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Wednesday November 28, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Beginner, intermediate or advanced. Whatever your level you can improve this winter. But what's the right way to do it?

Getting some coaching is the obvious answer.

But with so many options, how do you choose where to go for it?

Different instructors and different ski schools have their own styles.

Some focus heavily on the technical side of the sport, others on getting you confident to ski the whole mountain.

Then there are holidays that have coaching thrown in and websites that allow you to choose and book your own personal instructor, according to your needs.

The list is endless and there is almost certainly something to suit you, whether you're a skier or snowboarder.

We've put together a guide to help you choose.


The Warren Smith Ski Academy (WSSA) is run, not surprisingly, by Warren Smith.

Warren SmithWarren Smith

The British ski instructor, who has coached members of the Royal Family, is probably best known as the head ski coach on Channel 4's The Jump.

Based in Verbier in Switzerland, the Academy also runs courses in Cervinia in Italy (linked to Zermatt), Niseko in Japan and at UK indoor snow domes.

Warren Smith Ski AcademyWarren Smith Ski Academy course

There are specific courses for moguls, steeps, freeride, freestyle and race training.

The Academy coaches everyone from basic intermediates right up to instructors and World Cup professional athletes.

It also provides private coaching and you can book Smith himself, though you'll have to book well in advance.

The focus is on getting the right technique with a close look at the skier's biomechanics and physiology.

Every year Warren Smith runs a series of technique labs across the UK ahead of the season.

Warren SmithWarren Smith at a ski technique lab

He works closely with fitness and health professionals, including an orthopaedic surgeon, physiotherapist and chiropractor.

"This combination of ski technique, ski biomechanics and ski physiology is rapidly becoming known as the new wave in ski coaching and is the only way to ensure 100% results," Smith says.

"This unlocks all your classic ski problems and opens the door to performance and efficient skiing.

"This is the only true way to progress from the ski technique plateaus and get success on moguls, steeps and powder."


Snoworks does not call itself a ski school. Instead the British-run company offers a variety of ski courses.

Director Phil Smith and his 4x Olympic ski racing wife, Emma Carrick-Anderson have their base in France but operate all over Europe and beyond.

Emma Carrick AndersonEmma Carrick-Anderson - photo Snoworks













The courses accept all levels or skier from intermediates who are comfortable on red runs to experts.

Phil Smith says their courses offer ‘coaching' rather than ‘instruction' which he says often involves short-term tips.

The Snoworks philosophy is about taking the skier on a journey.

"At Snoworks we aspire to attend to each individual skier's needs, providing a programme of personalised ski coaching and goal setting, rather than just general instruction provided by the system - more like having a personal trainer, than being a member of a gym class," Smith says.

"Snoworks course programmes are designed with the goal of efficiently being able to ski all snow and mountain terrains, and developing the necessary skills required.

"Many intermediate skiers have reached what we term ‘The Intermediate Plateau‘ - the point at which skiers feel they no longer appear to improve.

"It's really simple to understand why it occurs and we have helped many skiers move forward to ski the whole mountain in all conditions, rather than be limited to certain pistes and specific conditions."

Snoworks courseSnoworks course - photo Snoworks














Snoworks runs all-terrain, backcountry and touring courses and race camps.

As well as France (Tignes & Val d'Isere, Sainte Foy, Paradiski, Les 3 Vallees) they have courses this season in:

  • Austria
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Iceland
Snoworks race trainingSnoworks race training - photo Snoworks


BASS is a school for English language speakers in 11 resorts in France.

They are:

  • Chamonix
  • Chatel
  • Morzine
  • Les Gets
  • Courchevel
  • Meribel
  • Megeve
  • St Gervais
  • Les Contamines
  • Tignes
  • Val d'Isere

BASS says it has sympathetic instructors who won't take their clients anywhere they don't want to go and are focused on fun.

BASS instructorsBASS instructors in 2016 - photo BASS
















"A caring, humorous approach makes the lesson a pleasure for everyone involved," it says on its website.

