Current involvement with ski school
I work as an instructor for New Generation Meribel and am a coach for the following courses;
- BASI Level 4 ISTD
- Degree in Economics
I work as an instructor for New Generation Meribel and am a coach for the following courses;
Most trainee instructors (myself included in the earlier years) have a slightly delusional concept of what the job actually involves. It is not the constant powder days and ripping around on perfect corduroy that many may lead you to believe. There are a lot of beginner lessons, skiing with little kids and plenty of time spent on the nursery slope, powder day or not. If that sounds like a downer already, then becoming a ski instructor probably isn’t for you. A love of teaching and communicating with others are vital, if not more important, than the obvious passion for skiing and the outdoors. There are days spent ripping down that perfect corduroy or skiing waist deep powder, but there are also days when we are teaching small kids or first timers. This is what makes it so enjoyable for me personally. It’s the variety that keeps it interesting and fresh.
I grew up skiing in the cairngorms and looking back I was keen to become an instructor as early as my first ski holiday to Meribel, when I was 13. I was blown away by the size and the quality of the runs. I didn’t want to leave! I remember skiing with the instructor we had (who I still bump into regularly!) and chatting to him about the various ways that I could do it. In the end I held off until I finished school and ended up doing a New Generation Residential BASI 1 & 2 programme. It was the first time I had been in a ski resort for more than a week and I loved it! It was amazing how quickly you felt yourself progress. The constant training was excellent and by shadowing the instructors during peak weeks I was able to get an insight into what they do, whilst also ticking off my hours required by BASI.
After weeks of constant training in both skiing and teaching the exam was actually more enjoyable than stressful.
Outside of training, a group of us would be constantly out skiing. Not necessarily working on specific things, but just tearing around the mountain pushing each other and our own limits. For me this is where the biggest improvement comes from on these courses. There is only so much the coach can do and it is really up to you to get out in your free time and put into action what he/she has been banging on about. They can’t do it for you.
After my level 2 I was advised to push on and start knocking out the level 3 ISIA modules. However, after a chat with my parents and various others we decided that maybe I should get a degree before fully committing. Error. So off to Uni I went and BASI exams came to a massive standstill, replaced by some thrilling Economics. I did manage to get a few weeks teaching in Italy every year with my level 2 however, which kept the love alive. As soon as Uni was done it was back to skiing and I tried to get through the Level 3 as quickly as I could. I completed my race coach 1 and 2 over the summer in Hintertux and then signed up with New Gen again to their ISIA training programme.
It was a good move to be back in a training programme, as after a 4-year break I didn’t really know what level I was at or how much training was required to pass. I hadn’t even booked any exams, as I wasn’t massively confident I would be up to it. Luckily that wasn’t the case and after a great few weeks training with Euan Wright as our head coach I managed to grovel to BASI and book on the end of season tech and teach through a cancellation. The ISIA programme was great, with lots of ski improvement, different teaching styles and off piste training. Throughout the season, there was also an opportunity to head back to Italy for a month during peak weeks to do some actual teaching. This was great as it allowed you to put into action what you had learnt.
As summer came around I worked in my parents coffee shop for a month before following my brother into the Superyacht world. I continued to work on the boats each summer until I became Level 4. It is a fantastic industry to be in as you get to travel around the world while saving a fair chunk of change, tax-free. With so many modules to get through in your level 3 and 4 it is imperative you have a decent summer job (or some very generous parents!). The cost of becoming a fully certified instructor can be quite high when you factor in peripheral expenditure, such as lift pass, accommodation, equipment, travel etc. I felt like I was endlessly travelling around Europe to exams! On the flip side however, as a ‘full cert’ you are extremely sought after and are able to recoup the costs relatively quickly provided you don’t end up in the pub every day. The following season I upped sticks and moved to Verbier to join the NewGen team there. It was a great set up as it provided me with enough work to make a little money but more importantly, some time to focus on training for my L4.
Perhaps the best thing about Verbier is the environment and vibe that is created there. With so many British instructors teaching and training, it makes for a lot of competition and a real desire to push your self to the next level. I remember going out by myself numerous times and just lapping the same bumps line or piste, trying to push it. Probably my biggest ever crashes (so far!) were in Verbier!
There were some top BASI trainers brought in which allowed each of us going for our L4 to know exactly where we were and how we were progressing. This was invaluable and was some of the best training I’ve ever had. I stayed in Verbier for two seasons working, ticking off the exams and modules. And if I’m honest, everything seemed pretty cruisey.
Then came the Eurotest. The biggest bit of advice I can give any would be instructor is – get in gates early. I had been in gates once or twice at dry slope Uni championships, but that was more about how fast you could sink a pint at the top than get down the course. I was extremely naïve and perhaps slightly arrogant about how much training I required. At the end of the day its only going left and right, right?! I rocked up to my first Eurotest feeling confident but after a couple of minutes of sliding around and crashing through gates head on, I realised I had better get some serious training done. I did some training with Podium and a little with ESF before getting lucky on my third test. It was a big relief! Without a doubt, for me it was the hardest part of my progression through BASI. I just couldn’t understand how to adapt my line and believe I focused far too much on trying to be ‘clean’ rather than fast. It can be a real stumbling block for so many people. There are just so many variables that can affect the outcome. I guess the only way around it is to train and fully commit to it 100% to give your self the best opportunity to pass.
Now I am fully qualified I am loving life in France. I am based out of Meribel and I am involved in the Meribel BASI level 1 & 2 training this season which I cant wait to get started on. For the last few summers I have been making the long trip down under and teach in Australia. It has been great as I now have a much more active role in instructor and race training down there (I think I am finally getting to grips with line!). How long I will do back-to-back seasons I am not too sure though, I think my feet may put an end to it soon! The cool thing about ski instructing is that there is always more to learn. The sport is changing all the time and whether you are improving your personal skiing, teaching, fitness or knowledge of equipment it all has a part to play in how you fulfill your role as a ski instructor.
I always remember gaining my L4 and one trainer commenting, “this is just the start.” And although I was a bit peeved at the time, he has a fair point. There is no real end goal but rather an infinite progression of self-development through both teaching and skiing. And it is this constant development that allows you to improve as an instructor and pass on your skills to others more analytically. Whether you start a journey to become a ski instructor through a passion of skiing or a passion of teaching it doesn’t really matter. They are both intrinsically linked and both, in my opinion, improve as you progress through the system. The road to becoming an instructor is a lot of fun, takes commitment, hard work and is a great achievement, but being fully qualified is not the be all and end all. There are always new heights to scale. Good luck!
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.
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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.