Becoming a snowboard instructor

1st March 2013, by anon

Hope Stannard passed her course in Tignes and can now teach on indoor slopes in the UK

Hope Stannard passed her course in Tignes and can now teach on indoor slopes in the UK

In early 2012 I signed up for a Sno-Limit snowboard instructor course in Tignes. I was 21, working in a bar, having finished my university course the year before, and I was getting rather fed up of not having any direction in my life. I have always loved snowboarding, yet never thought of it as something that could become my career, so when I saw the advert for the course I was surprised to find out how easy it was to become an instructor.

I have been snowboarding for six years, but never thought I was of a level good enough to become an instructor. After a chat on the phone with one of the Sno-Limit team, I was assured that the course was very intense, and that as long as I had a solid grasp of the basics, then the course would supply me with the additional skill, technique and knowledge required to pass the instructors exam.

I signed up for the four-week BASI Level One snowboard instructor course, which took place from mid-November for four weeks. The course would allow me to teach on indoor slopes or on dry slopes. I had never been to Tignes before, but instantly fell in love with its breath-taking scenery and friendly atmosphere; when you arrive you really feel part of a community.

I was one of eight other students staying at Dragon Lodge for four weeks. The lodge itself was very rustic but also luxurious, the latest mod cons available to use such as widescreen televisions, x-boxes, i-pod docks and much much more. The team had tea and cake ready for us on arrival after our journey from Heathrow, which we enjoyed as we relaxed around the open fire.

We started our instructor training on the Monday, with a familiarisation day for us, so we got to know our way around the resort and slopes. The day also gave the instructors a chance to access our ability and skill level. Of the eight students, only 3 of us were sitting the snowboard instructor exam, so we formed a small group by ourselves which meant we received a lot of attention and support.

Throughout the week we worked closely with the instructors as they helped iron out any bad habits or common faults in our basic skills. The instructors were all clearly very passionate about snowboarding, and this really helped when demonstrating or explaining why or how to do something. At the end of the week we had a free session with the instructors, this was a lot of fun. They took us down a wide range of slopes which really challenged us to utilise the skills that had been taught to us throughout the week.

After a wonderful weekend off, which I spent snowboarding, ten pin bowling, meeting lots of fantastic people and generally having a ball, it was back to lessons on Monday. Our second week was a lot more intense, and the idea that we’d all be sitting the BASI exam on week four was starting to sink in. We spent a lot of time both on and off-piste, dealing with all sorts of terrain and snow conditions such as deep powder. Although only the second week, all three boarders in my group had visibly improved, with our control and confidence already improved ten-fold. At the end of the week we had a one-on-one feedback session with our instructors who had been filming our progress, which I found extremely valuable as it helped us visualise any imperfections and mistakes.

In week we ventured across to neighbouring Val d’Isère, to try out our new skills in a different environment. We also had a new set of instructors who each brought fresh experience and knowledge to the table; which I really felt increased the value of the course. At the end of our week we again sat down for a one-on-one with our instructors to go over any last details that needed attention. But they were all very impressed by the level of improvement and what had been achieved, which was comforting and a real confidence booster, as the next time we got together we’d be sitting our BASI Snowboard Instructor exam.

It was apparent that everyone was slightly nervous for the coming week, as the level of alcohol consumption over the weekend had significantly decreased. Minds were focused, and keeping the body in top condition was the priority. I spent a lot of my time going over what the instructors had taught me, I felt confident, but still couldn’t shake off a few butterflies in my stomach.

The exam itself, which is sat through BASI, was a demonstration of all that I had learned, as well as my knowledge and understanding of health and safety, which is another part of your daily lessons. I’m happy to report that my entire group were able to demonstrate complete control and confidence when riding the various slopes. As a result, we all passed the Level 1 BASI qualification, meaning we could now seek employment within an indoor slope or dry ski slope. We can also progress and sit the next BASI qualifications, taking one more step towards a career in professional snowboard instruction.

Looking back I am so glad that I took the leap and signed up — it was an experience that changed my life and opened many doors. I was so fed up with being barmaid in Edinburgh and craved something more fulfilling. Since returning home from Tignes I have started teaching children at a local indoor slope part-time. I have also booked onto another Sno-Limit course, this time in New Zealand so I can sit my level 2 and 3 qualifications.

Becoming a snowboard instructor isn’t as difficult as many may believe, you just have to take that first step and take the plunge, but the rewards are worth it, no more pulling pints for me, now I get paid to ride my board!

Find out more about Sno-Limit courses at



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