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Your ski instructor shadowing experiences

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
To change the theme a bit from Corona virus and to talk about skiing and instruction for a change I'm interested in what shadowing experiences people have had following ski instructor exams. I think it is largely BASI that do this but maybe other exam bodies do it too?


Here are some old threads for reference:-

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=78896
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=120476
https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=61792
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Both my "kids" (mid and late 20s now) did their instructor qualifications and worked several seasons, all around the world. One to ISIA and one became highly specialised in Adaptive.

My son, at the age of 17, arranged shadowing with the Swiss Ski School in Verbier.
Day 1 he turned up, the instructor said:

"These are your four kids, I meet you back here at 12.30. Bye"

The deep end!

My daughter shadowed NewGen and they did it properly, she went on to work five winter seasons for them.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
No shadowing required in the Austrian system, but the ski school I worked for straight after qualifying had me shadow on my first day (I was paid for it), and then due to bookings I ended up with a group on my second day (was given to me over the other newly qualified as I had done some teaching before). With the same ski school I also had the opportunity to 'shadow' some snowboard lessons, the boss would stick a second instructor on some of the beginner groups some days if there were some people struggling. Again, got paid for it. There was regular instructor training too, not just with the performance side of skiing, but also with teaching skills/demos/drills.
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rungsp wrote:

Day 1 he turned up, the instructor said:

"These are your four kids, I meet you back here at 12.30. Bye"

The deep end!



Yes not really the right approach but if it worked out ok. Kids tend to be less demanding than adults but sometimes hard to manage and occupy. My experience was with groups of school kids about 8 to 10 and you could end up with a lot of fights.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I started the BASI system relatively late (mid forties).

After BASI 1 in a snow dome I completed the 35 hours on dry slopes in the north east, from memory mostly beginners and school groups. Generally in these sessions you would get actively involved, initially, helping pick people up, skis back on, getting on and off lifts, offering simple advice and encouragement. Gradually I started to get more actively involved in instructing and towards the end leading sessions. This gets you your full BASI 1 and qualification to teach on artificial surfaces. At this stage I didn't feel particularly confident in my ability to deliver a good lesson. I don't think a 5 day course, involving from memory 1 teaching session, and a few days shadowing is enough. You need to record and log all the experience.

Prior to BASI 2 I needed another 35 hours which included a mix of dry slope shadowing and teaching, shadowing at a snow dome and helping out at a local club night (dry slope) which involved higher level skiers. I also did a course in Tignes with a BASI trainer which BASI accepted as counting towards the 35 hours. This gets you on to the BASI 2 course which is a fairly even mix of performance skiing and teaching sessions and trying to link the 2. Although BASI 2 is generally not considered a high level qualification the course itself is quite demanding in that it covers a lot of content which some find stressful particularly if your skiing standard is borderline 'at the level'.

After BASI 2 no more shadowing required to continue up the instructor ladder, although if you decide to get into coaching, for example, you will need a further qualification like BASI Coaching award or UKCP for both of which you will be required to undertake logged tasks and work under a more experienced coach to gain experience of course setting etc.
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I initially qualified through SSE. That course is structured a little differently to the BASI one. You do the initial training, then spend some months with a club mentor working on whatever you need to improve, and complete a log book of shadowing other instructors at the club. Then you complete the assessment and (hopefully) become qualified, albeit at L1 so with a quite restricted remit. My club required double the shadowing hours that SSE recommended, and I am very grateful that they did. The instructors I was shadowing all had a different approach to how they'd include me in their lessons but each took the role very seriously and it wasn't a "thank god you're here, stand at the bottom and pick up the little kids when they fall" exercise. I've tried to carry that forwards.

As I was already licensed to teach when I took BASI's initial qualifications I could use that licence to do teaching hours rather than shadowing.

As others have mentioned, higher qualifications rarely need shadowing to complete them, it is more often teaching experience you need to demonstrate and have signed off. I still take the opportunity to shadow whenever I can though. Once of the advantages of working at Hemel is that as there are many lessons running in close proximity you can usually pick up many tips and tricks just by keeping an eye on what's going on around you and picking the other instructor's brains afterwards if you see something interesting.

When moving between clubs or slopes or ski schools I'd expect to need to do some initial shadowing to learn how they deliver their products.

