports he works an average of 60 hours per week ... commendable ... for which he is paid $148K. No other officers are paid.
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Re: The Truth About PSIA

Postby skijim13 » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:45 am

Here is a discussion on Linken from the PSIA about what make good skiing, still belive skidding makes good skiing

Ski Instructor at The Canyons wrote:

We were having a discussion about Jalbert’s works. Sometimes threads do that – stray from the point of its creator or the desired path of an observer. Carving is not the only way to ski although high edge angles are impressive and fun.
Yes, I do skid the top of my turn because I ski terrain that is steep and soft, also terrain dictates the shape of my turn sort of like the discipline of the gates – making us turn when we may not be ready or comfortable. Sort of like tree skiing steep terrain and/or moguls. Sometimes I pivot and slip the entire turn sometimes I carve; I sort of missed your point Bill.

Speed control throughout the arc is great but mixed conditions require some creativity too and whatever it takes to stay in control of your speed and direction. Early edge and pressure work or drifting into the place you want to apply the edge and pressure, what's the point other than being dynamic. Skills and skill breakdown into learnable parts also known as a skill.

I'm not agreeing that carving top to bottom arcs are possible all over the mountain. Take Baldy chutes at Alta and a well skidded turn or a pivot of the skis can be just as impressive. Pivoted turn intimations work dynamically in the bumps and on the steeps putting the ski into the desired deflection.

A little nose butter works too.
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