Tag Archives: ski school

Where do ski instructors come from?


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.

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.

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

Photo from www.magicfr.com


A ski holiday with children is easy if you use a Nanny service

A ski holiday with children is easy if you use a Nanny service

This blog post is by Nicole Wallbank from Meribel Nanny Services 

nanny childcare ski school meribelA day with a nanny!

Youre looking at all the things ready to put in your suitcases and wondering, how is it going to fit? And have I got everything? Going skiing with your children is a great holiday but there’s a lot of organising to be done before and after you arrive which can feel overwhelming………..

Cue your private ski nanny, she knows what the children need for the day ahead, how to get their ski boots on, where ski school drop off is, the best places to take the children to lunch and the best places for snowman building and sledging.

Having a flexible private nanny for the week can mean you really can just ski, relax and enjoy your stress free holiday.

What does the nanny actually do with the children all day?

The first day is the most hectic.Your nanny will swoop in early to make sure she has all the correct details, which of course she does as you have spoken to the childcare manager before your arrival and the nanny has even bought a toy box with lots of amazing toys, including a mass of train track pieces which you had put on your information form as a favourite toy of your sons.

Knowing there is a toy box at your chalet for the week has meant that you haven’t had to bring a whole suitcase just full of toys!

meribel la tania ski school childcareSki School

Ski school starts at 9:15 and the nanny has let you know it is best to get there for 9am on the first day to find the right class and settle the older children in. She starts to help get the children ready which is great as you also have to get ready yourself and you haven’t got a clue where your ski pants and helmet are.

She goes through the check list, thermals, fleece, ski socks, ski pants, waterproof mittens, sun cream, snood, coat, helmet and boots and ski’s oooops and not to forget a snack in their pocket plus 5 euros for a drink and that’s the children ready.

The children are in the car and ready to go as the grown up’s collect their last bits together and off we go.

Its half term and ski school can be really busy but the nanny knows exactly where to go and who to speak to, to find out who the children’s instructors are. The older two are happy to go off with their instructor but little Jack is only 4 and has never skied before. He is feeling a bit shy and unsure but the nanny reassures him and tells him she will stay with him during his lesson then after they can go for a play in the snow together.

This cheers him up and off they all go with the instructor leaving mum and dad to head to the chairlift for their first day skiing relaxed and sure that their children are in safe hands.

Once little Jack is finished his first ski lesson he and the nanny go off to do a bit of sledging, go for a play at the park and for a Crepe then at 1:15 go to pick up his older brother and sister from their lessons and get the bus back to the chalet.

Mum and Dad give the nanny a quick call to see how everything is and all the children are fine and happy.

They have a nice warm pasta lunch and build a town with a gigantic train track running through and around it a game of hide and seek before colouring a picture to stick in their holiday diaries.

Then it’s time to pop on all their layers and ski clothes and head out to play in the snow, building snow castles and a snowman the size of Jack.

Meanwhile mum and dad have had a great ski a lovely lunch and have come back to very happy busy children, a warm cup of tea and a lovely afternoon tea cake while their chalet hosts get dinner ready….. A very relaxing first day of skiing.

 Take a look at the childcare and nanny services that we recommend in Meribel and La Tania.

Meribel – My First Time

Meribel – My First Time

We like to make sure our staff know as much as they can about our ski holidays. As the season begins to get underway, we sent the newest member of our UK based team out to Meribel…

On Monday the 2nd I arrived in Meribel for the first time, I have come on an Alpine Action trip to experience the area and take an inside view on how the chalets work and what their hosts get up to…

When I first drove up the mountain I could already tell how beautiful Meribel was, the views are absolutely amazing! During my time in Meribel I have visited all the Alpine Action chalets and learnt all their different qualities. They range from hot tubs and saunas, to indoor tennis tables and games rooms!

The chalets are all extremely beautiful was huge windows and amazing views, these chalets allow the guests to experience the area whilst indoors and out! All our chalets are filled with brilliant hosts with great personalities and in my time here I’ve come across a lot of humour and had a great laugh!

I skied in Meribel during my time here and the slopes were fantastic! I’m lucky enough to have skied before the season officially starts which meant I practically had the slopes to myself! I had a lesson with Parallel Lines in the morning which was so helpful in working on my technique and I had fun whilst doing so.

I stopped for lunch at the bottom of the mountain where I found a range of bars with great food which set me off for the rest of my afternoon skiing.

I carried on skiing with some of the hosts and saw amazing views from the tops of the mountains and had a brilliant afternoon on the slopes, a highlight of my week!

I also hired my skis and boots from ‘The North Face’ who were so helpful and quick when sorting out my rental and set me up for a great day on the slopes.

I have also spent some of my time in La Tania, visiting the chalets and the town, this is a place where everyone knows everyone. I went for dinner and drinks at ‘Le Ski  Lodge’ in La Tania and had some lovely food and a great night out, with a live band. It was a brilliant atmosphere and every where I looked was smiles. I have loved my time here and I have felt very welcome throughout my stay.

I’ve seen these hosts go through very thorough training over the past week and spent my time here in spotless chalets tasting delicious trial meals!

They have all been working so hard and the company have done a brilliant job in preparing them in every way for when the first guests of the season to arrive.

When I came to Meribel I wasn’t sure what to expect but I have been amazed with what I have seen and the time I have had here and would definitely recommend an Alpine Action chalet holiday in either of these towns to anyone!

I would love to come back to Meribel and La Tania and stay in an Alpine Action chalet. There are so many things I haven’t had time to do but if I did I would visit the ice rink and swimming pool, watch an ice hockey match! There are so many things to do in Meribel and La Tania and a great time to be had, amazing views to see and amazing slopes to ski!

I’m flying back to the UK tomorrow but I am very jealous of all the seasonnaires staying out here for this season and I know all the guests are going to have amazing time too!

Kayleigh Foreman