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Ski instructor course - am I good enough?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So I'm booked on for a 12-week ski instructor course in Canada starting this January and although I'm super excited, the closer I get to it the more nervous I get that I'm not going to be good enough!

I haven't skied a lot really. Have 2 weeks (spread over 2 years) of skiing under my belt but had private lessons for both of them. The second time I went I started quite nervous and didn't really want to leave green slopes or snowplough, but as the week went on and changed instructor to someone I really liked, I started to make tons of improvements. For the last 3-4 days of the trip, I was doing parallel (albeit not the best parallel) pretty consistently down all European red slopes. I really felt fine to tackle any red and didn't need to stop at all. I didn't tackle any black runs but my instructor said he would have taken me on some if conditions were better (the end of the week saw a lot of sun and not much snow so slopes were very icy). I'm definitely not the fastest or the most graceful and I know this comes with practice, but I am a fast learner and very passionate about skiing! My worry is that I get out there without having skied for 2 years because of covid and realise I've forgotten all the progress I made and lost the confidence I gained last time. I also hate the idea of being the worst there or being told I just can't do it! Am really just looking for some reassurance that although I have little experience I am capable. If anyone on here has done an instructor course having had little experience before going, would love to hear your experience or just any general opinions!!

Super excited to go just hoping I can keep up! Little Angel
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The answer is I haven't a clue but I'd be surprised Very Happy

Exactly what course is it and what are the prerequisites?


Good luck anyway.
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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?
It seems a bit ridiculous that you could pass or even join an instructor course after only 2 weeks skiing. That probably says more about ski instructing though - imagine starting playing tennis or passing your driving test and 2 weeks later saying you were going to to become an instructor, it's unthinkable.

I think you have your work cut out for you, although CASI level 1 is supposed to be pretty easy so you might be ok. Be aware that most of your classmates are probably quite a bit more experienced and will be heading off piste on free days (and quite a bit of it at fernie or Whistler where I'm guessing you will be based is going to be much too difficult for you right now) so you might miss out on that social part

My advice would probably be to try and switch courses to one focus on improving your own skiing (most of the companies offering the 12 week instructor course also do 12 week all mountain or improver courses). Once you are a bit more competent and experienced then think about an instructor course, after 12 weeks you may even realise you don't actually want to live in the mountains and instruct.
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Depends on the format of the training. My quick look at some of the options seem to suggest 5-6 weeks of training before your Level 1 exams. That is probably enough for someone who is keen and fit. The additional 5 weeks to Level 2 may be a bit more of a challenge but I'm sure your coaches will give you plenty of advice and practice makes perfect. Good luck.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Well that certainly seems a bit keen, but I don't know you and haven't seen you ski so who knows! The thing to remember about instructor courses is that they are courses not just exams, and so long as you meet any advertised prerequisites to attend it is the trainers job to get you to the standard by the end of the course. All you have to do is make the changes they ask you to. 12 weeks of training/skiing is virtually guaranteed to make you a much better skier, regardless of whether you pass the exam or not. My advice is enjoy the training, focus and work hard but don't obsess about the outcome and don't worry if you are playing catchup. Try to go first /behind the trainer when you can rather than last in the group (so you get your breath back and have the best model to copy). Assume that your coursemates will want to support you rather than being impatient with you (generally my experience has been that a good trainer will develop a supportive culture in the group).
Personally I've found it a great release to assume I'm going to fail a course and just concentrate on enjoying the training and getting better (and then suprisingly passing). Don't put yourself under too much pressure!
Remember also that it's likely that others may not have done any teaching either, so there's an opportunity to shine brighter there.
Good luck & enjoy it.
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This has got to be a wind-up!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@ski123, when you booked did the company that is running the course ask how much skiing experience you have, or suggest you sent them some video of your skiing?
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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!
@ski123, Why in the world do you feel you are at the entry point for a professional qualification course after two weeks of skiing?

Although the Canadian L1 course is not hugely technically challenging to an experienced recreational skier it definitely is not an improver course for those with two weeks of skiing under their belts. I am amazed they even accepted you onto the course, did you explain your circumstances and experience to them before booking? If they know your level of experience I would suggest they are just taking your money, perhaps see if the course provider will transfer you into a group for intermediates.

I prepare people for Level 1 exams and the least experienced person I have recommended to was an ex-international athlete who had taken weeks of coaching courses, numerous private lessons and practiced intensely in between. Good luck you may have it in you but don't expect a lot of sympathy from your course mates..

