Becoming a Fully Qualified Ski Instructor – the beginning
Written by Helena McClintock
My love affair with skiing started in the Scottish hills & glens, notably Glenshee, I was lucky enough as a little girl to be introduced to this wonderful sport. My pops, big sister Katherine & I would venture up every weekend first thing, eagerly awaiting the opening of the snow gates. I fell in love with skiing, and very little would deter me, wind, rain, ice, moguls and occasionally sunshine – all in a day in Scotland.
After my first ski holiday to Morgins (the Swiss side of the Portes du Soleil), at 11years old – I had my heart set on becoming a ski instructor – however my head over ruled my heart when it came to the crunch. At 17, I had just finished school and realised that getting a degree under my belt would be more sensible than heading to the snowy mountains.
Fortunately part of my degree in International Business & Modern Languages took me to the French Business School (Ecole Superieure de Commerce) in Chambery (I think I was the only one that requested that Business School – being the closest to the Alpes). I took full advantage of being in Chambery, immersing myself in the french way of life and spending my weekends & holidays in Courchevel in the 3 vallees where my big sister was working. In 2003, I began on my BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors) journey and completed my BASI Level 1 – as was Trainee Instructor in those days with John Hendry in Courchevel. I was hooked and as soon as I graduated I looked for a job in a ski resort that would allow me to continue on the pathway to my Ski Instructor dream.
Morzine was calling and off I went to work for BASS (British Alpine Ski School) Morzine, where I managed the office and the bookings and of course continued my training and completed my BASI Level 2. I had the fortunate position to be able to train with BASS throughout the season to prepare myself fully with shadowing and training for my Level 2 with Hugh Monney – a wonderful experience, with a great bunch of skiers, many of whom are still around running Chalets (Mrski) and also a transfer company (Skiidygonzales) in resort .
It was a great environment – I was surrounded by the highest qualified Instructors around, inspirational skiers and ski teachers, I knew I wanted to carry on the journey and become a Fully Qualified British Instructor (BASI Level 4 – I.S.T.D – International Ski Teacher Diploma) to be able to teach in France.
BASS Morzine was also responsible for my introduction to my wonderful & inspirational husband Ambrogio (a.k.a Ricey) who was an instructor. Ricey is a very charasmatic and memorable instructor – inspiring skiers of all abilities from beginners, nervous ladies to Ski Instructors training for their exams. He is very passionate about skiing and also the psychology involved within sports, focusing on skiing and the mental attributes needed to suceed. He has been one of the biggest reasons for me achieving my ultimate goal (BASI Level 4) – despite everything that has happened on the journey.
This was just the first step – I was on my way, a BASI Level 2 Instructor but the 2 more challenging levels were yet to be conquered and I had no idea was around the corner for me. The next steps to come….more skiing, exams, training, belief, hurdles….
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