September 2018 – Alpine Level 1

Ski Instructor Training

There are several routes you can take to become a ski instructor. For example, you can qualify through the Irish system, Canadian system, British system, on an internship program or as stand alone elements. There is no right or wrong way, it’s what suits you. I chose the British system with the British Association of Snowsports Instructors (BASI).


Unable to do an internship program due to my job as an NHS nurse I opted to complete my BASI training in stand alone elements and enrolled on the starting level course; Alpine Level 1. My time with BASI was to be beset by problems.

The stand alone elements needed for a BASI Alpine Level 1 are:

Level 1 training

Children’s Safeguarding

First Aid

35 hours snowsports school shadowing

Disclosure and barring clearance

Due to my NHS job I already met most of these elements leaving me just needing Alpine Level 1 training and 35 hours snowsports school shadowing.

Earlier in the summer I had enrolled on the Alpine Level 1 training course at Castleford for September and was using a week annual leave from work in order to do the week long course. My summer was spent studying the manual and pre-course material.

With 2 weeks to go I received an email from BASI informing me my course was cancelled, I had until lunchtime the following day to accept an alternative at Manchester or lose my place. Accepting Manchester would mean sorting out travel and accommodation. I had just finished a twelve hour shift at work and was on another twelve hour shift the following day. There was no way I could meet the deadline set by BASI; I had lost my training place.

My mum ran a small bed and breakfast. One person who stays there regularly and had taken an interest in my training as a ski instructor was a man named John Mordue. I sent him an email updating him,  saying I was no longer training as a ski instructor and why.

Now it turns out that John Mordue is on the board of directors at BASI. My email created a real fuss ! Phone calls were made, the Chief Executive got involved and when I got back from work that following day there was a lengthy, grovelling, apologetic email from BASI. More importantly I had been given a place at Manchester. My training was back on.

Alpine Level 1

Our Alpine Level 1 trainer was  a man named Will; a likeable guy and very easy to get  on with. The sort of person who is fully  at ease with you which in turn makes you very at ease with him. He was very tolerant of me still picking fault with BASI.  

Will was an amazing skier; afterall he was the trainer.  The very first run he did left us all standing at the top of the indoor slope, open mouthed asking one another ‘how did he just do that ?!!’

Skiing for 38 years since the age of 6 meant I had picked up a lot of bad habits. I skied with my weight too far back, didn’t bend my knees or move my upper body enough. There was a lot of correction to be done. It was going to be a difficult week.

I put in long hours on the slope practising late into the evening, determined to get things corrected and pass. My skiing improved and I passed both the teaching and long turn criteria. However, my short turns were a problem. Our trainer did his best to get me to the correct technical standard but at the end of the week long course they still weren’t correct; I’d not passed and would need to take another exam for my short turns. I was gutted. I had promised Will I would pass and felt that in failing the course I had let not only myself down but him as well.

I also knew how difficult getting booked onto the one day re-assessment would be. We were writing January’s off duty at work. In order to guarantee being off work for the re-assessment I would need to use annual leave and I had none left.

Freedom Snowsports

Will advised me not to book onto the re-assessment until the problems with my short turns were corrected. I continued with the practice driving to the indoor slopes at either Castleford or Manchester when I could. I even did a two day ski performance course with someone who was a BASI trainer. Nothing helped. My short turns were still a problem. I was getting nowhere and running out of ideas.

I then remembered one of the training group mentioning Will had his own ski school in Chamonix, France and I had asked her for his surname on the last day of the training course. The solution had been there all along; go back to Will.

Typing his name and ‘ski instructor Chamonix’ into an internet search engine led me to him and his ski school in Chamonix, Freedom Snowsports.

Freedom Snowsports based in the Chamonix area of France covers Chamonix, Saint Gervais and Megève all of which make up the Evasion Ski Area. The villages and towns are pretty, frequent flights to Geneva, plentiful accommodation. Will hand picks his team of instructors and both him and his instructors are some of the best in the business. Whether you are learning to ski for the first time or looking to improve having a lesson at his ski school is one of the best things you will ever do.

For more information go to his website

I sent a message and we provisionally agreed on me going out for some extra training in December. The snow came and went. I had snowsports school shadowing booked in Switzerland with New Generation from the middle of December. As I left for Switzerland Chamonix had no snow; my extra training with Will wasn’t going to happen.

Go on … book a lesson with Will or one of his instructors. You’ll have so much fun.

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