Beyond BASI Level 2 was definitely entering into the more serious end of things, to achieve your BASI Level 3 – I.S.I.A (International Ski Instructor Association) – I had to complete 9 different modules in order to be recognised by the ISIA. To give you a brief overview these were as follows;
- 200 hours teaching experience
- BASI Level 3 Teaching Module (5 days)
- BASI Level 3 Technical Module (10 days)
- BASI Level 3 Mountain Safety (6 days)
- 2nd Language
- 2nd Discipline (I chose Telemarking)
- Race Coach Level 1 (3 days)
- Race Coach Level 2 (4 days)
- Physiology of the body
Obviously this is quite an undertaking and I was very aware that the technical jump from Level 2 to Level 3 was fairly substantial – I would need to really develop my technical knowledge and skiing to be firing on all cylinders. My Level 2 experience had been very enjoyable as I had trained and put the time and effort in so that I was skiing at the required level.
I spent the next few seasons training and teaching. In 2007 – I started working with the ESS (Ecole de Ski Suisse) in Champoussin, a challenging but fantastic experience with large groups made up of a number of nationalities. Luckily my fluent French came in very handy and I picked up a number of Dutch words as well.
This was a great opportunity to teach in a resort I had holidayed in with my
family in 2000 – and also a great opportunity to really explore the Swiss side
of the Portes Du Soleil. I continued to work for the ESS until 2015 working in both Les Crosets & Champoussin. A great apprenticeship! Plus on those calm sunny days, I had one of the best commutes around; a telecabine, 2 chairflifts & some great skiing!
Summer 2008 found me planning a very big & special event – our wedding! As ever I was relishing the organisational role and it was a fabulous & extraordinary wedding. (Not that I am biased).
At the same time, however, I was becoming quite ill (most noticeably from April onwards). The doctors were not being very speedy at diagnosing and so by November when I finally had a diagnosis of UC (Ulcerative Colitis – similar to Crohns disease) it had come a little late and I was hospitalised for 3 weeks at the end of November. UC has become a little better known with other famous sportsmen coming forward having been diagnosed; Sir Steve Redgrave & Darren Fletcher (Man U & Scotland footballer).
Obviously it was a big shock, it was not really part of my Level 3 plan
particularly as I had 2 exams booked in January (Level 3 Teach & Technical). – The doctor at first wasn’t happy at me travelling out to the mountains and to Morzine but we managed to convince him. I was still very weak and ill and travelling was tricky, but we made it! The main objective was to get myself well enough to do my BASI Level 3 teach – I had decided to postpone the technical till the end of the season.
January arrived and slowly but surely I was rebuilding strength, my pill dosage was down from 18 a day to a mere 6. I was on the up! My Level 3 Teaching course started in Morzine and I was the only girl of the group (not an uncommon occurrence in those days) – it was an intensive course but enjoyable, despite it being an uncommonly cold week. Becci Malthouse, the BASI Trainer was great at keeping the reviews to the sunny spots and great to have some female company & encouragement on the course. The result was a positive one and the group again were very friendly and am still in touch with a few of the guys. Great: 1 down, 8 to go…..
So down to business – training & teaching as much as possible – my sights were set on Zermatt at the end of the season. A 2 week course – 8 days of continual assessment & showing what you are made of. Unfortunately I was still on fairly strong medication but I wouldn’t let this deter me. My Level 3 tech group was fantastic and I made some wonderful friends. It was a hard but great 2 weeks of skiing; we had everything, fresh powder, wind blown slab, icy, mogul rut lines & sun and I finished with a positive result, high scores & a pass. A number of the group have now finished their Level 4 or are very close to doing so; Clare, Craig, Gregor & James! What a group ;).
By the end of that winter (at the beginning of 2009), I felt really positive. I had passed what were arguably the two hardest modules of the BASI Level 3 despite my continued ill health.
In the summer of 2009 I was offered a ‘proper’ job as a Product Manager for VisitScotland. I jumped at the chance to get some professional experience behind me and went on to work on national marketing campaigns and meet some fantastic people.
During this time, my dream to become a Fully Qualified Ski Instructor was still alive and I used all my holidays to do BASI courses, including BASI Level 3 Mountain Safety in Chamonix and Common Theory in Aviemore.
Everything was going in the right direction but in May/June 2010, unfortunately I suffered a bad flare-up of my UC, which was continuing to get worse. The drugs were not helping at all and in July I was so ill that I was hospitalised.
It was a lot more serious this time and the doctors were unable to stabilise me. They were worried that my large intestine was going to rupture and so I had to go in for emergency surgery, where they removed the whole of my large intestine. This was replaced by a colostomy bag, a big shock for a 27 year old.
It was a very difficult time, I had trouble walking and the psychological impact of having a colostomy bag was very tough. I was resilient, stayed positive and looked to get as fit and strong as I could.
It was (or felt like) a slow process but I really worked to regain my strength and I was back skiing by December which was a major achievement given the extent of the surgery I went through the summer before. Determined to get back to my skiing level that I had achieved by the previous season I trained hard when I was out in resort. I was readmitted to hospital for a week during the season however I was getting stronger and I was determined that my health wouldn’t stop me achieving my dream. By the end of the season I was ready to tackle Race Coach Level 1 & 2 – this was a daunting prospect with a Stoma Bag, which had fondly become known as ‘Stomarella’. She sometimes behaved herself but could be fairly unpredictable! During the course, I was extremely conscious of it and so didn’t eat much throughout the day. To add to my list of ailments I also managed to crack two ribs a day into the second course. I grinned and bore it even through setting gates, carrying drills and doing one legged exercises. All in all a fairly emotional course but a successful one! So I was 8 modules down of the 9 even though I was missing my colon!
The operation and whole experience had really made me think……what did I really want to achieve in life….seize the moment, life is too short!