Tag Archives: ski lessons

Where do ski instructors come from?

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A ski instructor is a highly skilled, highly trained and highly qualified individual they don’t just get dropped of by the ski stork pre-packaged in their instructors uniform. To become an instructor the individual must be highly motivate and incredibly committed as the cost of the training can be similar to the costs of attending university and getting a degree. As we all know there are international qualifications and there is the “French” qualification. As many of us ski and have lessons in France we have written this guide on the difference between the two systems and the route an instructor takes.

Ski Instructors from Most of the World

It may seem an oversimplification to lump everyone together but in general the qualifications follow a standard structure such as in Canada and New Zealand but for ease we will look at the UK system. The British qualification comes from the British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI), and fortunately the qualification can be obtained in other country’s. Many ski instructors holding a BASI qualification will have gained their qualifications in Scotland or in a European ski resort with many wannabe instructors opting to spend whole season training on residential ski instructor courses with companies like Basecamp, who run theirs out of Meribel.

There are generally 4 levels of instructor qualification to obtain. It should be noted that each course requires a level of skiing competence to be accepted on to the program.  Also each course covers elements of first aid and emergency procedure that is appropriate to level of instruction they will be qualified in.

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Photo from Basecampgroup.com

Level 1 – This can take three weeks and the end the instructor will be qualified to teach on indoor or dry slopes, children up to the age of 12 as part of a ski school as well as run ski racing training sessions for more serious skiers.

Level 2 – This is a 7 week course and as you can imagine requires more in-depth training and focuses more on technical aspects of  ski racing as well as developing the skills of the instructors on piste coaching.

Level 3 – Is where it gets tough and moves in to international territory and the qualification needed can an be obtained from the ISIA . Before an instructor can move to level 3 they must have completed 200 hours of teaching, have a second language and passed a level 1 in a second discipline such as snowboarding. During the course they will have train in mountain safety, performance training  and a common theory course and exam. All the hard work means that they can teach most mountain styles and techniques as well as being able to take clients off piste.

Level 4 – Requires a further 200 hours teaching and 6 days of ski touring achieved before they can start the course. They are also required to take the following: Euro Speed test, a written project, endless theory courses, Level 2 in a second discipline and be subjected to a interview. But all this hard work makes them able to teach anything to anyone and go anywhere on the mountain, the dream job.

Instructors are required to take a refresher courses every three years, to make sure they are up to date with safety, first aid and technique developments.

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Photo from www.esf-meribel.com

Ski Instructors in France

Despite what your are lead to believe being an instructor in France isn’t exclusive to the French, it just requires a bit more work as they have a different route to become a ski instructor and is similar to the systems of Italy and Austria. In France a individual wanting to be a ski instructor must first get into a ski school registered to train, get a first aid certificate, complete a two week residential and pass the notorious Test Technique, which requires an instructor to complete a slalom course within a set time.  This first step is the equivalent of Level 1 and the progress is very similar from there on with instructors to pass different levels of competence and complete 100’s of teaching hours to move up the qualifications. Once an Instrcutor has.reached the highest level then can then leave the umbrella of the ESF and set up independent ski schools such as Magic in Motion. It is possible for people from outside of France to enter the system at any stage but the Test Technique is an essential requirement as is speaking French.

This is just a summary of the levels of training an instructor has to go through just to make sure we aren’t dragging out inside edge when turning. If you are interested in finding out more about how people become ski instructors the take a look at these websites Basi.org.uk, Baseampgroup.com, isiaski.org and esf-uk.co.uk

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Photo from www.magicfr.com

 


The Morris Family Holiday – Part Four, The Lift Pass Office

The Morris Family Holiday – Part Four, The Lift Pass Office

Regular readers of this adventure may be aware that at the end of part one there was a literary cliff-hanger. You may also be aware that it has not been resolved for 3 months now. Well good news readers this is the part where it gets resolved.

For the benefit of those too lazy to here is a quick recap. I pre order lift passes online. I put them in my ski coat pocket. I have a disagreement about fashion with my son. He repacks my old ski jacket for revenge. We get to resort. I discover the jacket switch. And that brings you up to where we are about to pick up from.

It is hard to have the usual shouting match about something this momentous in chalet with people you don’t know. So I decide to keep my rage for a later date. I explain the situation to my wife and how much the passes cost. She has no qualms about anyone overhearing our situation and precedes to give my son a very loud piece of her mind.

I make my way down for breakfast.
“I hear you have lost your ski passes” the chalet host says.
“Who told you that?” I ask.
“No one”.
I am the first at the table and I start eating quickly in the hope that I miss everyone else.
“Good Morning, I hear you are having a spot of bother with your pre booked lift pass” says the man staying in the room two floors up from us.
“Did my wife tell you that?”
“Sort of”.

As the chalet host delivers my cooked breakfast she tells me that she has called the Rep and she is on her way to help deal with my issue. This is very kind of her but really ads to the embarrassment. For me a resort Rep is there to help with simple things such as showing me where the coach is or booking a restaurant. Or help with extreme problems such as medical emergencies or server weather affecting our flight. Not a family prank that has escalated. I thank the chalet host and wait for the Rep.

I retire to the lounge with a mug of coffee and a newspaper that was dropped off by another member of the resort staff. I expect that on his application for the position he pit that he was looking to work in the news industry, as the paper was delivered with some resort news that a family had booked there lift passes online and left them back in the UK. “That’s €800 down the toilet” was probably the comment in the editorial comments.

I was joined in the lounge by a ski instructor who had turned up to collect some guest. He looked at me and said “never have I witnessed this happening before. When I heard I called my girlfriend up and told her all about it. She works in the Lift Pass office”
“Can she offer any advice?” I ask.
“Yes, she said that you should always double check your packing”. I was starting to feel as if I was in a sitcom. Enter stage right the resort rep.
“This hasn’t happened before”.

When I was informed that the Resort Manager had been called I hoped that the sitcom I was in wasn’t about to turn into a holiday to a hotel in Torquay. Fortunately the manager had been employed based on his experience and knowledge and not on his likeness to John Cleese. Somehow the rest of my family had carried on as if there was nothing wrong and that no one had heard the yelling earlier.

It was decided that we would go to the lift pass office to straighten out the situation. That is all of us. The manager was coming to sort it out, the Rep was coming to learn how to sort it out, the host came to collect as she needed some more piste maps anyway, my wife came to see how badly I got on and to remind me not to do this next year, the children came as they were hoping to see me get shouted at by their mother and the ski instructor came too. I assume the instructor was keen to see his girlfriend and in no way planned on finding amusement in our misfortune.

We all squeezed in to a small office and waited for a person of authority on lift passes to appear. I was preparing to lose “€800 down the toilet” as well as this public humiliation continuing. The authority appears and to my delight utters the words “this happens all the time”. I left the lift pass office feeling slightly less stupid than when I went in and temporally €800 worse off, until I get back to the UK and prove that we didn’t use the lift passes. I think the ski instructor was more disappointed than me.

We thanked all involved, which was similar to an Oscars speech with less crying, and get ready to go skiing. We had a great day on the slopes and I forgot all about the morning. At the end of the day as we headed to a bar for a beer I was handed a leaflet.
“Save Time, Pre book your lift pass on line”


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