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What to expect on a Ski Instructor Course – The First 3 Weeks

We’re now three weeks into our Courchevel and Meribel BASI 1/2 ski instructor course, and just one week away from the BASI Level 1 exam. So what happens in those first few weeks, and how do trainees prepare for their first-ever instructor exam?

What to expect on a Ski Instructor Course – The First 3 Weeks

Welcome Weekend

The day after arriving, the students get together and we introduce them to their ski instructor course mentors.

This year we had trainees testing out their very own Ortovox Avalanche Safety Kits which we now provide as part of the course, and handed out our course jackets – the incredible Yeti Hunter 3 Layer Jacket by Planks. Our lovely hosts provided some amazing afternoon tea treats, and the mentors ran through the training program.

Meribel Students First Day on the BASI 1/2 Residential Course 2017


With more training hours than ever before, our mentors have the luxury of being able to spend time free-skiing as well as training towards the exams. On the very first day, trainees were taken for a spin around the 3 Valleys to find their ski legs and get some mileage under their belts.

It was back to business on day two – the mentors spent the next few days checking out the trainees skiing and working out their main areas for development. Meribel mentor Lewis Maclellan was focusing on rotational separation with “window-frame” drills, whilst over in Courchevel Sam got the trainees focusing on their fore-aft balance with dolphin turns.

Of course, as soon as the snow started falling in earnest, they took the trainees off-piste and through the trees at every possible opportunity too!

Digging a snow pit

Digging snow pits with Sam Taylor in Meribel to find out what kind of snow layers 2017 has in store

Mountain Safety

Safety on the mountain is our number 1 priority. So in the first week, every trainee spent time learning how to use their avalanche kits, and how to keep safe in the back-country. It was a chilly week (-20 at the top!) but everyone kept warm digging snow pits or learning how to turn in powder. All those pre-course fitness sessions in the gym come in handy when you’re working hard to cut through the 1m of snow that had fallen the night before!

First Aid Course

As part of the BASI Level 1 exam, students need to complete a two-day first aid course with an outside element. So after a day of theory and CPR practice, our students hit the slopes to practice helping injured people on the slopes! Now students can help anyone injured on or off-piste, and get them the help they need.

First Aid scenarios in the off-piste

Trainees learning to assist an injured person in an on-snow First Aid scenario

French Lessons

As an international ski school, we think it’s really important to integrate with the communities. No ski instructor course would be complete without learning the local lingo!

Katie Probert has been training our BASI 1/2 and Level 3 ISIA students in the 3 Valleys for a few years and we love her! She focuses on teaching the students day-to-day, practical French words and phrases. We find this works better than “school” French as it’s more digestible for the students. (Especially after a long day on the slopes.) This includes teaching all the parts of the body, and potential injuries. Combined with their First Aid training, this means that once the students begin teaching, they have the ability to not only stabilize an injured person but to call for help in the language of the country they’re in.

Off-snow Training

Not all training for the exams is on-snow! There is a lot of lingoes to learn in order to deliver lessons at the standard required for the exam. So mentors spend time every week developing a student’s understanding of everything BASI.

Gareth has developed his very own “FUN-damentals Game” complete with tinfoil trophy (and bragging rights) as the prizes. Trainees have been learning how to tell their rotation from their edging. And how to tailor lessons to different levels of learner.

Fundamental Elements Game

Courchevel students taking on the FUN-damental Elements Game


No ski instructor course would be complete without trainees spending time bonding over après! After training up to 6 hours a day, many trainees let their hair down and relax. There are many venues in Courchevel and Meribel. The sun truly came out in the second week which could only mean one thing in Meribel – a visit to the Ronnie!

This year we’ve also employed our very own chalet hosts. Meaning trainees haven’t had to worry about cooking a meal after training. Gary and Rachel have been creating tasty breakfasts, packed lunches, afternoon tea and a hearty two-course meal every evening. Also, après is much more fun when you know there’s dinner waiting at home!

Meribel BASI 1/2 Trainees at the Ronnie

The BASI Level 1 exam starts tomorrow – the students will be continuously assessed on their teaching and technique. With all the training above combined, our students are now more prepared than ever before! Keep your eyes peeled for updates on how they get on over the next few weeks.

Fancy being in their shoes this time next year? Find out more about our Ski Instructor Courses here.

Photos courtesy of Flynn Hunter