What influenced you to take the step and do your first season?
It was August 2013 when I decided to become a ski instructor but as with most stories, it was not quite as simple as just making the decision, so I will try to explain just what motivated it.
My whole life I had been fairly academic, achieving good results in most of my exams. This eventually led me to study Mathematics at the University of Bath with a view to a job in the city, something along the lines of banking or insurance. My time at university was fairly mixed. I made some great friends and had some great experiences but unfortunately I really did not enjoy the course. Looking back I feel I grew as a person and learnt more about myself than I did about my degree, however, I have always found it incredibly difficult to quit something I have started, so I stuck it out and graduated in 2013.
At this point I was desperate to do something different, if only for a little bit, so I decided a ski season would be the perfect next step. Skiing has been my greatest passion for as long as I can remember, so that decision was easy.
What made you want to do a ski instructors course?
It was more difficult to decide exactly what I wanted to do on the season. I looked into various jobs in the Alps but nothing seemed to provide the one thing I really wanted, lots of time on the slopes. Then my parents told me of an advert they had seen in Courchevel on a recent trip they had been on. New Generation were offering courses to become a ski instructor. It was everything I wanted, plenty of skiing and I would hopefully come out with a new qualification. At the time, the qualification was an added bonus but not much more than that.
This changed dramatically in August 2013 when I suffered from a stroke. It may be a bit of a cliché, but there really is nothing like a near death experience to change your outlook on life. I am now ashamed to admit it but until that point my whole life had been about money. I had studied and worked hard purely to get a high paying job; and for what? So I could afford to go skiing on holiday. Since that day I have been driven by the desire to get the most of out every single day and to enjoy it. At the risk of sounding morbid, life is just too short to not spend it doing something you love.
Did you enjoy your first instructors course with New Generation?
I embarked upon my 10 Week BASI 1 and 2 Course with New Generation and it proved to be everything I had imagined. Not only did I get to ski every day, but I was improving my own technique and my understanding of the sport. I loved every minute of it. For the first time in many years, I knew why I was doing what I was doing. For me, a prime example of that was the first time I sat down to write a skiing CV after the chat with Euan Wright. I remembered spending hours slaving over job applications to banks, trying to fabricate some convincing reason why I really wanted to work for that bank. So it was with some trepidation that I sat down to write my CV for Thredbo. However, this time I found it easy. So much of what I had done over the years for my own enjoyment had given me experience of teaching and leading others; from Camp America to my time in the combined cadet force at school. I did not struggle coming up with answers for the myriad of questions I was presented with, I merely had to articulate my thoughts. It may seem unimportant but this was one of the moments that confirmed for me I was finally on the right track.
What did you do after your first season?
My enthusiasm for the profession must have been apparent and I was offered work for Interski at the end of the season and for Thredbo during the Australian winter. These were my first real tastes of working as a ski instructor and it did not disappoint. In fact, I loved it so much that I endured 88 days of farm work to secure a visa and I will be returning to Thredbo this year on the 12th June.
How was the step up from Level 2 to Level 3?
Obviously, within this profession there can and will be setbacks. This season provided my first exposure to them. Training for my ISIA with New Generation in Courchevel, I suffered two significant injuries which kept me off skis for about four weeks of the eight week training. Even when I was able to get back on skis, I was not fully fit and not able to ski as well as I would have liked. This, no doubt, contributed to me just missing out on my technical exam in Hintertux. The feedback I received was, in my trainer’s words, a bitter pill to swallow. I had passed every aspect except for my short turns, where I had fallen short on the inconsistency of my left foot turns. However, it is not our failures that define us; it is our ability to bounce back. This season has served to make me more determined than ever and I believe that is testament to my passion for the sport.
So we come to the present day and my story is nearly at an end. The only thing left is to answer the question, why New Generation? This, again, is one I find remarkably easy to answer. Not only have I heard nothing but praise for the programme New Generation runs but I have also seen firsthand the sort of organisation it is. To me, it seems more like a family than a business and everyone wants to help out; they want to go the extra mile. Just one of many examples of this was Tom Speakman offering his free time to take us out in the weeks after our training had officially finished. It is the little things that mean so much that make me want to be a part of New Generation and continue to work and train with them in Verbier.