@boarder2020, agreed...
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Oh it doesnt matter, youve paid.
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@ski123,
Time will tell. But you'll have to be physically very fit right from day one. With only 2 weeks skiing, 12 consecutive weeks is going to take it out of you.
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I’ve know skiers who are still beginners after 4 weeks and others that are decent intermediate, bordering on advanced, after a couple of weeks.

If you’re in the latter category then you’ll probably be ok. I suspect you will be the least experienced on the course by some margin, so you’ll be playing catch up, but 12 weeks of skiing is enough to make anyone good.
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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.
It'll probably be fine - Whistler puts dozens of never ever young Aussies through L1 in order to teach never ever kids. On the plus side you are unlikely to have many ingrained bad habits to iron out.
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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
Are you taking the p***??

My daughter and her husband were booked to go on a ski instructors course in Canada but sadly she had to abandon those plans after she ruptured her ACL playing netball three weeks before leaving. This course asked for all sorts of info about their competency and also wanted multi discipline assurances.
My daughter was/is an expert skier, who can board well and her husband is an expert boarder who can ski to high intermediate level.
I am sorry to be a stick in the mud, but you should be expert to teach people something as perilous as skiing.
I am an RFU level 3 rugby coach (who has now retired as even with that I am becoming a dinosaur) with a first class playing history from the 80s and 90s. It took me ages to assimilate experience to coach at the highest levels.
I feel kind of cheated that someone with less experience than me as a skier could take a lesson - it is all a bit sh*t

But I wish you well and I hope you achieve your dreams


Last edited by 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 on Wed 10-11-21 18:31; edited 1 time in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
boarder2020 wrote:
imagine starting playing tennis or passing your driving test and 2 weeks later saying you were going to to become an instructor, it's unthinkable.


It's actually even crazier. Effectively it's someone saying that they've had about 36 hours of driving lessons...then a year later they did another 36 hours. Then 2 years later they're going to be an instructor Laughing
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I'd say it probably takes more than one post to take someone seriously.
There's an old joke about how long it takes to become a snowboarding instructor; I guess that's this.

Timmycb5 wrote:
I’ve know skiers who are [...] bordering on advanced, after a couple of weeks. ... but 12 weeks of skiing is enough to make anyone good.
If you use terms like "advanced" or, "good" to describe people with that sort of experience then we certainly mean different things by the terms.

I've built booking systems where skiers are required to specify their own ability level, and most who can't actually ski [off piste powder] do describe themselves as "advanced", so it's not just you. The vast majority of skiers at resorts aren't "advanced", although some of them have significantly more experience of "being intermediate" than your "good" people.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@philwig, quite. 4 weeks and you are maybe "aspiring beginner".
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
philwig wrote:
I'd say it probably takes more than one post to take someone seriously.
There's an old joke about how long it takes to become a snowboarding instructor; I guess that's this.

Timmycb5 wrote:
I’ve know skiers who are [...] bordering on advanced, after a couple of weeks. ... but 12 weeks of skiing is enough to make anyone good.
If you use terms like "advanced" or, "good" to describe people with that sort of experience then we certainly mean different things by the terms.

I've built booking systems where skiers are required to specify their own ability level, and most who can't actually ski [off piste powder] do describe themselves as "advanced", so it's not just you. The vast majority of skiers at resorts aren't "advanced", although some of them have significantly more experience of "being intermediate" than your "good" people.


Again, it's a ski thing that would be laughed at for any other sport. "I play tennis one or two weeks per year for the last 10 years, I consider myself advanced...". I agree that most people's ideas of what is "advanced" is pathetically low, although that's the problem with using a subjective term. As for people judging their own ability IME men overestimate and women underestimate.
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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?
@ski123, Why don't you ask the course provider?
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@ski123, honestly... with twelve weeks of solid training you probably could/should be able to pass a level 1 test (which lets be honest barely gets beyond snowploughing properly) if you're fairly athletic. BUT the rest of the group will probably be skiing to a decently higher standard and you may struggle to keep up - especially as no doubt they will want to be skiing powder and off-piste much of the time. I did a 4 week course (years back now!), and I think everyone had between 15/20 weeks of skiing up to multiple seasons. IE not even needing to think before skiing a black slope, though some didn't have much experience off-piste.

