The last run of the season is always a sad occasion. You choose a long one so you can really soak up the alpine air, but before you’ve even got to the ‘Slow Zone’, you start counting the days until you’re back on the white stuff. And then you see a kid, all bundled up, practising her snow plough, and you realise there might be a solution to the agony of summer after all…
A career as a ski or snowboard instructor can take you around the world, imparting your wisdom and passion to hundreds of burgeoning snow bunnies. You need never see summer again! It’s not all breezy babysitting of kids in mittens, though. Courses for snow sport instructors are intensive and comprehensive, requiring qualifications with an association recognised by the International Snowsport Instructors’ Association (ISIA).
Instructing is an ideal opportunity for snow-loving students, disillusioned corporate types and active retirees to spend every day on the mountain and earn your keep while you’re at it. Starting out with a gap year course in Europe or North America means you can get your Level Two qualifications within twelve weeks so you can teach intermediate snow enthusiasts in the next season; Level One qualification programs will have you teaching the basics after three or four weeks. Some resorts also offer ‘instructorships’ that allow you to teach for the season after obtaining your Level One certification.
In Australia, all instructor training is coordinated through Australian Professional Snowsports Instructors (APSI). After a preparation program of three to seven days, you’ll be ready to take the APSI Level One examination and then get into a job on the mountain. These courses are offered at Perisher Instructor Academy in NSW, and Mt Hotham Academy and Mt Buller Ski and Snowboard School in Victoria. For a more intensive experience, there is also Thredbo’s Elite Instructor Training, offering three- or six-week programs for skiers and three-week programs for snowboarders running in June and July.
If the allure of the foreign is what appeals to you, there are hundreds of programs running in North America, Europe, Argentina and Japan. Most of these courses include share accommodation (full or half board), so you have nothing but your riding and coaching technique to focus on. Choose your country – does Swiss schussing suit? Or is a Canadian powder bowl more your style? There are many associations recognised by ISIA, with the most common (and accepted) being the British BASI, the Canadian CSIA and CASI, the New Zealand NZSIA and the USA’s PSIA. Europe does things a little differently, and each country has its own governing body with stringent application and qualification guidelines, although you can still learn in Europe with another association’s instructor school. SnowSkool, Nonstop Snow, International Academy and Peak Leaders are just some of the transnational companies letting you ride with French flair or Austrian precision.
Canada and the USA are always popular choices with Aussies and Kiwis. Take your pick from short three-week courses, season-long internships and everything in between. Arrive with intermediate skills and leave with qualifications in not only skiing or snowboarding, but also first aid, avalanche safety and backcountry riding. Courses in race and freeriding coaching are also available for those looking for an extra thrill, or choose an internship, like that offered by Nonstop Snow in Fernie, to get into that cosy instructors’ jacket even faster. CSIA and PSIA qualifications are recognised in Australia too, so you can while away the northern summer on the southern slopes.
There are options for every snow-lover – so go out, get qualified and enjoy eternal winter!
Perisher Academy www.perisher.com.au
Mt Hotham Academy www.skiingacademy.com
Mt Buller Ski and Snowboard School www.mtbuller.com.au
Elite Instructor Training www.eliteskiinstructortraining.com
Nonstop Snow www.nonstopsnow.com
International Academy www.international-academy.com
Peak Leaders www.peakleaders.com