Am I Ready For A Ski Instructor Course?

How many weeks skiing should I have done? Does skiing indoors count? How can I tell if my skiing is good enough to pass the exams?

No matter how long you’ve been skiing for, you’re probably wondering the same thing – is my skiing good enough take on a ski instructor course?

A very basic way to describe the level would be as follows;

“You should be able to confidently ski parallel on green, blue, red and some black slopes, but might find it more tricky on black slopes or in difficult conditions”.

We know from experience that most people need more assurance and explanation than that! So to help put your mind at ease, we’ve put together a breakdown below. This should help you decide if you’re ready, need a bit more help or are maybe even somewhere in between.


Number of Weeks Skied

When we talk to potential trainees, we start with the number of weeks you’ve been skiing. A good rule of thumb is more than 10 weeks on snow. So if you’re 18 now and have skied once a week since you were 4 or 5, you’ve got the right number of weeks under your belt.

These weeks become even more useful if you’ve been in ski school during those weeks. This time becomes even more valuable if you’ve tried new experiences like race training or off-piste skiing.


Where You’ve Skied

As you might know, there is a big difference between skiing on a dry slope, indoors on fake snow or outdoors in a ski resort. All time on skis is valuable, but skiing on real snow is a big advantage. This is because you’ve naturally had to develop more awareness of your surroundings and terrain in order to ski safely and well. That said, please don’t rule yourself out if you’ve only skied indoors. We’ve actually had a few students successfully come through our courses despite having only skied before in Manchester!

Another factor is the resorts you’ve skied in. Places like St Anton and Verbier are much steeper resorts than others, so the relative difficulty of the slopes are higher. So a red run in St Anton would probably be more difficult than a red run in Alp D’Huez for example. If you find those runs easy in a steep resort, that’s a good sign.

St Anton Arlberg Piste Map

How Sporty / Fit You Are

This makes a surprisingly big difference in how you’ll manage a ski instructor course. If you’ve been in a sports team or been coached in any sporting discipline, you will understand how coaching works and adapt to it quickly. You’ll also have an idea of the motivation, discipline and fitness required to acheive a sporting goal.

Having a good level of base fitness is key to progressing quickly too. Someone who regularly works out will be able to put up with the long hours on snow better than someone who doesn’t.


Your Technique

For the Level 1 exam, BASI recommend that you can do the following three things, which we’ll break down.

1. Be able to ski parallel confidently, coping with a variety of conditions

This means you should be able to make turns without your skis snowploughing at any point of the turn. Reverting to skiing snowplough when you encounter tricky terrain on a blue run is a sign you’re not quite confident in your parallel skiing yet. If you always ski parallel (or can even carve the turn) then you’re on the right track.

2. Be able to ski parallel on red runs, making rhythmical short turns at a steady pace

This refers to your average red ski run in Europe. You should be able to ski parallel as mentioned above on red pistes, and are able to control the speed and size of those turns. If you’re not quite there yet then don’t worry too much. On a regular ski instructor course you have a few weeks to work on that before the BASI 1 exam.

3. Be able to ski parallel long turns on a green or easy blue slope with the skis carving the last two thirds of the turn

Carving is the next step after skiing parallel. This means your skis are on their edges when turning. At Level 1 we expect to see this from the middle of the turn (when the skis point downhill). Again you don’t need to be Lyndsey Vonn – you have a few weeks to acheive this before examination. So if you have started doing it every now and then, that is probably enough to work with.

Please note that for the Stubai 8 week pre-season course you should already be at the above criteria as it is a fast track version of the regular ski instructor courses.


Help, I Have No Idea What You’re On About!

If you’re a big bamboozled by all of the above, don’t worry! We have dedicated Open Days in the UK to help you work it out. You can ski with a trainer, who will let you know whether you’re ready to take a ski instructor course. Or if you’re thinking of doing a course next winter and will be on a ski holiday this winter, we can ski with you in one of our resorts. Just get in touch and let us know.

Still Not Sure?

Get in touch and we’ll talk you through it – and I promise we’ll be honest. We won’t encourage anyone to book a course who we feel isn’t ready. For example, if you join us at an Open Day after booking a space, and find you’re not quite ready, we’ll refund your deposit.

Fill in the contact form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!