How did it all start?
If someone told me 10 years ago that I would be ski teaching full time I would never have believed them. It was never my intention to become a ski instructor. My parents are both very keen skiers and I started skiing at a young age recreationally. I loved all sport and always wanted to compete in everything from a young age. There was something about skiing… bumps, piste, powder, jumps – it didn’t matter what I was doing as long as I was on skis I was happy. I started ski racing around the age of 10 and it would be fair to say that I became obsessed with the sport. My parents were incredible and supported my ski racing through school and my selection onto the Scottish Ski Team.
How did you go from ski racing to teaching?
At the age of 16 I finished my Highers and left school (deferred University entry) to join the GBR Development Team. I aimed high and set goals to achieve certain FIS points, Senior British Team criteria, Europa Cup starts, World Cup starts and of course had an Olympic dream. I was based in Austria for 3 years and was always focused to become the best skier I could be. After an injury in 2004, the inevitable ups and downs of ski racing including politics and financial constraints I decided to leave the team. I attended my first BASI course. I was instantly sold. I saw a future for me within the sport I always loved… ski instructor.
Were you really able to just leave racing?
However I was not quite finished with ski racing. I completed coaching qualifications and took up several positions with various race clubs. At the age of 19 I found myself coaching the GBR Children’s Team. I remember sitting on a chairlift in Bulgaria with other National team coaches and they were asking my opinion on race rules and setting. I seemed to have made a quick transition from athlete to coach! University beckoned and I was so motivated to study Sport and Exercise Science. I balanced my coaching duties, further BASI qualifications, ski instructing on the dry slope and training in the gym with study. I was determined to learn and develop as a coach and as an athlete. I continued to train and race in Treble Cone, New Zealand through the summer months. I had set my sights on competing in the World Universiade 2009, representing Great Britain. I finished 12th in the Overall Combined. This was my last official race.
What was the next step?
I continued to travel to Wanaka, New Zealand every summer. I could not spend too much time off snow! It was at Treble Cone where I really learned my craft. Teaching alpine and loads of telemark, instructor training, supervising, managing programmes and more skiing in an endless winter…
It was in New Zealand that I realized I loved teaching skiing. I had certainly completed plenty of hours teaching on the dry slope in Edinburgh but teaching on the snow was so much more fun! I got just as much, if not more, out of teaching as I did from ski racing. I was lucky… I had accidently fallen into a dream job. I was determined to develop my teaching skills. I completed my Level 4 Alpine ISTD in May 2008. Around this time I wanted to further my race coaching qualifications so headed to Canada for further courses (CSCF). I was then selected as a BASI Coaching Trainer and asked to consider Eurotest opening. I attended my first Eurotest Calibration in December 2008 and I have been a pace setter for the Eurotest ever since. As openers, we are never trying to ‘race the candidates’ we are just trying to ski as consistently as possible. I feel fortunate to be able to ski Giant Slalom regularly– I love it so much. It also helps motivate me in the gym to keep me in shape!
In my final years of university I completed my Telemark Level 3 ISIA and worked in La Plagne part-time before ‘testing the water’ or indeed ‘testing the powder’ in Val d’Isere where I would end up working full-time after completing my degree. I believed I had the experience and knowledge to deliver BASI courses so put myself forward for selection. I was selected as a BASI Alpine Trainer in 2011.
What are you looking forward too?
I am about to start my sixth full-time season with New Generation Val d’Isere. My newest challenge has been taking on the role of Resort Manager for the ski school – I am enjoying the role immensely. I also have a new focus… I was selected as a member of the BASI Interski demonstration team. Although it is different to my ski racing days I would say that training for the event has already given me purpose. The thought of representing Great Britain at the international conference gives me a sense of excitement and anticipation. I have achieved a fair amount but I still have goals. I have been lucky and made some good choices and decisions. Skiing is my life. I have always been very driven and focused. Whenever I set my mind to something I will be determined to do my best and strive for development.
I believe aspiring ski instructors need focus and determination to reach the highest BASI qualification. You have good training days and you have bad training days but if you have the commitment and passion you will get there. If I am to offer any advice for future instructors… the system is thorough and there is no set way for someone to train or develop or to gain experience. You have to find the right way for you. You have to really enjoy teaching and being in the mountains. Always look for fresh ideas and inspiration from others within the sport.
Get more information
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 more than a decade’s 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.
Choose Your Ski Instructor Course
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.