- BASI Level 2
I am a lawyer
Complete my BASI Level 4 and join the New Generation full time team.
Verbier 10 week BASI 1 and 2 2013, Nendaz level 3 work and train programme.
I decided to train to become a ski instructor as I wanted to do something more enjoyable and more rewarding in life. For 10 years I’d been working in a desk-based job in London which paid well but ultimately was not what I wanted to do for the next 35 years.
Initially I looked at careers in the wine trade but quickly realised it was almost impossible to find a job in London that paid enough to cover the rent, and so I started thinking about my other big passion in life: skiing. A cup of tea and a quick blast on Google was all it took to find out about the BASI GAP Course, a 10-week training programme which takes you from amateur skier to Level 2 ski instructor, at which point you are qualified to teach in the mountains in many countries in Europe and further afield.
Lots of ski schools offer ski instructor training towards BASI exams or run a GAP Course. Many of these courses start in January and run through to March, but a few start in December and finish in February before the school half term holidays. I decided that this was the best option for me, as it meant I could start working and earning in the second half of the season. The next question was then where to take the course. To work as a ski instructor in France, you have to be fully qualified (i.e. Level 4) and a similar restriction applies in Italy, and this would have meant leaving the country where I trained to go and find work elsewhere after the course. Switzerland, on the other hand, is a little more relaxed and allows Level 2 instructors to work so I decided to look at GAP Courses in Switzerland starting in December.
The New Generation GAP Course appealed because of the emphasis New Generation places on ski instructor training. The Verbier school was set up specifically to train instructors to Level 4 so that they can go on to work in France. At the time, there was also a work and train programme run in partnership with a school in neighbouring Nendaz which dovetailed perfectly with the GAP Course, allowing you to move straight on to training for Level 3 and to get some important working hours under your belt. (This programme has now been replaced with New Generation’s own Villars ski school). It was clear to me that New Generation was the right place for me to train.
There was a big concern that by taking something I loved as a hobby, which I enjoyed because it was so very different from my desk job, and making it my work might spoil the enjoyment; but I decided it was a risk worth taking. And the day I handed in my resignation and told my boss what I was going to do was one of the best days of my career!
Arriving in Verbier at the start of December was brilliant. There had been loads of snow throughout November and the pistes were empty, so we spent the first two weeks skiing on perfect soft, grippy snow in beautiful sunshine and with the mountain to ourselves. All of us on the course had our bad habits which our coaches, Jon and Tom, quickly set about correcting – as much as you might think you’re a good skier at the start of the 10 weeks, you soon realise that there is lots of room for improvement. But skiing every day is such a buzz and, for me, when off the snow being able to spend a leisurely afternoon in town, rather than sitting behind a desk counting down the minutes until I could leave, felt like bliss.
After 2 weeks of training we were ready for our BASI Level 1 exam which we all passed without much difficulty. Celebrations with the whole New Gen Verbier team ensued – it was great how much support we received from the guys training towards their Level 4 exams – and we felt justifiably pleased with ourselves, but the hard work was just about to start.
If you’re considering qualifying as a ski instructor, the chances are you’re a reasonably competent skier to start with. And we’d all just passed our Level 1 exam, hadn’t we? So what could be so wrong with our technique? Quite a lot, that’s for sure. There were lots of ups and downs over the next few weeks as we worked towards the Level 2 exam. The better you get as a skier, the smaller the changes that need to be made to your skiing; and the smaller the changes to be made, the harder they are to make.
One of the group grew very frustrated with the changes he was asked to make to his short turns; another found it very difficult to carve cleanly through his long turns; my meltdown came one afternoon when we were practising white pass turns and I could not commit to the outside edge of my skis. We’d been warned that the middle weeks are tough, and that we might feel as if we were getting worse before we’d see any improvement. Sure enough, the bad days were outnumbered by better days (come on, you can’t be too upset when you’re skiing every day!) and little by little everything started to fall into place. Our last few days of training before the Level 2 exam were fantastic and we all – trainees and coaches – felt really confident.
We all passed!
I now work for New Generation as part of their Villars ski instructor team.
Becoming a ski instructor may seem a daunting task and the variety of courses available certainly does not make it any easier, but here at New Generation we have over 10 years experience of running ski instructor training courses and during that time we have come across most situations, problems and variables.
We are available 7 days a week and will be able to guide you through all steps of the BASI system, at every level. So contact us today and find out more.
Note: If you contact us regarding a specific course we can also send you a full brochure, so don’t forget to enter your address details.
Here at New Generation we offer a selection of complete ski instructor courses. You can join us on a residential course from 1 week to the whole season training, practicing and taking exams. We offer both BASI accredited training and exams, depending on the level you are trying to achieve.