Swiss Patente Exam Preperation

There are many advantages to becoming a patente. It takes you a step closer to being able to teach off-piste in Switzerland. In the Valais area it is a legal requirement for all ski schools to have 1 patente for every 5 instructors employed so you will be in high demand, and it gives you a great insight into teaching in other systems and expanding your knowledge beyond BASI.

In the past as a BASI member you had to do a language exam and a second discipline. As of November 2014 however Swiss Snowsports have officially recognised BASI’s ISIA requirements for the language and also recognised our second discipline. So that just leaves the skiing exam to do.

You need to be full cert in a your own system.  Swiss Snowsports recognises some systems differently and that may have an affect on what extra courses you need to do in their system. If you are BASI then upon completion of the conversion then you have to do a 1-day attendance law course.

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The Course in Detail

Five years ago Tom Waddington completed the Swiss Patente conversion course and since then has been advising and training other instructors who wish to sit their Patente conversion exam. Of Tom’s past training groups all have gone on to pass. During the exam preparation you will cover all the areas included in the exam which are detailed below. Your time will be split between working on your technical skiing as well as the tactical approach that is required to highlight your skills during this process.

The Exam

The ski conversion exam consists of 4 tests of skiing. This exam now runs over 2 days and is examined by Swiss experts or trainers who are normally part of the Demo team.

You are usually split in groups of the same language (of which English is one) and put with a Swiss examiner. They spend the morning explaining the Swiss system, methods of teaching and have you trying out the different short turn variations e.g. Swedish turns which is great fun!

When lunch is finished its straight into assessment time. You will have one practice run of each strand required so you better hope you have your ski legs on!

1st Test - Off-piste run or Moguls.

Depending on the conditions you will be examined on an off-piste/variables run or a moguls run. For the previous 2 exams it has been the off-piste element. In this you are required to perform 3 different types of turn radius within an agreed area. The examiners normally stand half way down for all tests holding clip boards and looking scary.

If it is moguls you are tested on then you may be asked to do different turns i.e shorts in bumps and a smooth run will be scored highly. In my opinion this is where BASI full cert’s stand out against other systems doing the exam.

2nd Test - Corridor

I think this is one of the best tests of overall skiing ability that we have seen and often use it when training instructors. The idea is to ski between set markers that vary in width. You have to be as close to the markers without going over them and the more you can do it with accurate posture and ski performance the better. They will also take into account how you blend your turns between long short and mediums. It tests everything you have as a skier. Apparently Sean Langmuir scored full marks in this section…..

3rd Test – Short turns

The Swiss like them short and punchy but not too mincy (if that makes sense). In more technical terms quick ski deflection with a fast rhythm. Don’t be fooled by the Swiss arm swing…it looks a bit all over the place however if you look carefully it doesn’t affect the main torso.

4th Test – Free Run

In this run you are required to do 4 different types of turn shape including 4 switch turns that are parallel. You get higher marks for the way in which you make the transitions into different turns and your skill level. Tactics play a huge roll here and reading the slope in terms of where you will do your turns is very important.

Tips – don’t fall over!  You will be scored poorly if you do so it’s a real test of how far you can push it within your ability without loosing control.

Examiners will normally set the criteria within the tasks which can often change between exams so remember to be adaptable and ready to change your skiing.