You'll probably have a great time and guaranteed to learn a lot, but you're definitely throwing yourself in at the deep end! A bit of advice: don't just follow everyone else into every slope and hope to try to keep up, as that will just end up in people waiting for you while you get tired stressed and depressed. If something is clearly above your level, just say you'll ski round and meet them at the lift. Hopefully within a couple of weeks you'll be able to more safely try everything the group does.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Think I was probably 4 weeks + inside out instructors course before I became an instructor, little over a year from putting skis on first time to instructing.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
It'll probably be fine - Whistler puts dozens of never ever young Aussies through L1 in order to teach never ever kids. On the plus side you are unlikely to have many ingrained bad habits to iron out.


Not entirely sure that's true.
I thought you needed to be level 2 to teach anything at Whistler - they have a pretty large supply of very good skiers.
Friends kids teach never ever groups there and they previously taught on local mountains first where they got their certs and have done a ton of season long programs and race training.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Wed 10-11-21 21:52; edited 1 time in total
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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@clarky999,

indeed.
MrsH did a level 1 course at Whistler many years ago (just the CSIA cert course, and just out of interest rather than wanting to be an instructor). She's a good skier and this was after a lot of previous skiing/coaching and at the backend of a season. Some of the skiing exercises still weren't that easy - its not just that you can ski a snowplough or stem turn, but that you can teach someone to do a snowplough or stem turn
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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!
Quote:

This has got to be a wind-up!


Agreed. Surely you need to be competent at a skill before being about to teach it. Or at the very least have a clear technical knowledge.

Many golf coaches are not the best players - but that may be just down to the pressure of playing on tour for cash vs the practice ground.

Suggest you learn how to ski first…
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
At least it will be all fresh in your mind about not being able to ski.

Its an industry in Canada, treating wanabees to a course to become an instructor.
They need young eager skiiers to teach children and know how to say please and thank you.

The course will not be to turn you into a top gun skier, it does not have to.
But it will try to teach you how to teach beginers the rudimentary stuff.
It will also teach you how talk to parents of young ski students.

You'll enjoy it.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
You’ll be fine! Enjoy it!
If you aren’t good enough they can usually move you to another course, and you can enjoy that too.
You’ll be in the mountains, and you’ll have fun!
I don’t expect you’ll be teaching Olympic champions when you are done, but they can teach you how to teach beginners.
And Canada is great!
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@stuarth, I'm pretty sure it was true when I did a season there some time ago albeit the ones I knew were young 20 somethings who had come from a surf background etc.
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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.
Nadenoodlee wrote:
Oh it doesnt matter, youve paid.


This post didn’t get the credit it deserved Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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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
@telford_mike, Laughing Laughing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Assuming you are reasonably athletic, you will be fine. I passed my L2 NZ after 12 weeks of skiing (6 before a course, 6 of training), I think I boarded 4 days before doing my SB level 1.

I have now coached a lot of instructor courses and got many inexperienced skiers through level 1 in a 2 week course. 12 weeks is a long time, Ievel 2 in that time is quite possible.

As long as you have been honest with the course provider, they will have made provisions for getting you up to speed.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
On my BASI L1 course we had an "advanced" skier (self-designated) who was a liability to himself and others. It was obvious on day one that he was never going to even come close to the standard, but he was adamant that because he could "get down" black slopes and could go fast he was a very good skier. The coach actually had to dress him down after a run of free skiing, as he was completely out of control at mach 1. Another who struggled was an experienced skier who lived in the alps, who by his own admission was self-taught, and who had been convinced by others that the L1 course was really easy and he would walk it. I sympathised as I started skiing at 28 when a mate gave me some tips and left me to it. It took years of hard work (and lots of money) to correct the bad habits I had formed and no way would I have made the standard if I had not invested in proper instruction to do so.

