Fancy becoming an instructor? Part 1
23rd July 2010
It doesn’t have to be winter and you don’t need to go to the mountains. More and more people are starting on indoor slopes in the UK. PlanetSKI followed an instructor course for a week at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. It wasn’t as easy as it first looked.
There were some worried faces among the 30 people assembled for the first meeting on the course.
It is all very well to think of taking a ski instructors course but when you are there, in reality, and gazing round the room the first thing as the introductions are done you think is that everyone will probably be better.
They were a mixed bunch, but surprisingly young. Most were teenagers as the school summer holidays had just started.
There were a few older people, a teacher, an estate agent and a housewife.
“We get all sorts on these courses with some just starting their careers in snowsports and they plan to go all the way and become top level instructors with internationally recognised qualifications,” says the lead trainer, Alex Leaf.
“Others just want to get a qualification to teach on artificial slopes in the UK and some just to do the course to improve their own performance.”
The course is run by The British Association of Snowsports Instructors, BASI, and currently over 200 people take the qualification from May through to October at The Snow centre.“I want to improve my personal skiing and then do a bit of teaching at a dry slope and then hopefully teach outdoors if I pass the next qualification,” says 19-year old Lewis.
“I’m a further education teacher and looking for something else at the moment,” says 44-year old Andy Jeffery. “I am not getting any younger, and wanted to do this since I was 12, so I thought I’d have a go.”
42-year old Lou is also looking for a change of direction in her life.
“I work full-time but initially I just want to teach maybe Sunday mornings and part-time, but my aim is give up work and go to live in the mountains,” she says.
“It’s a good pathway into teaching and at university I can use it as a part-time job to get some money,” says 16-year old Harry Rice.
Many others of the young ones want to teach in their gap year and want to get the qualification beforehand so they can go straight into it.
It is a week-long course and then once you have done 35 hours of shadowing with a ski school and completed a First Aid course and child protection module it gives you the necessary papers to teach on an artificial slope in the UK.
To teach out on the real snow there is another 2-week course that needs to be done in the mountains.
Then, if successful, you have a badge and a qualification to teach skiing.
Sounds easy? Well it’s not.
“The first thing you will probably have to do is change your own skiing and you won’t like it as you may already think you are pretty good,” says Leaf.
“You may need to de-construct certain elements and then put it back together and that will feel strange to begin with. Hopefully by the middle of the week though it will begin to make sense.”
And with that it was out on snow.A couple of warm up runs and then right back to basics; putting the skis on, walking on flat ground, star turns, straight running and snowploughs. Side stepping and side slipping.
Then more snowploughs.
After all if the keen and fresh-faced trainees were successful they would probably spend more time teaching children and beginners than anyone else.
“I never knew I couldn’t do a snowplough, this is quite humiliating!” one trainee said.
See the video below of what some of the students thought of snowploughs.
Later in the week it will be parallel skiing, carving and personal performance, but for the moment it is nailing the snowploughs.
As the first day progressed the trainees did some parallel turns and then it was into the classroom for lectures on dealing with accidents and emergencies.
By the end of the first day not all the faces were as worried as they were first thing – but some were.
For a video interview with the head trainer, Alex Leaf, see below.
To find out how the course developed check back later in the week as the students reach the half way stage.