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The Instructor

In this article we discuss the importance of the ski or snowboard instructor in your quest of becoming the master of the slopes.

Many people are hooked up to skiing and snowboarding by their friends. And these are the same friends who offer to help you out with making your first steps into the winter sports. We surely introduced skiing and snowboarding to many of our friends soon after we felt that we are the kings of the mountain, long before getting our instructor licenses.

But there is a problem here. You can be an excellent skier and snowboarder, shredding the powder in extreme conditions and heli skiing or boarding around the world. But this does not mean that you can teach other people or be good at it. And we learnt it ourselves during the courses and exams we had to take before getting our instructor certificates.

There are many things that you need to learn and build a specific competencies in order to become an instructor. Because skiing and snowboarding is not just going down the slopes. You need to learn and learn good how to fall the ‘right way’ in order to avoid more serious injuries, how to explain and transfer the information and the knowledge you accumulated to your students in the most effective way so that they can hit the slopes with confidence and built skills. And many more things that require serious preparation such as knowledge of avalanche dangers and what to do in case it is activated and one of the most important things – providing first aid to other people.

Another key argument for being cautious to accept the otherwise great and cheap of your friends to teach you how to ski or snowboard is that being a beginner – you do not really know whether they do it well and are actually a good skier/snowboarders. Yeah, they can dive into the powder and show you pictures of breathtaking jumps from a rock, but this again does not mean they have the right body posture or lean in the right moment. When we think about how many friends we trained before passing our instructor certifications and how many incorrect things we taught them or just missed important points, well – you get the point. And we did jump from some breath taking cliffs and rode with more than 120 km/hour even before. But going through the courses and learning all important items that we missed helped us grow our skills and most importantly – turn our attitude to really becoming instructors who know how to take care of their students, how to approach each of them individually and deliver them a professional service that will ultimately save them time and money.

And this is the key point – learning by yourselves or getting advices by your friends actually would cost you more time and more money. We encountered so many cases of people who are struggling to make a good turn even after a couple of years of ‘personal’ training and learning by themselves or by some friends. And in the end they either quit because of their accumulated frustration that nothing happens after so much time or just waste their time and money for lift passes and equipment to fall on the tracks rather than enjoy a decent ride.

Once we’ve agreed about the role of the instructor, you have another choice to make – go for individual lessons with personal instructor or sign up for group lessons with other people on the same level. Here it is really up to you as there are 2 main factors that may shape your decision:

  • Individual lessons are way more expensive. And this is more than normal – after all you get all the attention of the instructor and the result is that you learn much quicker. Hence you need to decide whether you want to invest more money in order to accelerate your skiing or snowboarding mastery or take it slightly easier at the expense of investing more time. This is entirely personal as some people are quick learners or just ‘have it inside’. Therefore even in a group, they would be able to progress very fast and the difference in case they go with individual lessons would not be that big. However for others, individual lessons could be the right way forward as certain people prefer quieter atmosphere and targeted effort.
  • The second factor is pure fun. Learning in a group means that you will be falling a lot on the snow with (quite often) completely unknown people. For some people this may be embarrassing and they may prefer the intimacy of the individual lessons. However for other this may be a source of great amusement watching out the funny postures and bending of their co-students. And yet they still need to remember that in case there is a camera (and there will be in many cases) – they would be doing the same funny postures as well .

To sum up, our advice is to always rely on professional instructors with proven record for your favourite sport (we are saying sport because we believe this is applicable for all types of sports). This would allow you to be able to enjoy skiing or snowboarding much sooner than if you struggle on your own. It would also ensure that your built-up skills are of high quality and hence you will be able to get the most of it even after a few weeks of persistent training.

Ride on and see you at our SnowCamp!