Many people massively over-estimate their competence, and low level instructor courses are a great leveller. In fact that is the main reason I started the instructor journey, to improve my own skiing but also to have some well-defined milestones in my development. The step from L1 to L2 is tough, to my surprise quite a few experienced and to my eye pretty good recreational skiers failed the course. It became clear that those who worked hard on the fundamentals, had spent time training rather than just skiing, and who were more "coachable" were the ones who succeeded. One of the least experienced was an athlete who was clearly used to being coached, had a very focussed attitude, and was able to adapt quickly. She made more progress than the rest of us put together and easily passed the course.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
zikomo wrote:
On my BASI L1 course we had an "advanced" skier (self-designated) who was a liability to himself and others. It was obvious on day one that he was never going to even come close to the standard, but he was adamant that because he could "get down" black slopes and could go fast he was a very good skier. The coach actually had to dress him down after a run of free skiing, as he was completely out of control at mach 1. Another who struggled was an experienced skier who lived in the alps, who by his own admission was self-taught, and who had been convinced by others that the L1 course was really easy and he would walk it. I sympathised as I started skiing at 28 when a mate gave me some tips and left me to it. It took years of hard work (and lots of money) to correct the bad habits I had formed and no way would I have made the standard if I had not invested in proper instruction to do so.
I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about the entry level instructor qualifications, either assuming they require an extremely high level of skiing ability to pass, or conversely that a Level 1 instructor is going to be qualified to teach experienced and high level recreational skiers. Neither is true. The ability level to pass is not especially high but you do need to ski accurately and consistently, without any of the usual ineffective movements that the vast majority of recreational skiers have no problem accommodating and ski with all the time. You can't rely on speed to mask your faults, you need to have a reasonable technical understanding of how skiing works, you should start to develop you motion analysis skills and have the teaching ability to guide a client from never-ever, through to their first skiddy parallel turns. It wasn't so long ago that the BASI Level 1 instructor course wasn't an assessed qualification, but a Foundation Week designed to introduce the qualification structure, prepare you for the first assessed course and give some accurate feedback on where your skiing was at that time. But with the growth of indoor ski slopes and the existing network of artificial slopes there was, rightly IMV, the need for an introductory qualification which would enable people to introduce newbies to skiing in a controlled environment, as well as an identifiable first step on the qualification ladder.

I think it's perfectly possible to get to Level 1 within 12 weeks from pretty much a standing start. It's also perfectly possible to be miles off the standard and to have a thoroughly miserable and expensive experience. When I did my Level 1 (coincidently the very first that BASI had run, following on from the previous Foundation Week) two people failed and one was a marginal pass. The two people who failed had done a sort of mini Gap Course and just weren't at the standard, the guy who was a marginal pass was an awesome skier, had done some pro freeride skiing but really struggled to ski with the technical accuracy especially when demonstrating the core movement patterns required to teach beginners. For me the most important question for the OP is whether the training company he is using are aware of his inexperience, and are they confident they can provide an appropriate level of coaching during this 12 weeks in whatever group the OP finds himself, for him and for the rest of the group.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I have skied / boarded with lots of instructors both recreationally and in lessons..
These range from a former world cup winning snowboarder to BASI L1 skiing.
The thing which stands out to me is that the people who did the Canadian and NZ snowboard courses were not amazing boarders, but they were good teachers. They had empathy, understanding, knowledge, helpful drills etc.. I've never had a lesson from a BASI L1 but skied with a dozen or so. TBH most weren't very good when we went into the forest, or the ice, or the bumps, or the park but were reasonable if not fast piste skiers. But they could all talk a good ski run in the bar, so they must have learned some theory along the way.
The contrast were some ESF types, who were amazing skiers, but whose pedagogue was "follow me" and then hoon off down the hill showing how good they are (although one of them did get upset when beaten in the gates at the end of the week). The ESS guys I skied with had a bit of both, good skiers and good teachers.
Teaching and skiing are different skills, and instructors need a bit of both, but some have lot more of one than the other.
I know it's clichéd but George Bernard Shaw was very perceptive with his observation about "Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach."
I am not saying that all ski-instructors are not good skiers, but certainly you do not need to be an amazing skier to enter the process and get the first qualifications.
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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?
@rob@rar, Could not agree more! I do remember that on the L1 course the hardest part for me was demonstrating snow plough in the right way, especially being able to be accurate and have the right posture and movements. One of the proudest moments of my life when I nailed it! Although I did not really intend to become an instructor rather just wanting to advance as a skier, and also ensure I did not instil any bad habits in my kids, I have subsequently done a few weeks in high season helping out some friends who run a ski school. As I am somewhat mature (i.e. older!) I was originally mostly given the classic scenario of middle aged lady who is actually a very good skier but expresses a lack of confidence on steeper/icy/variable terrain. I enjoyed that but quickly realised that teaching adult beginners was what I enjoyed the most. That time spent nailing the plough turn has stood me in good stead!

