Page 1





Contents 02

The BISS Indoor Champs


Interview With Nik Bateman


Buying Ski Boots


The National Schools Snowsports Association


The British Independent Schools Ski Racing Alpine Championships


The Power Of Purposeful Practice


RAW Snow Sports


Landgraaf Half A Kilometre Of Fun!


Schools Ski Champs Takes Place In Perfect Conditions


From A Lion To A Guiness World Record Holder With Snowbility


Travel Places


First Aid Training For Teachers


Ski Instruction As A Genuine Career Choice?


When Are You Going To Get A Real Job?


The Equipment You Need To Progress In Ski Racing And Training


Why A Ski Weekend?


A Career In Snowsports


Interview With Pete Gillespie


Dan Gillespie Indoors & Out Still Hungry


The British Schools Winter Games


Welsh Schools Ski Race Magazine


Snowsports England


The Artemis Interschool Ski Challenge




The British School Races

49 Calendar

SCHOOLS SNOWSPORTS MAGAZINE Issue 1 The Annual Publication of The National Schools Snowsports Association Schools take part in many sports – some traditional, like rugby and football, and some not so, like fencing, rowing and ski racing. We’ve found that snowsports, while not for everyone, often attract children who do not enjoy or perhaps are not as successful at many of the more traditional school sports, meaning that it can be a great extracurricular activity for these children. The old image of skiing being elitist or expensive is still around but is largely untrue these days, with a plethora of facilities in the UK, indoor snow and outdoor dry slopes and indoor Skiplex systems, which allow more children than ever to at least try the sport. This can lead to a lifelong interest in the sport, but in the short term this interest can be cultivated by working with the school to develop a ski team. There is no shortage of events such a team can attend throughout the year, both in the UK and abroad, and the schools can help the teams by working with organisations such as BISS Racing in order to build their school teams in the UK, training regularly or in the lead-up to events. The NSSA’s Schools Snowsports Magazine hopes to increase interest in snowsports in schools, bringing more children into these sports and increasing participation in the schools’ events. This should have a twofold result with more children enjoying ski racing, which then leads to more children proceeding to higher levels of the sport and, hopefully, giving the UK a greater presence at world level. Whilst so far being mainly focused on ski racing, the NSSA is looking to bring freestyle events and ski cross within the reach of schools to further develop these sports and the participants from school level upwards.


he BISS Racing Indoor Championships have become an established event on the schools ski racing calendar over the last three years, starting with 180 participants at the first event and rising year on year so that this year, the unprecedented capacity of 300 racers for the event was met with two months left until the closing date.

some exciting racing with fastest times coming from Nicole Shering (The Burgate School) and The Cavendish School’s Byron Appleton. Some notable performances across the teams brought success for Millfield School A in the boys’, Surbiton High School A in the girls’ and Solihull School in the mixed category.

With this in mind, the day promised to be a busy one. Over 50 schools were represented, and the junior schools were queuing outside The Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead waiting for the 8.15am opening for the teams while the organisers were setting up for the first race of the day, the junior schools event.

The man behind BISS Racing, Phil Brown, said about the event: ‘This is fast becoming a must-do event for many schools. This year, we had to turn schools away once we reached capacity, and that goes against the ethos we have of increasing participation in the sport, so next year, building on the event’s continued popularity, we will be splitting the event across two days to accommodate demand, with juniors participating one day and seniors the other. We will also be running a BISS Northern event to enable more schools to participate.”

With everything in place, the start was delayed by 15 minutes as schools travelling from a distance had been caught in traffic and were allowed to arrive and get organised. The junior race, with 158 on the start list, was completed just after midday with placings coming from the fastest run of two. The field was a mix of abilities and experience, from firsttime racers through to athletes who compete on the UK circuit regularly. Some notable times were put in by Max Fairfull (The Hall School) and Abbie Parker (St Paul’s C of E) to take fastest boy and girl respectively, but the race was all about the school teams event, and these trophies were won by The Hall School A in the boys’ category, Littlegarth School A in the girls’ and Chesham Prep in the mixed category.

Prizes were presented by Olympian Aimee Fuller, who was brought along by event sponsors Caxton FX. On to the afternoon – a new course of full gates with age groups from U14 to U21 and



Any schools looking to start or find additional training for their school teams can contact BISS for help with this at

Full results for the 2015 Caxton FX BISS Indoor Champs can be found on the BISS website.










