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The Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) has been training professional ski instructors since 1938. That’s 85 years of nice turns, and for much of that time it’s been mostly the only game in town. No longer.

In August, Perry Schmunk, former managing director of the Alliance, launched the Professional Ski Instructors of Canada (PSIC), an organization that could change the landscape of Canadian ski instruction. Schmunk, who left the CSIA amid a whirl of internal conflict last season, is joined by two other recently departed CSIA staffers: Jeff Marks and Mark Sedgwick, plus newcomer Ed Cambridge.

According to Schmunk, PSIC’s mandate is to meet the needs of the industry by focusing on the needs of ski pros. Namely: Improving skiing and teaching methodology, and providing tools to enhance the guest experience. He also confirms PSIC will offer a four-level certification ladder.

Sound familiar? The CSIA has a four-level system too. And, according to its website, its mission statement is to deliver “a safe and positive guest experience” and “a progressive approach” to skiing and teaching. 

While there are bound to be similarities, one point of difference is in the structure. The CSIA is a not-for-profit, governed by an elected board. PSIC is an incorporated business. Schmunk calls PSIC “a positive disruptor and a game-changer.” Says Schmunk, “We respect the CSIA but feel there are gaps that we can fill. Resorts are struggling to meet the public’s demand for lessons, our intention is to train instructors to be job-ready.”

On the subject, CSIA is remaining mostly mum. Its official stance according to board member Gunars Kazaks: “The CSIA product is in no way weakened by a new player. It stands behind its 85-year history, and it looks forward to continuing to train ski instructors from coast to coast.”

Adding to the confusion, there are now three certification bodies for Canadian ski pros—and the resorts who hire them—to choose from. Quebec’s ski areas’ association continues to run a longtime instructor training arm called PESG, solely for Quebec-affiliated ski areas.

In the wake of the CSIA vs. PSIC shakeup, one thing is certain: PSIC success is reliant on ski area buy-in and course enrollment. Schmunk confirms PSIC has a number of industry partners, but declined to name which areas have signed on. Essentially, the market will decide if there’s room for three certification bodies in Canada, or who wins this current game of thrones.

Ron Betts
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