In short, I have found the BASI system excellent at teaching me how to teach others. And it is that aspect rather than the original goal of developing my own skiing that came to the fore for me.

I agree that most reasonably athletic and coachable individuals could easily pass L1 after 12 weeks (good) training. And some exceptional athletes might manage L2. But most people need some time to consolidate between the two. And it is easy to forget that the teaching assessment is challenging for some not used to being structured in their approach or learning new concepts.
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@WindOfChange, I agree. The BASI system in my view is really good at producing good teachers. Form the get-go I have found that is the focus of the system and it is all the better for it. You do not have to be the best skier in the world to teach to an intermediate level. In fact I think I am a better teacher because I have struggled (and still struggle) with my own skiing!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@zikomo,
I think you are right, MrsH reckons getting to level 2 is likely a goal of a 12 week course.

I think however the bigger question is whether the course is set up to take beginner's and turn them into instructors - if so and that is the level of the group then all good, so as pointed out above, a question for the company running the course.

If mismatched then that's a bit more of a problem. When I did my level one CAA course early in my skiing journey, I thought it was good to know avi stuff before doing much off-piste, Everyone else in the group seemed to be touring and off piste experts (relative to me) and so the skiing part mightily sucked for me and probably the rest of the group who had to wait for me!

On the other hand, as also noted above there are a ton of people who turn up in Whistler every year for the season having not skied much, and they seem to do just fine.

Just a note, there are no red runs and not really all that many black runs in the European sense at Whistler, they tend to be more a black area, so take it easy until you get it figured out because being able to get down a black run in Europe is not necessarily the same thing! Madeye-Smiley There are also lots of double blacks, these tend to have consequences.
Good thing with Whistler is even if you are skiing with better skiers who want to do something crazier, there is usually a mellow way round.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Thu 11-11-21 9:21; edited 5 times in total
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
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Oh and its been cold and _very_ wet the last few weeks - big dump to the bottom of Whistler mountain yesterday! snowHead snowHead snowHead
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
The most important things are
1) does the course provider know you’ve skied 2 weeks and that’s it, if so then that’s fine
2) your attitude and ability to make changes
3) make sure you are fit and well before you go so you aren’t then wasting time getting fit. Arrive fit and the rest will come, as long as you listen. Good luck.!
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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!
When I did some cross-country skiing I realised for the first time just how poor my snow-plough technique was! I recall a British instructor who works in the Alps telling me of a very experienced skier who just couldn't "get it" - they were both Snowheads but it was quite a long time ago!!

Welcome to Snowheads, @ski123. snowHead You will be a better skier after 12 weeks than I am after more than half a century. And it will cost you a lot less, too. wink


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Thu 11-11-21 10:39; edited 1 time in total
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@ski123, When we did our CSIA level 1 (in Andorra) there were a three inexperienced skiers on the course. It was obvious from the start that they would struggle, and they they all failed. However - this was a one week course/assessment so while you could learn new skills, there wasn't time to practice and refine them. If you are on a twelve week course there will be plenty of time to get up to CSIA level 1 standard, and if you have the aptitude you have a decent chance of achieving level 2. Remember it not all personal skiing, but instructing and demonstrating. Many people who have skied for years struggle with these elements - a twenty-five year old who learned to ski at age 4 often has no clue about demonstrating snowplough or plough parallel, and it these elements that are most important.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
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If this post isn't a wind up (seems to me like it is) it seems very naiive. Assuming you can get a refund maybe those 12 weeks could be better spent being a skibum in some suitably large high altitude european destination, gaining experience and physical conditioning and hopefully becoming a very skilled skier on piste, off piste, moguls, black runs, ice, plus learning about glacier travel safety (seracs/crevasses/bergshrunds/rope rescue), avalanche and transceiver training and anything else before heading off to undertake ski instructor training the following year.

I looked into instruction via BASI some time ago, didn't follow through but remember reading the required standards and one that stuck in the mind required the skier to be able to ski the fall line under complete control on a steep pitch - I would suggest 2 weeks skiing wil not get you near that level even if you have managed basic parallel turns you will be swinging across slope and not straight down. Surprised if Canadian equivalent would not ask for something similar. If not you'd have to wonder is this course provider just taking easy money.

I could not give any reassurance to OP on it being a good plan at this stage I'm afraid. Sad
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