Learning to Love XC Level III Posted on Jun 2nd, 2018

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Getting my Level 3 was something I had long aspired to - going all the way back to 2005, when I got my Level 2 on a joint 2/3 course up in Ottawa. Seeing the difference between the levels made me realize I had work to do if I wanted to get it.

I didn't know it would be 13 years before I made it happen. Pick an excuse, I probably had it - skiing not good enough, not sure if I my teaching was good enough, too busy travelling, bad snow year, no course in my region, hangnail, bad hair day, etc., etc. 

After doing a Level 3 prep course for about the 1,312th time, and hearing that 3 course was going to happen in southern Ontario, I finally said to myself, "Just shut up and do it."

So, over two weekends in January and February of this past winter, a group of us took the challenge at Horseshoe Resort under the eye of course conductor J-P Lavoie, who is also the Ontario XC technical director.

Now, if you put a diverse group of instructors together for five days, you're bound to get some very interesting teaching drills. We did everything from reenacting the chariot race from the movie "Ben Hur", to pretending to box with heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali, to working on our skate technique to AC/DC's "Thunderstruck". (Don't ask, you just should have been there.)

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So what comes from taking a Level 3 course? I think I can sum it up in 3 things: more dynamic skiing; improved teaching; and better technical analysis.

For my skiing, I don't think it has ever had so much joint flexion and extension. The course also opened up the chance to learn and practice utilizing new styles of teaching. And I think it helped me develop a better eye for things my students need to practice.

So, if you're thinking about getting your Level 3 (or moving up any level) get working on it now.  

John McHutchion is a CANSI Level III X-country instructor with High Park Ski Club of Toronto, Ont.

Photos by Michael Connor, CANSI Level II instructor with High Park Ski Club