LIVING THE DREAM: An interview with Cat Nicol


We first met Cat back in 2010 when she enrolled in our 10-week snowboard instructor course in Verbier, Switzerland. It was clear from the very beginning that Cat loved to snowboard, she’d be outside hiking the home-made jumps in our chalet garden well into the night, and every Saturday morning she’d be on the first lift, which is no easy feat when you consider how wild Verbier’s nightlife can get!

Cat Nicol, snowboard instructor, snowboard instructor course, Peak Leaders, snowboarder, girl snowboarder, snowboard coach

Cat and her normal facial expression

After graduating the course with her BASI level 2 Cat has taught at a number of well-known resorts around the World, as far afield as New Zealand. Over the last 3 years Cat’s passion for the sport hasn’t dwindled and it appears that she’s making in-roads into an industry that she’s passionate about. Who knows, in five years Cat could be the next coach of our Olympic team! Go girl! We caught up with Cat in between seasons to see what she’s been up to and to see what her plans are for the future.

Hey Cat. When did you take your Peak Leaders instructor course, and where?

I did my instructors course in 2010 from February to April with Peak Leaders in Verbier, Switzerland.

What difference did the course make to your riding?

I progressed heaps throughout the course and came away with a whole bunch of new/different performance techniques and teaching techniques. It was also great to have constructive feedback from top coaches who were very inspirational. I got an award for being the ‘most improved’ towards the end of the course, which was very pleasing to walk away with.

Did you ever think that working as an instructor could be a genuine career option?

Definitely. To be honest I couldn’t think of anything else I could see myself doing other than riding and teaching all day.

Where was your first job as an instructor?

My first job was with Interski Snowsports, teaching out in Pila and Courmayeur, Italy. I found them an awesome company and a great crew to work with.

Since then it seems like you’ve worked as a snowboard instructor all over the world. Where have you worked since qualifying, and where is your favourite spot so far?

Since teaching in Italy I’ve managed to do two full seasons in New Zealand, working at Mt Hutt and The Remarkables with NZSKI. I absolutely love it here and I’ve met some amazing people which has made it all worthwhile. NZ feels like home after being over here for almost 2 years.

Cat Nicol, snowboard instructor, New Zealand, NZSki, NZ Ski, Peak Leaders, snowboard instructor jobs, snowboard instructor course

Cat hanging with her fellow Snowboard instructors in NZ

What is the best thing about being a snowboard instructor?

The best thing about being a SB Instructor is getting the opportunity to travel the world, meet new friends each season, learn new things each day, and get a whole lot of discounts…can’t think of anything else but yeah it’s an amazing job to have.

What is the worst thing about being a snowboard instructor?

Worst thing…I can’t think of anything that’s not to like about it..

From what I gather you’re moving toward working as a freestyle coach. Tell us about the coaching you did for the Burton Girls Camp up at The Remarkables.

Yes. I’m hoping to take this opportunity further for sure. Coaching is something that I’m keen on working towards. I was pretty stoked to have been asked to coach at the ‘Burton Girls Camp’ at The Remarks this season, it was a good stepping-stone towards working as a freestyle coach. I’ve always been keen to get involved with freestyle camps. The best thing about it was seeing the girls really pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone and learning new tricks, which they were stoked to achieve.

Cat Nicol, wildcat, backflip, New Zealand, snowboarder, inverted, Peak Leaders

Cat getting wild (snowboarders will get the pun)

Do you prefer coaching to instructing? Is this where you’re aiming to develop your career?

I would love to take more coaching experience on board, as I have with instructing. This is something that sparks my interest as a career in the future, for sure.

Where are you off to instruct next?

I was very fortunate to have two great job offers for next season, from two great resorts. The decisions were Japan or California. I’m now leaning more towards California where I will be based out in Sierra at Tahoe. Tahoe is somewhere that I’ve never been before and will hopefully offer me a whole new life-experience; as well as being a very cool place to ride……..California here I come :)

What’s the BIG plan for the future?

The BIG plan……. I haven’t really thought that far ahead in my life yet…….ha! I think I’ll just keep to making the most of life by traveling and keep doing seasons for the time being.

Working as a snowboard instructor has obviously given you an opportunity to travel. How else do you think it’s helped you to develop, on a personal level, since leaving school?

I’ve definitely learned and found a lot more about myself, as you do when traveling to a lot of places. There’s something about following the snow and doing something that you’re so passionate about, then meeting people with a similar passion and similar values.

Cat Nicol, snowboarder, indy grab, The Remarkables, kicker, air, Peak Leaders

Cat sending a nice Indy off the red kicker in the Verbier park

There are lots of photos of you hanging out with Snowboard royalty (Jamie Anderson, Danny Davis, etc)……What’s the deal with that? Are you coaching them?!!!

Haha…I wish I was coaching them. I’ve managed to explore some experiences ‘in the field’ this season. I volunteered to help with competitions such as ‘The Burton High Five’ that kicked off at Cardrona resort, as well as being there to see the NZ Winter Games in action! I definitely look-up to these riders and I’ve always wanted to find out more about them and their never ending plans. It’s nice to be recognised by them and great to have these contacts to help you find your own routes in the Snowsport world!

Torah Bright, Jamie Anderson, Jenny Jones, Cat Nicol, female professional snowboarders,

We dare to count the number of X-Games medals won by these girls…..Torah’s even got an Olympic Gold!


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