Tuesday, 14 August 2007

How To Be A Ski Instructor. Part 2 - Individual Courses

Continuing the series on how to be a ski instructor, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of taking the courses by themselves, rather than as part of a longer gap programme. This is the route I took to being a ski instructor, via the BASI (British) system.

The advantages are cost, and the chance to dip your toes in the water to find out if instructing is for you. You can also combine the courses with working a season in another role. The downside is that it can often take longer, you might not make as many contacts for when you are looking for a job, and you might find it harder to get the needed work experience.

All of the English speaking instructor qualifications follow a similar pattern (at least in the first stages). You take a first level instructor course which is basically a week long introduction, after which (if you pass) you can teach beginners in a controlled environment in the country whose course you have taken. After some work experience you can take the second instructor course which is one to two weeks long. This requires a very competent level of skiing. Some of the criteria include: skiing all pisted runs in control at an appropriate speed, high speed carving on reds (both skis carving cleanly), short radius turns on steeps, controlled turns in bumps, short and long radius off piste in variable conditions, near perfect demonstrations from plough to skidded parallels. All of the above are to be performed with recognised techniques. Your teaching ability will also be assessed, although it is much more common to fail on ski technique than teaching. If you pass the second instructor course you are able to teach in many ski areas around the world.

BASI courses are run in many locations throughout Europe. Canadian courses are obviously run in Canada and also, less obviously, in Andorra. New Zealand and US qualifications are run in their respective countries. Courses are often run in late November, before the season starts, and in April/May after it finishes. These courses may well be an option for those who have other plans during the season proper. There are also courses at this level run in the summer on glaciers, so there are plenty of options.

So to start with, get in touch with BASI, the CSIA, NZSIA etc. and ask for a copy of the course directory (a lot of information may be in the website, but the directory will be more comprehensive and also have useful adverts). Book that first course and get started - you will be likely to improve your skiing, have a good time and most importantly discover whether or not instructing is for you. Personally, taking the BASI Trainee Instructor course (as it was then) was the best thing I ever did.

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