HOLY MOTHERFUCKING SHIT ! This was the last though I had before tomahawking down the mountain face, to then end up in a bundle at the bottom debating whether my life had come to an end or not. It took me about 3 minutes to realise that no, I was not dead and in actual fact I was still fully functional! Standing up I screamed to my group with thumbs up "I'm all good", to then be met with a face full of snow from my alpine course examiner. Now I don't know about you, but after falling 100 feet the last thing I wanted or expected was a giant snowball in my face, but due to the amount of adrenalin running through me I'd failed to notice that my face was covered in blood.
It may sound crazy, but this was actually the life I'd fallen in love with! My dream to become a Ski Instructor started at the shit end of the ladder. I spent 2 years working for companies getting paid a pittance of €300 a month, which only just about covered the unavoidable alcohol addiction you gain when becoming a seasonnaire. As great as my seasons were under these companies, It wasn't enough money to be able to save, and I had barely any mountain time. Working in childcare is a ball ache and meant if I was lucky I got time for a shower twice a week. YES! Twice a week! When you start at 8 and finish at 11, but live 45 minutes away you can imagine what a pain in the arse this becomes.
I did, however, meet my good friends Jac, Adam and Sam who told me basically everything I needed to know to be an Instructor as they were all working for the Ski School in St Anton. I'd previously looked at applying through BASI, but the facts are that you spend a fortune to get level 1 and 2, and at the end of it you can only teach on a dry slope and the likeliness of another country accepting you is slim as they require a second language. CSIA, APSI and PSIA are better, as they actually have mountains unlike the UK, but then you still have the problem of not having a second language and some of these require a years experience before teaching. So I followed the advice of 2 Welshmen and a Yorkshire lad (sometimes you've got to have a little faith) and applied through the Austrian system (OSSV). This is where things get a little complicated. Instead of using levels, Austrians use complicated words that involve ä's and ü's so don't be alarmed if you can't pronounce it but here they are
Anwärter - high level 1 allowing you to teach on the slopes
Landes 1 - level 2
Landes 2 - level 3 and when combined with alpine course - ISIA stamp
Staatlich - level 4 - ISIA card
Ski führer - level 5 can open own ski school when combined with business course
Now even though these qualifications mean you get to teach on the slopes quicker there are some things I should probably inform you.
1. To start with, the whole thing is in German! But don't worry there are some great companies that give you a helping hand and provide you with the information you need to pass exams.
2. It comes at a cost...Some people think it's crazy spending thousands on a qualification to ski but you earn back what you put in to it by the end of your first season, and think about it, would you rather be scrubbing a chalet toilet all day or out on the mountain teaching
3.Its fucking hard work! The exam alone is 10 days and after skiing from 9-3 you then have to sit in a lecture for 4 hours whilst the examiners drivel on about something you no is important but can't for the hell of you understand what they are saying
4. It's all worth it in the end. Come exam day you will be the most stressed you have ever been in your life but once the day is over, the chance is you will end up in the bar with the new friends you've made... and that will be the beginning to how you will spend the rest of your season.
So now you no what its about, next comes the question, how do I do it?
There are a few different companies that can assist you with this, but some are considerabley better than others! My advice is to go through Ski Instructor Accedemy. They are based in Kaprun, Austria and run by a couple of guys and their team of high quality trainers. SIA offers amazing training both in German and Skiing at a higher standard than any other companies on the market. They ensure you get a course enatailed to your needs, providing a high quality service to their clients on both the practical and theory side. Not only that but SIA are there to help you all the way through to Staatlich and have strong ties with Ski Schools all over the world. Check them out at www.siaaustria.com
watch our 2015 season edit made by my good friend max