"We promise you that we can and will take you straight to the joy of these great snow sports. 
You will have much more fun from your sport. Your holiday will become the highlight of your year."

Among its courses BASS has premium group lessons with just four skiers in each group, courses for juniors of all ages, ski touring, off piste and piste courses.

BASS juniorBASS junior customer - photo BASS















There are also several courses specifically for women.

"These courses can provide a supportive, ego-free and fun atmosphere which offers something completely different to the often male-dominated learning environments that most women are used to," the company says.

"Women of course thrive in mixed gender environment when they have learned the skills but when still learning new skills that are sometimes challenging and take a bit more time to learn or undertake, the social climate can be very important."


If you're a member of the Ski Club of Great Britain, you can book on one of 210  Freshtracks holidays that include instruction and guiding this season.

They run from the start of December to the end of April and all are hosted by a SCGB leader.

Some people join the Club just so they can take advantage of the Freshtracks trips.

There are Off Piste, Touring, Weekend, Development, Heli & Cat skiing and and Action holidays.

Ski touring with SCGB FreshtracksSki touring with Freshtracks













There are holidays specifically for solo skiers, families, under 39s and over 55s.

The holidays are graded according to ability with some suitable for intermediates with around four weeks' experience.

For some of them you can book the course only, if you would rather arrange your own travel and accommodation.

SCGB Freshtracks in FlaineSCGB members, leader & instructors on a Freshtracks holiday
















"All of our holidays match up skiers of a similar ability, which is the best way to get the most out of your time on the mountain," the Club says.

"It's no surprise that over 80% of our valued customers rebook with us."

There are way too many locations to mention but, as well as the usual Alpine resorts, Freshtracks holidays will go to Spain, Slovakia, Japan, Norway, the USA and Canada this season.


Maison Sport is an online booking service which allows you to find and book the right ski or snowboard instructor at the right price and location for you.

More than 450 instructors in 70 resorts across Europe - mainly France but also Italy and Switzerland -  are signed up and offer private and group lessons and children's lessons.

Maison Sport lessonLesson booked through Maison Sport - photo Maison Sport

















It can be cheaper to book direct with an instructor rather than go through a ski school.

Another advantage is that you have direct contact with the instructor before you commit so you can be sure he or she meets your needs.

Complete beginners are catered for too.

Customers who book through Maison Sport post reviews of the instructor online for other potential customers to read.

Instructors also review their lessons and message clients through the online account, so your tips and advice are ready for the next trip.


ESF or Ecole du Ski Francais, is said to be the largest ski school in the world.

It has been around since 1937.

It has 17,000 instructors working in 250 locations all over the French Alps.

ESF in La TaniaESF instructors in La Tania - photo ESF















It's been making efforts to attract more British skiers and snowboarders to its lessons in recent years.

"We have made significant steps in appealing to the British market and indeed the international market during the past few years," said Mark Neville, who heads up the ESF UK office.

"From the progress in the scheduling and sheer choice of lesson made by each director, down to the enthusiasm of our instructors to teach British skiers, our customers are encouraged to join the ESF family and ‘experience the freedom'."

Some 80 per cent of its instructors are now said to speak English.

ESF will take anyone of any level, including children from the age of three.

The sheer size of ESF means it has instructors offering coaching in any discipline.

They include Nordic, biathlon, freestyle, telemark and disabled skiing.


The company's courses and lessons take place in Les2Alpes, Alpe d'Huez, Serre Chevalier and the classic off-piste ski area of La Grave.

Tip Top Ski Coaching is run by Alex Chapman, a BASI Level 4 qualified instructor with full French equivalence.

Tip Top Ski CoachingTip Top in Les2Alpes - photo Tip Top Ski Coaching
















You can book group or private lessons, off-piste, spring touring and race courses.

And, if you're good enough and want to work towards getting your instructor's qualifications, Tip Top Coaching runs BASI training courses to take you from the basic Level 1 up to Level 4.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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