ISIA Training team Meribel Jan 2016So you’ve passed your Level 2 exam and are thinking of taking it further – what is training like for ISIA Level 3? 

If you’ve trained with us before or are new to New Gen, the jump to Level 3 is a big step. Here’s a breakdown of what we get up to training for Level 3 Training in Meribel and Courchevel.

The very first thing you do at training is warm-up – dynamic stretching off-skis followed by 30-45 minutes of on-skis drills; jumping mid-turn, skiing on one ski or what we’ve affectionately nick-named “the crab” – bending over and throwing your leg out so when it hits the snow it “catches” and starts a turn. It looks as weird as it sounds!

Once nice and warm, our trainer Tom Speakman outlines the aims of the day; it might be longs, shorts, bumps, variables or steeps. There’s always something to tweak – Tom picks a part that he thinks everyone will benefit from and has us break everything down to build it back up, with the hope that one day we’ll all look like this.

We’ve also had Mountain Safety training with Sam Taylor – we spent the day scrabbling around in the snow finding transceivers, digging snow pits and skiing off-piste in the beautiful Les Avals. Lots of the students from Courchevel and Meribel took their ISIA Mountain Safety exam the next week and smashed it thanks to the training.

ISIA Training off-piste Meribel 2016

There was a bit of a shock to the system in Week 5, Race Week! We spent the week on the Courchevel Stade tweaking our Giant Slalom turns to get us on the path to the almighty Eurotest. Some took to the course like they’d been racing forever, and others (like myself) were a bit wobbly. I think it will take a lot more practice for me (I am a big scaredy-cat).

After the Race week came half-term and a “break” from training – in reality, most students fly off to Italy to teach for the two weeks and get some teaching experience whilst getting some valuable teaching hours (of which you need 200 for Level 3).

Another cool aspect was our week of training from Davide La Porta, who is an Italian Maestro di Sci – this was really interesting as the Italian system focuses on different aspects of skiing to the British. I noticed that Tom focuses a lot on what’s happening from the feet up, whereas Davide looked a lot at upper-body posture and being very precise. I realised that I’d never really thought about why we pole-plant, and have been doing it just because I knew I should…

I mustn’t forget our off-hill training – we receive weekly French lessons from the amazing Katie Probert (Learn French, Make Friends) who has been teaching us useful French (c’est la fin des haricots!!). It’s much more fun to learn when it makes sense, and helps you in everyday conversation, unlike school where you learn how to tell people “I have a cat, his name is Steve”. Knowing how to direct pisteurs to an accident and explain the injury in French will be invaluable for the future.

We take our French lessons with the BASI 1/2 students, which means we get to know everyone throughout all levels of training. This is a huge advantage as friendships are formed and we often go skiing with the younger students too.

Another off-hill module is yoga – our teacher Sarah Sims has been very patient with us. The first session involved a lot of giggling and surprised groans as we awoke muscles we hadn’t used or stretched in a very long time! After weeks of hard training the relaxation and stretching is very very welcome!

ISIA Training Off-Piste Meribel 2016

There are still two weeks of training to go, and the intensity is ramping up! The teaching and technical exams are just over the horizon and so we’re knuckling down and skiing hard. Three days of bumps in the fog definitely does a lot for your quads…

ISIA Training is tough – if you want to improve you’ve got to take training seriously and give it your all. There are peaks and troughs – you’ll have weeks where you feel like every turn is different, and weeks where you think you’re skiing like a hero! It’s not an easy journey but when you’re 9 weeks into the course you look back and realise just how far you’ve come with some awesome people. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

Sarah