What is a snowboard or ski instructor course actually like? Well, we offer courses in five incredible (but quite different) locations – so it’s tricky to answer. We’ve put together this guide, so you can compare and contrast courses in the five locations we currently offer, and get a feel of what to expect. You’ll find details on the towns, the resorts, the terrain, the accommodation, the SnowSkool course, the qualifications, and the people. However, if you do have more questions, please do get in touch!
Before we compare each course, here are some tips:
- Get you fitness up before the course. You’ll be surprised how much the altitude takes out of your fitness. There are tonnes of ski- or snowboard-focussed circuits online; think about incorporating some yoga and cardio too.
- If you’re doing a ski instructor course, get yourself some decent piste skis (no matter how lame you think they look). Your twin-tips or all-mountains won’t be forgiving when the course intensifies.
- Consider staying out in resort after your instructor course. Our courses don’t run all-season long, so think about sorting further accommodation to stay and make the most of the remaining season – or get hired with your new qualification!
- Create some kind of record of your season. It could be regularly uploading a photo; taking a one-second video every day; emailing someone at home; or go old-school with a diary… the course will no doubt feel like a whirlwind and you’ll love looking back on it in the future.
We also want to mention, you shouldn’t worry if:
- You haven’t been away from home for an extended period of time before. This is the case for lots of people on our courses – so you’ll be in similar company! Doing a catered instructor course like SnowSkool means lots of the daunting planning is done for you: arranging accommodation, food shopping, booking training / exams, and finding friends. We’ve been running these courses for years and – even though we think we’ve seen it all – there’s no such thing as a silly question. You’ll have an amazing rep on-hand in resort to help you out and SnowSkool’s HQ team are just a WhatsApp away.
- You forget stuff. Stick to the packing list we send out… double- or triple-check… and you’ll still leave something behind! Don’t worry. None of our instructor courses are so remote that you won’t be able to access a shop or get a bus to a bigger town. You’ll also be living with a load of like-minded people, so chances are they might have spare of what you need.
- You get ill – you probably will! A combination of the cold, training hard, new people, new bugs, nights out etc. will leave you susceptible to getting ill. It’ll probably take the form of a cough or cold. Other ailments you’ll probably face are dry, cracked lips and hands, and bruised or aching muscles. Pack some just-in-case meds (pharmacies are pretty expensive in ski resorts) and even multi-vitamins can help.
- You feel a ‘lull’. It’s a bit of a taboo but, a few weeks into your season or course, you might feel a bit low. This ‘lull’ is just your body catching up to its new exciting (and exhausting) routine and your mind adjusting to stimulus overload from the initial few weeks. The lull hits just before you really solidify great friendships, and before your skiing or riding hits that next level – so push through! Get some good nights’ sleep and be social as social as you can.
- You don’t instantly make loads of friends. It might seem like everyone around you is super-outgoing and getting on great but, don’t panic, they’re probably feeling really similar to you! Focus on your amazing surroundings, the course and your ace instructor; be patient, don’t try too hard and the great people will find their way to you.
What to expect on an instructor course in the Three valleys
SnowSkool accommodation in the Three Valleys
- Alpine chalet accommodation in Méribel
- 200m walk to the chairlift
- <10-minute walk to Méribel Centre
- Chalet hosts cooking for you and running the chalet
- Breakfast and home-cooked evening meals are provided six days a week
- Large, cosy, communal areas
- Standard rooms are twin-share with en-suite (upgrades available)
SnowSkool’s instructor course in the Three Valleys – 11 weeks
In the Three Valleys, January through to March, SnowSkool works with the British Alpine Ski School (BASS) - without doubt the finest Méribel ski school. In fact, BASS is more than a Ski School; BASS is a specialist instructor-training centre – chock full of BASI Examiners and those who teach the most experienced teachers! Achieving this level takes a lifetime of devotion to skiing or snowboarding, hence our Three Valleys instructor course is a very full-on and thorough course. In general, it’s experienced skiers or riders that joins SnowSkool in France. This is our toughest course. We also offer a 10-day improver course.
