There is often a fantastical difference between our perceptions of a job and it’s day to day reality. Ski instructing is no different – but whether you picture all day private lessons with lengthy lunches or a long chain of pupils in a ski school snake you may be surprised at what it actually means to be a ski instructor.
There was certainly a time when going to “ski school” meant being sorted into large groups. Often, this was in a terrifying and oft humiliating ‘ski off’ and then following your instructor in a winding snake for a full week of lessons. It is also true that there are those that hire an instructor to be at their beck and call following them around for their whole ski holiday. However, times have changed and now the life of a ski instructor can be varied and exciting. Check out some of the lessons types that keep our team busy each season.
Group Ski School
The old classic has seen a revival and now usually sees the instructor working with a small group of 8 or fewer people. Clients pre-book according to their level, and ski with an instructor for a couple of hours a day.
Because of the repetition of week long lessons, these groups give you a real chance to develop people and see dramatic changes to their skiing. The small groups are also often really sociable and so give plenty of opportunities for chairlift chat.
This little gem can cover everything from a short and sweet technique session with one person, to a full day with a family on the hill. The variety of private lessons in themselves keeps them interesting. You adapt to the needs of your client to give them whatever they want from the sessions and help them achieve their goals. This can be guiding them from restaurant to restaurant or perfecting an elusive 360′ – the possibilities are endless.
Clinics and Skills Sessions
Modern ski school experiences have now expanded to include group ski lessons for more advanced skiers. These technique-focused lessons often focus on a particular skill such as carving, off-piste, steeps or freestyle and give you the chance to do specific work with advanced skiers.
No longer are lessons just for beginners, more and more advanced skiers are wanting the chance to push and develop themselves further and this can be a great challenge for instructors.
Off – Piste and Guided Days
More people are looking for lessons not just to develop their technique but give them the adventure of a lifetime. On-piste guided days are often a hit as well as serious off-piste adventures. These see instructors getting kitted up and taking clients out for a day in the backcountry, part of the day always includes training on how to use avalanche safety kit and then it is out to hunt the best pow on offer. With strong skiers in the group, days like these don’t tend to feel like work.
Kids Kids Kids
In the school holidays ski resorts fill with families – with children from as young as 4 taking to the slopes. It is now widely accepted that children learn more, better and faster if they are having fun. So kids ski school gives instructors the chance to get really creative and adventurous – whether this is by taking little ones through ‘Alien Forest’ and the ‘Valley of Doom’ or by arranging races and doing freestyle with older children. These lessons are often the highlight of an instructor’s season – maybe it’s true and we are all just big kids at heart!
Working with other people in the industry is a big part of an instructors like in the winter. And one of the main ways you do this is through teaching seasonnaires everything you know – well almost everything(!). As seasonnaires tend to be strong skiers looking for an adventure, these will often be off-piste lessons, freestyle sessions in the park or seriously techy clinics. But it is great to work with other people from resort and build a sense of community – and the chalet hosts often thank you with cake!
If you love developing advanced athletes then there are plenty of opportunities to work with people taking their skiing to the next level. Many of our trainers and mentors started out as instructors and then developed their careers to become coaches on our instructor training courses. A few diamonds even started as gap students themselves and are now working for BASI as trainers and examiners. The sky’s the limit people.