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Great Escapes

Be a ski teacher and ski the world.  It is easier and cheaper than ever, reports John Hill from the Cairngorms

There is no better way to improve your skiing and ski knowledge than becoming a ski or snowboard instructor. And it is a lot easier and cheaper than it used to be thanks to BASI – the British Association of Snowsports Instructors. Founded in 1963, The British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) is a UK based membership association responsible for the training and licensing of snowsport instructors and coaches. If you have had a ski lesson in the UK, chances are you were taught by a BASI qualified instructor.

BASI is affiliated to the ISIA (International Ski Instrcutors Association) and offers instructor training courses all over the world for aspiring teachers, and even those who want to teach at a ski centre in Britain can get be UK-qualified after just a 5-day course and some 35 hours of teaching time at your local snowcentre. You would also have to have first aid training and courses for safeguarding children. Then you have BASI’s Level 1 qualification that allows you to teach on an artificial slope or snowdome.

We at Good Ski Guide have had in our long ski history dozens of lessons, training and days out with ski teachers all over the world and can vouch that our own BASI teachers are as good as they get, not just because they speak our language, but because of the rigorous standards of technical and teaching performance required to succeed at each stage of BASI’s 4 qualification levels. BASI are currently working with the University of Edinburgh to align the instructor qualifications via the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF). This means Members earn academic credits for the BASI qualifications they achieve which are recognised by employers, colleges and universities.

Anyone wishing to teach within a ski school on the mountains needs a minimum BASI Level 2 qualification – a 10-day course and 35 hours of snowsports school teaching experience, and of course a first aid and protecting children course. Many countries throughout the world will accept the BASI Level 2 qualification but if you are teaching abroad you also need to comply with any working regulations for the country you plan to teach in.

The Level 3 BASI qualification is the big one, which qualifies you as an International Ski Instructor. This level of qualification also allows you to teach internationally (except in France) and it goes without saying that this is more time-consuming and difficult to achieve – including:
• 5-day course Alpine Level 3 ISIA course
• 5-day Alpine Level 3 Technical
• 200 hours teaching experience
• Level 3 Mountain Safety course – 6 days
• 5-day theory course
• Second language
• Plus one more 5-day course in 2nd discipline and a coaching course.

Finally, the ultimate is BASI level4, which qualifies you to work as an instructor independently anywhere in the world (subject to country working visas etc), including France, and here’s what is required –
• 5-day Alpine Level 4 teaching course
• 5-day Alpine Level 4 technical course
• 4-day European Mountain Safety Course
• Euro Speed Test
• 6 days ski touring, 200 hours teaching, a written project and finally an interview.
BASI provides a similar qualification progression for Telemarker, Snowboard, Nordic (XC skiers) and Adaptive instructors. Annual Membership of BASI is £75 per year and 5 day course fees start from £425 per course.

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