Written by New Generation Instructor Courses
Ellis Brigham has sponsored New Generation Ski School for many years. This year they were kind enough to send an invite for a New Generation Ski instructor to come along to their end of season ski test of their 2015-16 winter ski collection. I (Gareth Shelbourne) was the lucky instructor selected by New Generation to attend this year. I am a BASI level 4 ski instructor and I work as part of the Courchevel 1650 team as a full time instructor. I am also involved with the Residential BASI 1 & 2 ski instructor training programs that New Generation provides in Courchevel and in Snowdomes across the UK.
The ski test was held in Austria at the Hintertux Glacier. Only a 1hr 30min transfer from Innsbruck airport or a 2hours 30mins transfer from Munich, Hintertux is a well-connected glacier and a fantastic area to ski during the pre and post seasons. The Glacier itself offers fantastic snow conditions at this time of the year; in fact it is absolutely dumping it down as I type this blog. My view outside is of a very wintery scene indeed being that it is 1st May tomorrow. Yesterday was one of the best powder days I have had at this time of the season.
The runs up on the glacier are extensive and range from blues to blacks and would be a great choice for intermediate – advanced skiers, lots of fun terrain available with very little queuing. Perhaps this is reason why BASI have used Hintertux as its venue for their springtime courses for many years. But don’t tell everyone! On the subject of BASI exams, it was fantastic to see lots of New Generation trainees doing their BASI level 3 and 4 exams out here. Many of the Ellis Brigham staff mentioned to me how impressive it was to see so many trainees on BASI exams skiing at such a high level, I might be bias but many of the strongest performers were from the New Generation instructor training program. This is a testament to the hard work and professionalism that is being implemented across our instructor-training program in all resorts by trainers and more importantly trainees alike, top work team.
The 3 day test was also an excellent chance for me to learn from the Ellis Brigham staff on the ski design and construction of their 2015-16 winter season collection. From my time with the Ellis Brigham staff I have been left struck by how passionate they all are about skiing and how indepth their knowledge of their collection is. I do feel somewhat of a connection with them, after all as my first job was working at Ellis Brigham Chester at weekends when I was 15 years old. It is to their credit that I would not hesitate in recommending them to any of my clients that are looking for snowsports equipment for next season. They seem to want to put the needs of the skier first over the sale, which in today’s tough economic times is very refreshing.
The task set to me this week on the ski test was to help Ellis Brigham staff in giving a instructors perspective on their 2015-16 ski collection, running short clinics on technique to help improve Ellis Brigham’s staff technical understanding of skiing technique and finding a ski from their collection that we as a ski school can recommend for our BASI level 1-2 trainee ski instructors. In the past our team of trainers have experienced a few problems with trainees turning up on our courses with the wrong equipment. Others are simply unsure as to which ski we would recommend them to use. There for this year to simplify things we decided to test a whole bunch of skis and choose one male and female ski that we recommend all of our trainees to use.
From skiing on so many different ski over the past 3 days it has really verified to me how important the correct choice of ski is for the type of skiing you are going to do and more importantly the level of performer that is going to use them. Many big wide rockered powder skis or “all mountain skis” are great fun but the purest in me is of the mind that for people looking to improve their skiing such as our trainee instructors across our whole program I recommend a stiffer narrower higher performance ski that has some racing heritage as the best option. I also believe that it is best to be used in all conditions both piste and off piste. I am of the opinion that this type of ski reinforces good technique as it demands more from the performer in the basics of skiing posture and the skiing ABC’s (agility, balance and coordination). A strong focus in training on these key primary areas can help anyone go a long way with their skiing performance. I always like to focus on posture and balance as a warm up for every session I run no matter what level I am training. There is no point working on other more technical movements if they are coming from the wrong place because of incorrect posture or balance. Warming up to perform is so key, but that is for another blog. That being said it is also important to recognise that some higher performance skis may be too advanced for BASI level 1 -2 trainee entering our training program or indeed any other similar program. That is why the skis we have looked at are within the range of 12-16m radius, rather than 18m plus. This makes the ski more manageable and a good ski for BASI central theme training but with the race heritage construction it also means the skis are stable at higher speeds and demanding of correct technique, which will pay off further down the line.
The skis that we have decided on are the Atomic Cloud 11 ladies ski and the Nordica Doberman Spitfire TI (so good they named it 4 times!!) men’s ski. Important inside advice – If you are happy having last years graphics on your ski then get to the Ellis Brigham site now as they have last years Nordicas with £150 off!
Both skis are an excellent choice for BASI level 1-2 training as they really come into their own on piste. It is on piste that the majority of the examination for the BASI Level 1 and 2 will be held. Both skis perform extremely well in short turns and long turns and might even suit some trainees for BASI level 3 technical training. When looking for a ski for trainees for BASI level 1 and 2 exams performance in short turns and long carving turns on piste are very important areas to consider. History shows that many trainees struggle and indeed can fail due to poor performance in short turns and long carving turns. The narrower width of the these skis and slalom type turn radius allows and indeed demand performers to find good amounts of edge grip more freely and higher up the turn shape than other skis with wider waists. Both skis also hold up well at the speeds trainees will be skiing at for BASI level 1 and 2 long carving turns and even beyond. The racing heritage of both skis is apparent in both of these areas but not so much that it makes them inaccessible at an entry point for trainees. Sizes of skis do really depend on the height and weight of each individual performer, I would recommend each trainee to contact one of our trainers for advice as to the size they should order.
To summarise, after spending 3 days testing Ellis Brighams range of skis for 2015-16, for any BASI level 1-2 instructor training I would recommend a ski more focused to piste and with a racing heritage. A ski that is somewhat accessible to your current technique but also demands more from your skiing to aid your ski performance development for the future. For girls the Atomic Cloud 11 and for boys Nordica Doberman Spitfire TI(so good they named it 4 times), do all the heavy lifting on these skis and save the big fat skis for those rare one-off big powder days.