On the Three Valleys ski and snowboard instructor courses, you will work towards the qualifications of BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors).* It will require a solid amount of work and dedication, as well as logging the required amount of Ski School experience (35 hours for Level 1 and 35 hours for Level 2). To qualify for your Level 2 exam, you first must pass your Level 1. *Snowboard qualification info here
The Three Valleys’ atmosphere and terrain
The Three Valleys is the world’s largest ski area – with 600km of pistes alone. It’s made up of a few villages with the famous Méribel, Courchevel and Val Thorens being the biggest. Méribel strikes the perfect balance of picturesque Alpine looks, but with the buzz of lots going on. It’s a mecca for seasonniares, especially Brits, as you can find pretty much all on and off snow activities here.
What to expect on an instructor course in Big White
SnowSkool accommodation in Big White
- Apartment accommodation, with the whole SnowSkool course
- All SnowSkool apartments are ski-in / ski-out
- Access to a hot tub
- Great, central location
- Standard rooms are twins (upgrades available)
- Breakfast and evening meal served five days a week
SnowSkool’s instructor course in Big White – 11 weeks
In January, through to March, more tuition is offered on SnowSkool Big White than on any other course. During the 11 weeks, tuition is offered five hours a day / five days a week. All SnowSkool ski and snowboard tuition is delivered by the most senior instructors in the Big White Ski & Board School, and most are elite Level 4 instructors. SnowSkool’s group sizes are kept small with a maximum of just eight per trainer – you’re unlikely to get that on other instructor courses.
Ski instructors in Canada are regulated by the CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance). On SnowSkool’s Big White course, you’ll have the opportunity to sit the Level 1 and Level 2 exams of CSIA. As well as that, the CSIA Snow Park Certification and the CSCF (Canadian Ski Coaches Federation) Race Coach are also available (within the 11 weeks). Snowboarders in Canada will take Level 1 and 2 exams set by CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors). We also offer a five-week condensed course.
Big White’s atmosphere and terrain
Big White is a slightly calmer town that Banff. It’s also slightly smaller so you get a really tight-knit, community feel. For this reason, the SnowSkool course often ends up with a slightly older crowd. That said, the ski terrain still packs a big-mountain punch! It’s covered in fun tree routes and fluffy powder.
What to expect on an instructor course in Banff
SnowSkool accommodation in Banff
- Fun, hostel-style accommodation
- On-site pub (The Storm Cellar) with free pool table, table football & darts
- On-site restaurant (Cougar Pete’s)
- Open-mic jam nights/Karaoke/Comedy gigs
- Cosy, communal seating area with fireplace
- Standard rooms are four-share (upgrades available)
- Breakfast and evening meal five days a week
SnowSkool’s instructor course in Banff – 13 weeks
On the SnowSkool Banff course, January through to March, tuition is offered five days a week, sometimes up to six hours a day. Tuition is delivered by our pick of the most highly-qualified and experienced ski instructors from the Sunshine Village Ski & Board School. Again, most instructors are Level 4 (the highest level available) or very experienced Level 3 ski instructors. Either way, all are CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance) examiners – so know what you need to be working towards.
On the SnowSkool Banff 13-week instructor course, you’re also working towards your Level 1 and 2 CSIA qualifications, and your CSCF Race and CSIA Snow Park certificates. Snowboarders in Canada will take Level 1 and 2 exams set by CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors).
Banff’s atmosphere and terrain
Banff is SnowSkool’s longest-running and most popular course. This might just be because it’s just so fun! The majority of students are fresh out of school or college and full of energy – on and off the snow. The terrain here is world-class – from groomers to incredible backcountry and park. This is followed up with a buzzing town, packed full of fun and activities.