I also recently got the opportunity to shadow the delivery of some L3 coaching courses. This was particularly interesting as it was at a slope I don't work at so got to see a different perspective on how things are organised there.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
IASI operate a similar structure to BASI with 70 hours experience needed before taking level 2, of which a minimum of 20 must be actual teaching - so up to 50 could be as shadowing.
I did mine at Hemel and generally assisted the paid instructor with the bigger groups. As time went on and I got to know the instructors, I took groups from within those classes to teach by myself. I have come into this with little teaching experience generally so was happy to maximise the shadowing to get whatever tips I could from the regular instructors.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I did most of my L1 shadowing hours at Swadlincote dryslope. Structure was slightly different back then in that it was 70hrs between L1 and L2, whereas now I think you need to do the course + 35hrs shadowing to be awarded L1, then do another 35h before L2.

Given I already had Basi 1, they were happy for me to teach on my own, so I did mostly paid teaching (although often with 2 instructors for big groups) and a little shadowing to make sure I had enough hours.

Subsequent hours for Level 3 were mostly with Interski in Italy.
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Ok to give my own feedback. I did the BASI 1 Nordic this winter. It is a strictly "on snow" course. I'm a good all mountain downhill skier and not too bad at nordic being in the so called "elite" adult group with the local ski club and I've done racing both on snow and tarmac with rollerskis. Just to note that the "elite" adults are where the club 12 to 14 year olds are technically, more or less.

What I lacked was a huge amount of time classic skiing.

Well to talk briefly about the course. As ever there is a gap between recreational skiing and what instructors are expected to be able to demonstrate and as others have said sometimes less prior experience is more. The course was very demanding as you are supposed to be able to demonstrate skate and classic skiing to the correct technical level and sometimes you feel you are going backwards. My technique improved quite a bit over the 5 days but I would need to improve further for the L2, at least I have a clearer picture about what needs improving. I would almost certainly have to do so some specific lessons.

Anyway having passed the 5 day course I arranged shadowing with my local French ski school. I pretty much did 35 hours on snow with classes, a mix of school, children and adults in small and large groups. I also did a couple of sessions biathlon but with compressed air weapons, as I've done some long rifle stuff this was quite interesting. I did most of the shadowing with the the director, a young lady but also some with a couple of other instructors who were much more relaxed about me instructing than the director. However she was very good at explaining her lesson plan.

35 hours is both a lot and not much. If you only have w'ends it takes quite a long time to fit all this in but you could easily get 35 hours in during a week if you had the time and motivation. The French ski school were puzzled by the whole process but in general a trainee ski instructor will already have been through the club system and already have the technical level and the training process is trying to turn an excellent skier into a ski instructor. Even in Nordic they have a test de capacite as an entrance requirement - basically skiing around a timed course while there is a technical observation and you have to demonstrate all the techniques to the required level; after that they can work as a trainee in a ski school and would probably be working independently from day 1 giving their previous experience. Working with a French school was interesting, we had Canadian and English students on occasion.

I've yet to do / renew my first aid, everything came to a halt with Covid-19 in March.
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rungsp wrote:


My son, at the age of 17, arranged shadowing with the Swiss Ski School in Verbier.
Day 1 he turned up, the instructor said:

"These are your four kids, I meet you back here at 12.30. Bye"

The deep end!.


Smart kid, responsible and great skier. I’m sure he nailed it. obviously it’s not shadowing but I wonder if the Swiss expect just expect that? I mean the kids are expected to get the bus to school on their own at the age of 5. Our non Swiss family was horrified when they found out!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
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@BobinCH, I stopped a taxi in the middle of zurich the first time I went there - thinking the child was lost! Taxi driver thought I was mental
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@davidof, BASI are giving an extension on first aid renewal for now. I need to do mine (and my CPD, but I can get away with doing an on-line CPD course if it comes to it).
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
I qualified with the Austrian system and went to work in Japan, I never got the chance or needed to shadow a lesson. There were a few others who were newly qualified who did get to shadow but due to high demand at the start of the season, most of us were thrown in the deep end. I've actually set up a website for sharing experiences as ski instructors here : www.skiinstructordiaries.com and have an article about my first lesson here : www.skiinstructordiaries.com/articles/my-first-lesson .

I think I would have benefitted a bit from shadowing but I found it okay in the end. I was nervous but still capable. My friends in Austria who were also austrian qualified also never shadowed.
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