Alain Brunelle is the Technical Director at Big White Ski & Snowboard School – ‘It is the best job on the mountain’ he grins

Alain loves his job!  

So, how did he arrive in this dream position? By following his innate, pure, undiluted passion for skiing. This is the simple answer that shone through from start to finish as he recounted his journey.  

Alain says he was “born to ski” 

He was obsessed with skiing from a very early age. And it had nothing to do with being introduced to it from very young. He did not grow up in a family that could afford regular ski trips. But exposed to snow during the long winters growing up in Montreal, Québec, Alain said he instinctively and inexplicably just wanted to ‘glide’ on it. And spent long hours doing just that on little plastic skis.  

When he was a bit older he remembers making the most of free cross-country skiing opportunities on Sundays. Alain only had his first ski resort experience when he was a teenager. So, he was a relatively late starter for someone who went on to instruct and head up ski schools as a career. This is inspiring and encouraging but how did he make this happen from a relative standing start? 

Well ... an invite from Alain’s aunt and family held the key to his skiing dreams. They had a ski cabin at a small resort an hour north of Montreal close to Mont Tremblant, which is where Alain was given his opportunity to begin making his dreams come true. Unsurprisingly Alain made very quick progress on the slopes, and snapped up the offer to help instructing children on the weekends alongside his cousin as soon as he left school.  

Early instructing days

Alain was surprised to find that the only qualification needed was a love of skiing, kids and teaching. This was all the ‘hiring clinic’ needed to see back then, which was clearly palpable in Alain. So that was it. His ski instructor career had begun at 19 years old, lodging provided by his aunt and family. 

After a while, it made sense to obtain a formal Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance (CSIA) Level 2 certification. Training for this was a pivotal moment in time. Meeting CSIA Level 4 ski instructors switched the light on fully for Alain. “I started to understand that you could make a living in the ski business!”. This was it. His path was set. “I totally knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life” he recalls just as effusively as if it was yesterday. He was going to get his level 4, a business degree and be a ski school director. And he did! 

And onto directing 

Alain worked in Québec at first but after two ice-cold seasons of snow and rain he wanted a bit more ‘bluebird’ and ‘fresh pow’. As luck would have it his friend and Technical Director at Red Mountain in British Columbia invited him to sample a winter there. His trip evolved into an instructing job and eventually the Technical Director role, Alain’s friend having moved on to a different resort.  Red Mountain is also where Alain found romantic love. Living and working on a beautiful mountain, enjoying his first ski director role and meeting a partner to share, plot and plan life adventures with - these were good times. 

Looking to run a bigger business, Alain approached Big White Ski Resort, who snapped him up for a happy spell. Still looking for adventure, however, and having wanted to live in Vancouver, Alain’s next move was to Grouse Mountain, where he ran the ski school and summer sports activities. During this time, he and his partner bought a condo at Sun Peaks Resort where they ended up spending many happy years while Alain managed all sports all year round. 

Look at that powder! 

Alain is now working his wonders with SnowSkool in Big White 

Drawn back to Big White in 2019, Alain is currently settled there and enjoying the great relationship he has with SnowSkool. 

As Technical Director Alain trains the trainers and designs the programme SnowSkoolers follow. With his vast experience and huge passion still buzzing away, you just know the programme and trainers will be top-notch.  

Alain says it is the people and the place that makes the SnowSkool course at Big White so special. 

Energy and passion are what make a good instructor. The best instructors can share that with their clients. You need to love people and what you do. It’s a people business” Alain has a brilliant team made up of trainers, whose infectious attributes are passed on in turn to SnowSkool instructor students. 

Alain also really enjoys working with the SnowSkool management team – there is a “good energy between us all” he enthuses. This mutual respect, understanding and commitment to delivering the highest quality ski and snowboard instructor courses from all angles translates to fantastic SnowSkool ski and snowboard instructor courses in Big White

It’s not just the people who determine the character and quality of the courses though. Big White the place plays a huge role. Alain describes it as “the best learning area on the planet” enthusing about what an amazing place it is in which to teach.  

The temperature is always an optimum ski temp between –1 and –10 degrees, it very rarely rains, the snow is beautiful, the terrain is fantastic,and it’s all ski-in, ski-out. This adds up to the best mountain experience you can have in terms of bonding with both people and the mountain. 

Alain says, “If you want to experience the mountain lifestyle, doing a SnowSkool course at Big White is a good start. You will get an understanding of how addictive skiing is!” 

Several SnowSkool graduates have gone on to work in Big White. If you have done the course, you will know the mountain and the people and the way the instructors work, which gives you an advantage. Alain says they always look to the star SnowSkool graduates first when recruiting new instructors. Read about 2022 graduate Darren who never left. 

Alain with his Big White Trainer team


A Synchro champion too! 

If you are lucky you might also experience Alain’s synchro skills. Having done a lot of synchro competitions in Québec, Alain decided to put a team together for Big White to compete at the CSIA Synchro Championship in Jasper, Alberta in 2022. He was excited to tell me about this event not only because they won – Wow! But because their training ended up including an incredible day when the Big White pistes were open only to the team. The resort closed to the public after the first week of April. Jasper stays open longer because it is at a higher elevation, and needing practices, the team was given exclusive access to the whole of the Big White resort. “It was a bluebird day and an amazing experience” beams Alain. 

The ski season is over now, which means Alain’s work involves prepping programmes for next season part of the week and the rest of it playing sports. He just has to keep moving he says, and particularly loves tennis and kitesurfing. So that’s what he does. Quelle vie! 

Alain kiteboarding in Cuba

I’ll end where I started. Alain really loves his job. He embodies the spirit of that dream mountain lifestyle. And is eager to share the love. So ... what are you waiting for? Book one of our Big White courses to grab your share! 

Alain and fellow director Michael Richards have a final message for you here:

With thanks to Alain for taking time to share his story with us. 


Writer Kate Swainson Price 

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