Designing our new ski instructor courses is one of the best parts of the year. It is our opportunity to go back to the drawing board and work out if what we are doing is still the best thing for our students.
So what has changed for our 16/17 BASI 1 & 2 Ski instructor courses?
The short answer is a lot so we are going to focus on our 5 favourite changes.
Change 1 – 11 weeks not 10.
Since the dawn of time our courses have been 10 weeks long, 10 weeks works well, we get great pass rates but it does make everything quite rushed. For 16/17 we are going to increase the length of our courses to 11 weeks. It may seem like a small change but it means you will have way more fun. Changing to 11 weeks means we can put the BASI level 1 exam in week 4 of the course, moving this exam back a week means that we have more time to train you to be better skiers not just pass the exam. As it currently stands as soon as students arrive we have to start focusing on snow ploughs, teaching terms, and practise sessions. With the longer course we can spend a whole extra week just getting better at skiing and having fun pushing ourselves.
Change 2- We have doubled the number of training hours on the programme
Last summer we made the decision to start using training groups of 8 instead of the groups of 10 used by most other providers. It has worked really well, our pass rates for BASI 2 in Verbier were 100% nearly double that of other providers. We thought we could do more though so went back to the drawing board.
For 16/17 students will spend half of their training time in groups of 10, this may seem like a step back but BASI exams run in groups of 10 and for the lower performance parts and teaching demos and practise sessions it makes sense for students to get used to being in that environment.
For the other half of their training time we are going to be using even smaller groups than before and training students in groups of 5. This means for their performance coaching that they will benefit from really individual feedback.
Smaller groups and more training hours also gives us more opportunities to do cool and different stuff with our students, from off piste skiing & ski touring to freestyle and even telemark. Not being limited by group size or time opens loads of new doors.
The increase in hours means trainees will spend at least 30 hours each week with a trainer.
Change 3 – An ortovox Transceiver, Shovel and probe for each student to keep.
Off piste and backcountry skiing is the fastest growing part of the snowsports industry. As the number of people venturing away from the marked runs increases so does the number of accidents.
Most off piste incidents are caused by the person skiing or someone in their party. However with the right education and equipment these accidents can be avoided.
We love off piste skiing and mountain safety is a really important part of the BASI system and living in this environment. As such we want to make sure all our students have the knowledge and equipment to ski off piste with our guides or on their own safely.
Not only will providing them this education and equipment help them in their BASI careers, it could save their life or someone else’s’.
Change 4 – Tablets are no more.
For our 15/16 courses we moved all our course resources on to an online learning platform at the same time we decided provided every student with an android tablet, theirs to keep. After working with these systems for a year we have decided that while we are going to keep the online learning platform we are going to lose the tablets.
Every student bought their own tablet or computer which they prefer using for the off snow work. The tablets were just not needed and as such we have made the decision to cull them and use that money on other aspects of the course.
Change 5 – It is cheaper
Ok so it is only £100 cheaper, but with so much more included in the course we are pretty proud of that.
How have we done it? What is missing?
Well the answer is nothing, everything included in our previous courses is still included. We have managed to add all of this and reduce the price by working in a more collaborative way with our suppliers. From chalet owners to the Northface we have been really honest about the challenges we face as a business and they have done the same. By understanding each others challenges we have been able to work together to overcome them in the most effective way.
It is all pretty exciting really.