INTERVIEW with Nik Bateman O

n most given days during the summer holidays, if you were to visit The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, you are likely to see two girls practising their skills on the slope. Danniella and Nicole Bateman are nine-yearold twins who have an unshakeable love of skiing. They started skiing at age three and haven’t looked back since. For the last six years they have skied virtually every week either at home or on holidays in the mountains. The sport for them has been a good mixture of structured lessons, race camps such as Impulse Racing, riding the features at a freestyle evening and just having fun on the snow by themselves. They have been extremely lucky, skiing with top coaches and even several Olympic athletes both national and international over the years. The girls have steadily improved down through the years and have benefited from the facilities and instruction available locally just north of London. While spending much of their early life learning the basics of skiing, they are now also having fun by competing in the occasional race.

Indeed, along with their Chesham Prep School teammates, George Haig and Archie Sjoberg, they have been regulars at the BISS Race events since the start of the Championships, which has given both them and their school a great opportunity to race as a team: a team that has not only enjoyed a good level of success but also encouraged an increasing number of pupils to take to the slopes. At the 2015 event in September, their school team won the mixed teams race. Phil Brown, of Impulse and BISS Racing, says of the girls, whom he knows very well, “These two little ladies have trained with us on many occasions both at home and abroad. I believe they both really represent a true embodiment of our philosophy; that is to say, through a combination of good technical foundation and enjoyment, we are able to build the skier and thus create the racer. They have trained with us individually and with their school team, always being eager to learn and of course have fun, sometimes at our coaches’ expense.”

Whether seeing how much air they can get off a kicker or perfecting their 360s, the freestyle kids’ sessions at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead, on Friday nights have become a weekly highlight in their skiing lives, a step too far for their mother when it comes to watching. Pete Gillespie, Head of Snowsports at The Snow Centre says, “I have watched Danniella and Nicole from a young age, and while they have become extremely good junior skiers, I think what's most important is that their love of skiing shines through, evident by their constant smiles as they speed down our slope or take on the features at our Friday night freestyle sessions. They are well known and greatly liked by all here at the Centre.” As the girls continue on their skiing journey, wherever that may take them, one can but hope that they continue to take such pleasure from what they see as their favourite pastime.

Not limiting themselves to just improving their downhill ability, they have also crossed over to discover the joy of freestyle skiing.



BUYING Ski Boots


hey are probably the most important piece of kit you will ever own, so why don’t people take the purchase of ski boots seriously? The process is very simple when broken down, yet so many people end up with boots two sizes too big and end up in pain on their holidays. Explaining this in words is a little tricky, but the information below should help guide you through the things that you should know when you make the purchase. Working with a boot fitter rather than a seller is the key to giving you the best boots you ever owned. Don’t leave this until the week before you go on holiday; it takes time to get things just right, and if you have not got time, you risk compromising your comfort and performance.



It starts with the foot – ski boots don’t hurt, feet do! If we think about this logically, all we have to do is put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole, so where can it go wrong? Twenty-eight bones and a whole heap of muscles, ligaments and tendons all go a long way to make this process simple. A thorough foot inspection is vital; your boot fitter needs to get up close and personal with your feet. They need to know about any history of injuries and problems you may have suffered in the past, and they need to see how flexible your foot and the ankle joint are. These are key points in establishing what position works for you inside a boot. Measuring is more than just numbers; the numbers are a start but they are not the only thing. After the shell shape and flex have been decided, a shell check is vital. This is when the foot is placed in the empty shell of the boot; toes should just brush the end of the boot, and the fitter is looking to see how much space there is between the heel of the foot and the inside of the back of the boot. The length is just one dimension that is looked at in the shell check. The foot width, toe box shape, and instep and heel volumes are all checked during this process, so if your fitter doesn’t do a shell check, it is time to make your excuses and leave. You must understand that there are no half sizes in boots. The 26.0 and 26.5 in pretty much all boots are the same shell and the same liner; the differences are normally the insole thickness and the sticker on the box.






Flex – one of the biggest mistakes people make when buying boots is getting boots either too soft or too stiff for their body weight and ability. There are three key elements which determine the flex of a boot: ability, body weight and ankle-joint flexibility. Boot flex can be adjusted by a good fitter. Even if there is no physical adjustment on the boot, careful addition or removal of materials can change things in either direction. Footbeds – these are the foundation of the fitting process, and along with the correct shell selection, probably the most important bit of the whole job. Around 80% of people have unstable feet. If this is you, your feet will spread out a bit when you stand up and spread a bit more when you apply the forces involved in skiing. The footbed is designed to reduce this spread and distribute weight over the whole foot. Look for a store and a fitter who works with more than one brand ideally. This way there will be a range of products to work with different foot types. Adjustments – if you have pretty standard feet with no lumps and bumps, then the fitting process may be simple. If you have any kind of protruding bones, very wide feet or other lumps and bumps, then it may be necessary to make adjustments to the boot to accommodate these. This is not a bad thing; it is the best way to get an accurate fit around your foot, and a good fitter should be able to make shapes on a boot to accommodate anything that you may have going on with the foot.

