Ski instructors are truly a breed of their own. These are the people that don’t just visit the mountain, they live, eat, and breath the mountain. Whether you are heading to Cardrona in New Zealand or Colorado’s Copper Mountain, you will find that the best instructors share a lot of the same qualities – their love for the snow, a laid-back personality, and a desire to share their passion with others. Still, each ski culture has its own idiosyncrasies. Here is a look at the characteristics of different ski instructors that you may encounter on your winter sports holiday adventures.
Aussie instructors are certified by Australian Professional Snowsport Instructors Inc, more commonly known as APSI. The program is rigorous, which is part of the reason why Australian instructors are respected internationally. You will often find them teaching abroad, especially at resorts in New Zealand and America.
They tend to take their job very seriously – everything matters; appearance, knowledge, experience and education. Most Aussie instructors are friendly, but you may find one that takes his job a little too seriously. To deal with this type of instructor, you just have to realize where they are coming from. To them the world of white powder and alpine air has become a way of life. If you don’t understand the lingo, or if they are teaching above your level, let them know. They may just need a friendly reminder that you have no idea what they are talking about.
Aussies are fortunate to live next door to New Zealand’s outdoor paradise. Skiing in New Zealand is fantastic and the instructors are amazing. Here you will find the kindest, most laid-back instructors in the world. They love powder and are happy to offer guidance. For high level training however, make sure you seek out a good teacher. These guys and gals are so easy going, it is hard to find a type-A teacher who will really push your limits and help you grow.
It is hit or miss in the States. At some resorts you will find the stereotypical powder bum full with piercings and trendy alpine attire. And then there are the super instructors; they are extremely professional and can be some of the best guides of the slopes in the world. To make sure you learn from a good teacher, ask about qualifications. Find out what level of certification an instructor has before paying good money for a class. In the US, the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors are the main certifying bodies.
Winter sports are popular in Europe. You will find a lot of family-friendly resorts as well as the more hard-core destinations for experienced powder junkies. The instructors however have notoriously high standards – which is great if you have a few years of skiing behind you. For the beginner, however, ski instructors in Europe can be a turn off. Try to scout out instructors before signing up for a session. Watch how they interact with other students – a sure sign is a teacher who is great with kids. Anyone who can teach a six-year-old how to ski in an hour can teach you without making you feel judged.
Skiing or snowboarding in Japan is truly a holiday experience. Most resorts combine the slopes with hot springs – so you get adventure and therapy in one trip! The ski instructors tend to be friendly, calm, and very accommodating. Don’t worry about the language barrier, most instructors in Japan speak English. They are so attentive to detail, you will get a lot out of each lesson no matter what level you are at.
You can find wonderful, highly-qualified ski instructors all over the world. While experience and certification matters, don’t forget in the end you will learn the most if you are having fun. Sometimes the most personable teacher is the most effective.
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