SAAS FEE 10 WEEK SKI & SNOWBOARD INSTRUCTOR COURSE 2015: SNOW WAY IT’S ALL OVER (WEEK 10)
How does the Peak Leaders Saas Fee pre-season course stack up against other gap/career breaks? Course leader Steve takes a look back at the full 10 weeks of the Saas Fee ski instructor and snowboard instructor course…
Different countries, different cultures
Just 10 weeks ago, a group arrived in Saas Fee, Switzerland, to begin the Peak Leaders ski and snowboard instructor training course.
The Peak Leaders 2015 crew in Saas Fee, Switzerland
With so many people coming from different countries and backgrounds it was refreshing to hear that almost everyone had two goals in common for the next 10 weeks: become a ski/snowboard instructor and find employment for the winter season.
Best accommodation in Saas Fee
We were spending another season in the fantastic Park Hotel with the very helpful owners Patrick and Jutta… 99% traveller rating on tripadvisor means you’ll be pushed to find better, more agreeable hosts than the Park Hotel in Saas Fee.
A few people fairly stood out as characters right from the start (early warning signs!).
It was easy to tell that Brett had a wicked sense of humor… Brad was on the prowl for more than just the snow… and James’ accent was most likely put on to cover up his strong west-country accent.
Would you trust this lot?
Sunny Saas Fee
For the first few weeks we were soaking up the sun and enjoying the novelty of skiing in September!
Even the snowboarders were loving the skiing in September… only on the practice teaching days though!
The trees were still green, temperatures in the village were around 12 *C and there was a definite feeling that we were still clinging to the end of summer.
Warming up for another day in an already warm autumnal Saas Fee
Getting to grips with skiing and snowboard instruction
During the first two weeks the new trainees were loaded with lots of new information and experiences on just what was required from a ski or snowboard instructor.
Their trainers for the next 8 weeks were Emma and Jake from Element Concept and Gibbo from ES Ride.
Gibbo and Jake (with photo by Emma) heading up for another camo-colored day
The trainees were introduced to the BASI instructor system, which includes the “Central Theme” aka “I can’t do anything slow? But I can do it fast, honest!”
“You seriously want me to ski like this?”
The Central Theme means back to basics to work on snowploughs/sideslips, and looking at skiing/snowboarding skills in much greater detail than before.
We had, inevitably, a few alterations to technique in order to get rid of any bad habits picked up through recreational skiing over the years!
Jake’s infamous fitness sessions
Off the mountain there was a useful first aid course, and the beginning of fitness sessions with Jake (Train with Jake).
The crew watch on hoping it’s not their turn next!
It wasn’t all training though. Everyone fell in love with team mascot “Indy”… and we found plenty of time to relax and make the most of what the alps had to offer including hikes, various team sports and a BBQ run by Garret.
Winter BBQs… nothing beats them!
As week 3 arrived it brought with it the beginning of autumn and the first BASI exam (Level 1) along with BASI trainers Mike Crawford, Amanda Pirie and Rob Norton.
A very happy post-BASI bunch of new instructors
By the end of the week we had new instructors, ready to tackle Level 2!
Staying focused and getting jobs for winter
The next few weeks were focused on continuing to improve on the mountain and securing employment for the upcoming winter season.
We had various sessions on writing CV’s and preparing/practicing for interviews.
The job offers were flying in for weeks!
Practising the ever important “Give me a job!” pose
Freestyle, racing and snow, snow, snow!!!
We made the most of the five weeks after the BASI Level 1 exam to prepare for BASI Level 2.
Emma, Jake and Gibbo were back and putting the crew through their paces.
Emma with a happy and snowy group
During this time we had an amazing freestyle session with Marco, a race training session, an avalanche awareness course with Graham, some shadowing of other instructors (when the skiers taught the snowboarders how to ski (and vice versa)), some epic hikes, played football in the rain, saw the first big snowfall of the season, visited the largest thermal baths in the alps… and – big breath -many many more interesting experiences including Halloween in Popcorn (bar), many big nights in Poison (club), a fondue-based TV debut, the Rugby World Cup and Craig Joubert’s howler!
There was so much going on… that sometimes you just needed to chill and layback
During this time we also welcomed a few new faces to the group in the form of Disa (and her popular “Quiz Nights”), Lauren, Ophelia, Dom, Alex, Chris (Kyte), and Tom (Ball) … like we didn’t have enough Chris’ and Tom’s already!
Get your quiz on with the master of ceremonies (pink apple) Disa
Thanks for everything
As the final few weeks approached we said ‘thank you and goodbye’ to Emma, Jake and Gibbo for all their fantastic training over the previous 8 weeks … and welcomed BASI Level 2 trainers Jon Gass, David Walton and Rob Norton who very kindly brought winter with them!
Goodbye Emma, Jake and Gibbo … and HELLO snow!!!
Snow fell to the valley floor and the whole mountain opened up with fresh powder galore – a perfect start to the upcoming season!
And 10 weeks really went that fast
After a final push during the last two weeks of the course, the hard work of all the trainees (sorry, instructors now!) really paid off and we had brilliant results from the group.
Saas Fee … like a private training ground for the 10 week course
As winter now arrives in full force, we say goodbye and good luck to all who have made the last 10 weeks unforgettable!
We can look back at our goals and say, ‘Yes, we all became snowsports instructors’ and ‘Yes, everybody who wanted to find employment for the winter season now has a job’!
Some trainees even got on TV… now famous for fondue on “Kirstie’s Homemade XMAS”
New friends, new experiences, new options and new travels ahead!
What more can you ask for?
This is just the beginning….