Breaking in boots takes time, and the first few days are not going to be the most comfortable ones. If the boot feels “too comfortable” in the store, it will most likely pack out and have too much space in it after a week or two of skiing. While some people want this, for most, going through a few days of discomfort is well worth it to get a pair of boots which will perform well and be comfortable for many years to come. One last thing – flexibility and fitness. Unless you are lucky enough to ski full time, chances are that you spend your year sat at a desk earning the cash to go on your skiing holiday. You probably wear either smart work shoes (or heels, ladies) or a pair of soft casual shoes of some type. Then you pour yourself into the confines of a plastic shelled ski boot. If your calf muscles are tight, your boots WILL hurt. If you’re unfit, your feet and other parts of you WILL hurt. It is very easy to blame the boot, but we have to remember that our feet and bodies are not used to the environment which they are being taken into. No fitter can do much about your flexibility; the only person who can stretch and get fit for skiing is YOU!

The National



e hope you enjoy this magazine, the first annual publication by the National Schools Snowsports Association (NSSA). The NSSA is an organisation set up for schools and will be an information hub for schools’ snowsports. This has not been available to schools previously, and we hope to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for schools interested in snowsports activities or wanting to get involved in competitions from novice level upwards. The association has been a year in the planning and will look to expand the snowsports opportunities available to schools, increase the knowledge base for schools’ snowsports and generally improve access to the sport for all schools. With offers for member schools from a number of retailers, suppliers, travel insurance companies and training organisations, the NSSA will represent a great-value membership for schools’ ski teams and squads.



In the longer term, the NSSA will look to work with more and more organisations within the British snowsports arena along with more schools and will work to introduce training grants and bursaries for both individual performers and school teams or squads. There are already several organisations affiliated with the NSSA to deliver training and run events for school ski teams and also for schools interested in freestyle events, something new for schools to take part in. The NSSA endorse numerous events through the year, both UK and alpinebased, and pass details of these events to member schools with recommendations of training and race support for these events. The association are more than happy to work with all schools and to answer any questions on schools’ snowsports from both member and non-member schools.

The board of the association comprises of a number of highly experienced individuals from UK snowsports and with UK snowsports and school competition expertise, including coaches, teachers and active members of the UK travel industry. The Chair of the NSSA, Phil Brown, a former national team head coach, had this to say about the organisation: “Schools snowsports in the UK is pretty fractious with a number of different organisations running events and activities. There is no clear entry point or pathway for schools snowsports athletes. What the NSSA aims to do is change this, making us a ‘one-stop shop’ for schools snowsports and working with existing bodies such as SSE, ESSKIA and the regions to bring about this change, making it easier and clearer for schools and individuals to find their way into and through the sport at school level.”

For further information or membership queries, please contact the NSSA at


of membership

For all member schools and individuals joining by 31 December 2016, we are offering the opportunity to win several prizes. All memberships processed during this period will be placed in a draw to win the following. •

• The NSSA has set up several levels of membership, each with benefits for the pupils attending the member school.

MPI Insurance, Impulse Racing, Head Skis etc. With more discounts being added as the association grows.

Schools Membership, Associate – This is for schools and the benefits are inclusion in schools snowsports newsletters and information on training and events, offers on equipment, with retailers, centres, resorts and insurance as we receive them.

Individual Membership – This has all the benefits of the Schools Membership, Full but is designed for the few individuals that are involved in schools snowsports but whose school are not able to field numbers for events etc.

Schools Membership, Full – This includes all of the above plus regular discounts with NSSA partner organisations including: Ski Bartlett,

For further information on membership, please contact us on

A free training session at Hemel or a dry slope near the school for up to 10 pupils – Worth up to £350. Two free team entries to the British Independent Schools Alpine Champs in February 2017 – Worth £740 Two free team entries to the British Schools Winter Games in April 2017 – Worth £740 Free training for up to 5 pupils at the Interschools Challenge in March 2017 – Worth £1250 Free entry for 2 school teams into either the ISA Indoor Champs 2017 or the British Independent Schools Ski Racing Indoor Champs 2017 – Worth £200




