Guest post on the best bits of being a ski instructor by Sam Taylor, BASI Level 4 ISTD instructor and resort manager in the New Generation La Tania Ski School.
In 2005 I began my training with New Generation, and after completing BASI Level 4 became a full-time instructor in the 3 Valleys. Working as an instructor has its challenges like any other job, but where this role differs is there are so many positives. When asked to write a list of the 5 best things about being an instructor, I struggled to whittle it down. So here are ten!
1) Waking up every morning to snow!
In the Alps, every day is a White Christmas. It makes mornings pretty special, and it’s definitely one of the best office views around. It’s a cliché, but that’s because it’s awesome. There’s nothing like walking to work and hearing the crunch of snow under your feet, knowing you get to spend the whole day in the great outdoors.
2) Meeting new people from all walks of life
Every week I have brand new clients, and I never know who I’m going to meet. As the week goes on I find out more about them, and so far I’ve met dentists, builders, doctors, artists, police officers – the list goes on. Although many of my clients are British, I’ve met people from all over the globe too. Some of my colleagues have met celebrities like Richard Branson, Pixie Lott and Gordon Ramsey.
I think mine is the best though – last season I met Eddie the Eagle!
3) Seeing people improve, knowing that I helped them get there
One of the best bits of my job is the satisfaction of watching people get better. They could have been going from snow plough to parallel or just getting over the fear of skiing a black run. Either way, it’s great to see a smile at the end.
4) Helping others become ski instructors
The great thing about being an instructor is that you can inspire other people. I help train instructors on our BASI Level 1 & 2 programmes in the 3 Valleys, and I love it. I know how brilliant it is to teach, so it’s cool to pass that on and help others enjoy it too. There are occasions when trainees have gone through the entire BASI system and ended up working alongside me, which is awesome!
5) Sharing knowledge with other instructors
As part of the instructor community, we can improve by learning from each other. I take opportunities to ski with other instructors and BASI trainers so we can share ideas not just on how to improve our own skiing, but on different ways to teach certain techniques. It’s all about self-improvement, and not becoming stagnant. We’re always pushing ourselves.
Off-piste skiing is my favourite discipline! As an instructor you learn where all the best powder spots are, and take every opportunity to ski fresh lines. Sometimes you have to let your client go first, but when I’m free skiing I’ll make a beeline for the nearest powder. Skiing fresh powder is the best feeling in the world.
7) Making the holidays special
Whether it’s Christmas, Half-term, Easter or any other week, you are a big part of your clients holiday. It’s a big responsibility, but with my BASI training and experience with New Generation I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve to make sure every client has the best time possible. When you’re playing ski-related games with kids you have just as much fun as they do! It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve made people happy, and have had a positive impact on their holiday.
8) Being paid to do what I love
Finding out that you can make a life out of being a BASI Level 4 instructor was a turning point for me – this is a real career with a real salary! It almost seems too good to be true – I get to do a job I love, and can make a life for myself. I couldn’t be luckier.
9) Freedom to have adventures in the summer
Some instructors teach all year round, heading down south to work in Australia and New Zealand. I am a mountain-biker so I like to spend my summers in the Scottish Highlands making the most of the hills and fresh air. In the past I’ve spent summers in France, leading cycle tours, and many friends have gone travelling. You meet so many people in the Alps that you end up with loads of opportunities for adventures in the summer. You never know where life might take you next.
10) The social scene
The alpine community is very close – you are unlikely to spend a day without bumping into a friend or being invited somewhere after work! It’s really nice to wind down at aprés with your mates or even sometimes clients. There is so much going on too – band nights, torchlit descents, meals out etc. One of the best nights last year was when we all gathered together watch Dave Ryding smash the slalom race in Austria. Great memories and great people.
I could go on – there are plenty more great benefits of working and living in the mountains. Everyone has their own reasons for being here, but these are mine. I wouldn’t change it for the world.