What to expect on an instructor course in Cardrona
SnowSkool accommodation in Cardrona
- Homely, chalet-style hostel we have the sole use of
- Right in the centre of Wanaka (the nearest town to the slopes)
- Comfy lounge with woodburning stove
- Standard dorms are six-share (upgrades available)
- Evening meals are provided five days a week in a restaurant close to the SnowSkool accommodation
SnowSkool’s instructor course in Cardrona – 11 weeks
The course runs through the months of July and September – the southern hemisphere and New Zealand’s winter. On SnowSkool’s New Zealand course, tuition is provided five days a week by instructors from the Cardrona ITC – Instructor Training Centre. Our course provides more tuition hours than any other course in New Zealand. The trainers employed in the ITC have been hand-picked for their experience and their ability to train future instructors. 50% of all New Zealand Ski Instructors’ Alliance (NZSIA) trainers in New Zealand and 50% of the NZSIA Interski demo team are based at Cardrona. This means that the 20-odd other resorts in New Zealand have to share the other 50%!
NZSIA is the national ski instructor qualification and SBINZ (Snowboard Instructors of New Zealand) is the national snowboard instructor qualification. On the SnowSkool course, you’ll work towards your Level 1 & Level 2 ski instructor exams and the NZSIA qualification. NZSIA Level 2 is very well-regarded throughout the world. SnowSkool can also offer a Park & Pipe exam.
Cardrona’s atmosphere and terrain
Cardrona offers the perfect location for a ski or snowboard instructor course – plenty of mellow terrain that is ideal for nailing your drills and, for those looking for a little more gnar, areas such as Captain’s Basin, Arcadia Chutes and Tulips offer some nice natural features, steeps and moguls to allow you to work on technique. One of Cardie’s stand-out features is its range of freestyle terrain parks; four parks including the biggest one in the southern hemisphere… with kickers up to 85ft, an Olympic Superpipe, a skier-cross circuit and a whole range of jib features. Everyone lives off the mountain, down in Wanaka, which gives a great sense of community – but also helps you make the most of downtime away from the slopes.
What to expect on a ski internship in Zell am See
We’re still selecting our perfect accommodation for SnowSkool’s ski instructor internships. However, the accommodation will be on a self-catered basis and standard rooms will be twin-share (upgrades will be available too).
SnowSkool’s internship in Zell am See – 17 weeks
From December through to to late March early April, the training element takes up the first seven weeks of your 17-week ski instructor internship. For your development, we work with the most experienced instructors from the Ski Schule Zell am See including a BASI ISTD instructor (this is the highest level available in the BASI system).
As well as taking responsibility for your on-snow development, Ski Schule Zell am See will also be your employer for the season. With four offices in Zell am See, this is the go-to ski school with the biggest customer base in the area. SnowSkool students will be scheduled in to work over the Xmas and New Year period and through February. In Austria, ski instructor wages are guaranteed based on a pre-determined number of hours so helping with your seasonal budgeting.
As with the Three Valleys instructor course, on the SnowSkool ski internships, you will go for your BASI Level 1 and 2 qualifications. Again, you will be required to log the required amount of Ski School experience (35 hours for Level 1 and 35 hours for Level 2). Once qualified, you’ll then become employed by the ski school, for the remaining weeks.
Zell am See’s atmosphere and terrain
By itself, Zell am See is not a huge ski area but, for 2016/17 season, the new cable link was completed to link Zell/Kaprun up to the Skicircus resorts of Saalbach, Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn. With 380km of pistes, this is now the largest ski area in Austria! The glacier at Kaprun also ensures a very long season of skiing. Zell itself offers equal terrain for beginners, intermediates and experts – so it’s perfect for teaching. There is a half-pipe on Schmittenhohe and a terrain park by the Hochmaisbahn. Austria is known for its bizarre-yet-charming après, and friendly atmosphere – compared to the more serious French equivalents!
Hopefully this helps you get a grip of what a SnowSkool instructor course is like!
Browse our blog for literally hundreds more articles on every element of our courses - from finding an instructor job, to being a good roommate! If you still have questions, get in touch by calling, emailing [email protected] or filling out this form. Alternatively - if you're up for it, fill in a booking form now and get started on your journey to becoming an instructor!