GO BACK TO BASICS
PSIA Alpine Team Captain Michael Rogan
LEANNE SMITH PLACES
KILEY STAPLES SPEEDS
n May of 2011, three of the best ski racers in
America went back to ski school. At a training
camp at Mammoth Mountain, California,
Stacey Cook, Leanne Smith, and Laurenne
Ross—all members of the U.S. Ski Team’s
World Cup speed team—took in the tutelage
of Michael Rogan, captain of the PSIA Alpine
Team. The premise: Technically better skiers
can be better ski racers, and when it comes to developing
better technical skiers, no one does it better than PSIA.
And it begged at least two basic questions: What can elite
athletes learn from PSIA-AASI instruction? And what can
a PSIA-AASI-certified instructor learn from working with
skiers or riders with such a high skill level?
“We were all a little skeptical at first,” Cook said, recalling
when Chip White, the speed team head coach, told her and
the other athletes about the concept. That skepticism was
particularly acute for Cook, because even as a kid she never
went to ski school. She figured she had a pretty good handle
on how to ski properly at this point in her skiing life—she was
the world’s 19th-ranked downhiller last year—so what was
she going to learn now?
Instructors regularly encounter that attitude in higher-level skiers. I know how to ski. Why do I need ski school?
Racers, however, are different in one important respect from
highly skilled recreational skiers: they operate in a results-focused arena. For them, good skiing is simply defined as
skiing faster. And while 19th in the world is pretty good,