BASI Trainer Quality Assurance

Written by Becci Malthouse, BASI Trainer and co-director of the British Alpine Ski and Snowboard School  in Morzine

Life is full of challenges and the road to becoming a BASI trainer was certainly one of the most demanding. Working through the BASI system in itself is a long process that involves training, gaining teaching experience and exams at each level. In fact, it was so long ago that I qualified as a fully-fledged Level 4 ISTD that the qualification was then known as Grade 1. Since becoming a trainer I have had the privilege of working with many groups in both snowboard and alpine disciplines, at all levels, and felt the joy of success and the emotion of failure when the results come around on Friday. But, and there is a ‘but’; being a trainer for BASI is a job and not a qualification. There are new Level 4 teachers qualifying each year who would love to do this job so there will always be an evolution of new trainers joining the crew and other trainers leaving the team. Each trainer receives an annual review, which, provides feedback from the course debriefs, peer reviews with additions from the BASI office and training department. This review process has developed hugely in the last few years, becoming a valuable tool for continual professional development.

If we fall below acceptable levels we risk being removed from the trainer list. We all strive to develop our knowledge and skill to continually improve our delivery of the BASI product. In our own ski school, we have an incentive to ‘learn something new’ each year to give us the perspective of a learner and to encourage ‘new thinking’ that we can apply to our teaching. However, we are all aware, training and developing is very different from being assessed. Training encourages us to ‘trial by error’ in a pressure free environment where we can learn by our mistakes. Assessment is ‘prove what you can do’, ‘show us that you are good enough’. The BASI training department decided it was time to live by our own values and reintroduce a quality assurance assessment, to be attended by all trainers, which has not been part of our processes for quite a few years. So, what is involved? One day of training followed by a one day assessment. That’s right, one day. It’s pull it out of the bag time, baby. My approach was get ready and prepare. I attended the Interski selection weekend in December 2014 in Zermatt with the aim of getting out on the hill with good skiers and raising my game. I hadn’t really thought about it but we had results day on the second afternoon, which is the same as every BASI course. Sit in the café and go to the trainer/selector for the result, one by one. This was easy, my goals had already been reached by having a fantastic weekend of skiing with fabulous people so, no nerves. This was only thrown out of kilter by being selected for the team: one more reason to keep my skiing up to scratch. During the season I spent time training bumps as this is the weakest area of my skiing. I felt it needed the most attention to make sure I felt solid for the assessment. Teaching all season is not an excuse for not skiing well enough.

Next stop, Hintertux in May 2014. I arrived a day early to ski on the terrain, see what the bumps were like and check out the conditions and consider whether I should spend more time sharpening my edges? The assessors were out on the hill, checking out the assessment criteria for each level and calibrating and preparing for the weekend. Saturday 10 May This was supposed to be our training day but bad weather forecasts forced the assessment to be shifted to the first day in case we couldn’t get onto the hill on Sunday. Here’s how it goes; 3 runs of longs, 3 runs of bumps, 3 runs of shorts, central theme, 3 runs of variable. The pistes had turned solid overnight, the bumps were no softer and the variable pitch felt like frozen elephant snot. No demos, no feedback, just get on with it. Off snow, back to the café and queue up to get your results. Now the nerves set in. If I get a no, I lose my job, simple as that. Take my action plan and set to work to get ready to be reassessed. Relief, I passed. Ok for another 3 years before another QA assessment. Phew! Sunday 11 May This was our training day. We are split into groups depending on our training focus and set off to work. Simple, clear feedback helped each of us clarify and start working on our action plans. A few things struck me during the process. Firstly, what a talented, supportive group of people I work with at BASI. Secondly, if you want to pass a course, do the work and prepare.

Lastly, if your only focus is on passing a course, you put yourself under enormous pressure. Be honest about what will give you a successful outcome. If you are open to learning, every course you attend will give you something positive to take away. Slide, enjoy, learn – enjoy, aspire, enjoy.