Misawa seeking ski, snowboard instructors
November 25, 2004
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Calling all experienced skiers and snowboarders: Outdoor Recreation has a deal for you.
Pay just $75 to spend five days at a local ski resort perfecting your technique with professionals.
In return, agree to teach snowboarding or skiing for three Saturdays this winter to youth and adults in Outdoor Recreation’s “learn-to” programs.
“Really, what they’re getting is five days on the slopes,” said Ron Stark, director of Outdoor Recreation and Weasel’s Den, the base’s new indoor recreation center. “The only thing they have to buy is their lunch.”
Every winter Outdoor Recreation sponsors an Amateur Ski Instructor Association Level 1 Certification Course to groom instructors for the Misawa base community.
“We offer learn-to-ski and -snowboard programs from January to March, and we want to be able to have professionally trained instructors,” Stark said.
The Amateur Ski Instructors Association, known as ASIA, is a U.S. professional nonprofit organization formed in 1980 and run by its members, according to the ASIA Web site, www.asiaski.org. The school is a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors. One of ASIA’s goals is to train and certify candidates who are interested in teaching alpine, snowboard and cross-country skiing at the amateur level through ski clubs, schools, colleges, youth groups and other organizations. ASIA certification is nationally recognized and can be used anywhere, Stark said.
At Misawa, the ASIA certification programs first were offered eight years ago, and again each year for the past five winters, Stark said. This year’s Misawa program runs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from Dec. 18 to Dec. 22. Stark said the ASIA instructors teaching the Misawa course are Bill Hornbeck, ASIA founder and chief executive officer; and Rick Svencer, a snowboard instructor at Killington, Vt. Hornbeck is 77, Stark said, “and he skis like you wouldn’t believe.”
The sign-up deadline is Dec. 1.
Each program has 10 student slots; both also are open to other bases in Japan and South Korea. Stark said this year two people from Yokosuka Naval Base and four from Yokota Air Base have signed up and spots still are available. Outsiders, however, must pay the full $375 tuition because they won’t be able to teach for Misawa’s Outdoor Recreation, officials said. For locals, Outdoor Recreation picks up the $300 tuition. Students from Misawa pay Outdoor Recreation only $50 for “logistic expenses” and $25 to ASIA for membership, Stark said. In exchange, they sign a service contract to teach three basic-level ski or snowboard courses over the course of the winter.
The contract obligation is from January to March, Stark said, during which ASIA instructors must teach at least three Saturday learn-to programs. “The teaching is two to three hours,” he said. “The rest of the time you get to go ski and snowboard and have some fun.”
Applicants for the ASIA course must be 18 or older and of an upper-level intermediate or advanced skill level. “You must be able to ski or snowboard any groomed slope up to black diamond,” Stark said.
The ASIA class likely will be taught on the slopes of Okunakayama or Appi, depending on conditions, he said; class members “will be on the mountain between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.” They’ll be trained to teach basic skills, such as snowplow stops on skis and sliding turns on snowboards.
Advanced skiiers and snowboarders find it “hard to teach the really basic things because they haven’t done these for years,” Stark said. Technique improvement is also part of the course: “They want to make sure if you’re teaching that your technique is really good.”
Military members must show proof of approved leave during the course dates, he said. Anyone who withdraws or fails the course must reimburse Outdoor Recreation the $300 tuition fee. (Only one person has failed the course in five years, Stark noted.) The program carries a bonus for servicemembers, he said: Teaching for Outdoor Recreation is considered community volunteering and staffers will document those hours for Enlisted Performance Reports.
Call DSN 226-9378 for more information or to become an ASIA instructor for Outdoor Recreation.
Getting into gear ...
When the first snow flies in northern Japan, winter outdoor sports enthusiasts at Misawa Air Base can hit the slopes in new gear. Outdoor Recreation has purchased more than 40 brand-new snowboards and 40 pairs of youth skis and snowshoes, said Ron Stark, director of Outdoor Recreation and Weasel’s Den, the base’s new indoor recreation center.
“People should be getting a lot better quality equipment this year,” he said.
Outdoor Recreation also rents short skis and cross-country ski equipment. All equipment comes in both youth and adult sizes. People may start to rent equipment on Dec. 17 but Stark recommends that first-timers call ahead for a fitting. Outdoor Recreation keeps the information on file and customers prefitted are given priority, Stark noted.
Outdoor Recreation is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It will be closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. It’s in the Weasel’s Den in Hangar 973.
— Jennifer H. Svan