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Get your slice of black ice...
by Adam Steer

It has become generally accepted that inline skating can be a useful tool for skill development in several winter sports including alpine skiing. Who knows when the first skier discovered the similarities between inline skating down a hill and the sport of skiing. From national ski team camps to young hopefuls out practicing with coke cans, ski racers have been using inlines for years to continue their sport specific training through the warm months without the high cost of traveling to the southern hemisphere for summer training camps. Recreational skiers of all levels are also discovering how much of their skiing skills they can transfer to inline skating. Many are drawn into the expansive world of skating specifically by the lure of skate-to-ski.

It is undeniable that as you experience the feeling of your skates arcing over the smooth asphalt, sliding downhill from edge to edge, or of clearing a slalom gate fixed in a specialized base, you almost forget that it is 25C and that the snow is months or miles away. Skiers all over the world are "givin' it a go" on inlines. Some are on their own, but they and others may wish to seek out the experience of a qualified professional to help them make the transition from skiing to skating; to set up a skate-to-ski camp for the local ski club; to coach on one of the various training camps which make use of inlines or even just to get a few tips to improve for next year's ski season. This need for qualified skate-to-ski professionals may be just the opportunity many seasonal ski coaches and instructors have been waiting for. Who better to help people tame the black summer ice than those who make a living on its white winter cousin.

Luckily, aside from the tried and true teachers, observation and experience, there is a systematic way to gain knowledge and understanding about the transfer of skills from skating to skiing and how to manage the skate-to-ski environment. The International Inline Skating Association's (IISA) Inline Certification Program (ICP) has developed a sport specific Skate-to-Ski program developed by leaders in both the Canadian and American ski industries. The skate-to-ski of the ICP is aimed at forming competent professionals capable of promoting, instructing and coaching all forms of cross-training for skiers, both recreational and racing, through the use of inline skates. The successful candidate will also learn excellent on-site management skills and will be able to create and execute a skate-to-ski program.

The content of this course is based on sound mechanical principles and tries to avoid the specific applications of these principles dictated by the styles of skiing and teaching advocated by various regional or national ski instructor or coaching certification bodies. Discovery discussions will evolve around fundamental concepts such as turn shape, the physical forces of a turn, biomechanical principles, etc. The group will then explore how these concepts can best be approached using inline skating as a teaching or training tool. The goal is for candidates to search for the strengths of inline cross-training, rather than trying to give a ski certification course on skates.

The program will also look at how skate-to-ski is affected by such concepts as closed skill vs. open skill movements, skill progression & sequencing and skill analysis & intervention. Of course, the special safety concerns relating to skate-to-ski will be explored in length.

Finally, through group discussion the candidates and examiners will contemplate the state of our industry. What opportunities exist? What obstacles are there to overcome? What innovations should we be taking advantage of? What is the future of skate-to-ski? This course will be an opportunity to share ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental aspects of making turns, be it on inlines, on skis or even on snowblades or a snowboard.

Many high quality camps offering specialized skate-to-ski services already exist. These organizations offer obvious opportunity for the certified skate-to-ski professional. There is also much room for growth in this industry. The entrepreneurial minded may just find themselves at the helm of their own inline cross training program for alpine skiers. No matter what you do with the information you receive at the ICP Skate-to-Ski course, you will benefit from a refreshing opportunity to be involved in three days of sharing & discovery, learning & teaching and lots of fun.

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Adam Steer, Level IV Canadian Ski Instructor's Alliance and Level III Canadian Ski Coach's Federation, is a National Examiner (course conductor) for the IISA. He also owns and operates the Proactive inline skate school in Quebec City and has coached at various skate-to-ski camps in both Canada and the U.S. Adam spends his winters as a full time alpine ski coach in the Quebec City region.

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