Alpine Championships



ust as the BISS Indoor Championships has become an established event on the schools ski racing calendar over the last four years, so BISS Racing launched an alpine race during the 2016 season. This builds on the success of the indoor races and is aimed at all schools. BISS have been working in the schools ski racing market for a number of years and are the only specialists in this area, so it made sense for them to take their successful schools event formula onto snow to offer further choice to the schools looking for more events, and, more to the point, more accessible events. The event was held in Pila, in the pretty region of Valle d’Aosta in the northwest of the country. This resort was chosen due to its accessibility, within two hours of Geneva, Milan and Turin and only an hour from Chamonix. This is also the home resort of Impulse Racing, who were instrumental in setting this event up. In 2016, the event ran on Monday 29 February and Tuesday 1 March, and consisted of three races, Slalom for senior schools with Kombi for the juniors, Giant Slalom for all and a Parallel/Head-to-Head event for all racers. This event is aimed at getting more children involved in ski racing and, as such, was run in a simple manner with racers taking part in individual events, scoring points that will go toward the schools competition. BISS Racing’s Louise Jones says of the event: “We love working with schools, getting more children to enjoy and be part of the sport that we love and have been involved with for years. Growing the pool of British racers taking part in international competitions is our aim with BISS, and we see running competitions such as this one, along with the schools race programmes, as an important and integral part of this. One of the biggest things for us is that these kids enjoy their sport. We’re very pleased to have the support of Skiplex UK for our events for 2016.” The 2017 event will take place on the 22 and 23 February and will be supported by headline sponsor Travel Places. Training will be available on the 19 and 20 February. In order to help the less experienced racers and schools, BISS are working with local hotels and transfer companies to offer a package for the event, with transfers, accommodation, lift passes and training for two days prior to the races. With free places available for teachers accompanying groups, this looks like it could be a must-do event for schools in seasons to come.

For more information on the event or any other schools race events and training, contact BISS Racing at:

Credit: New Generation Ski School

THE POWER OF PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE by John Arnold, Performance Coach, Mindfulness Teacher and Ski Coach NSSA 12


n this article John takes a look at some of the reasons why sporting achievements are attained as there are a few essential ingredients. He goes on to make the case for how purposeful practice in any life endeavour, and in life itself, is the central player in achievement, and how Mindfulness and Compassion Based Interventions (MCBIs) have powerful and lasting positive effects.

CREATING THE CONDITIONS I wonder if the best teachers are those who create the conditions for learning, who bring the learner to the space and inspire them to inquire and explore? Are the most effective teachers those who show the learner where to look, but don’t tell them what to see? In sport are the best coaches those who aim to make themselves redundant? Learning which changes behaviour and attitudes, and doesn’t only accumulate knowledge and promote understanding, is acquired by applying oneself to an endeavour. Practice is an essential ingredient if skills are to be acquired, and the type of practice is crucial, as is the type of book one needs to read to gain knowledge of motorcycle maintenance! Other essentials come to mind: accessible facilities; coaching support; the athlete’s selfbelief, discipline and commitment; vision, goals and objectives, a plan; forming a team; knowing what’s required to create a framework of support; gathering resources; influence from informed innovative advisors – the “to do” list seems almost endless. Then comes the challenging bit: consistent commitment, disciplined decisions, vibrant vision and leadership which mobilises all stakeholders. And keeping a check on reality, always having an eye on the bigger picture helps (and there always is a bigger picture). As Boris Becker said after one of his rare losses on Centre Court: “It’s only tennis; no one has died, have they!” Above all though, the aspiring Olympian practises their craft, guided by informed, experienced and competent coaching staff that think and reflect on their coaching decisions rather than simply reading from the manual, or worse still making it up along the way. Practice is where the “rubber meets the tarmac”, or in our case, the “ski meets the snow”; there are no short routes on the Olympian journey.


Credit: New Generation Ski School

PURPOSEFUL PRACTICE We arrive at the door of practice daily: every day, whether we feel like it or not. In sport, the skiers take to the slopes, the swimmers to the pools, the players to the field. In education teachers take to the classrooms to practise their craft each working day. In the corporate world, CEOs and company directors aim to provide leadership through their professional practices and decision-making. In every sector, professionals practise their craft daily, and many strive to embody qualities and capabilities which support such dedicated practice. We advocate purposeful practice, meaning that we continually seek out the whys, whats and hows, remaining open-minded, curious, non-judgemental and ready to see other ways of looking at and approaching our realities and problems. The winning mindset, one which helps to create the conditions for achievement, is central to any performer’s achievements, and this applies to everyone. After all, isn’t life just one mysterious performance? To develop purposeful practice, we explore viewpoints and perspectives from the inside out; we begin where we are now, examining our beliefs about ourselves, the world we live in and the game we are playing. As these perspectives are recognised and our self-awareness deepens, we become clearer concerning what we think and


do which serves us well, and that which inhibits us. In this way athletes and professionals in their work begin to unfold the powerful asset which exists within them, and self-belief in their capabilities to achieve becomes apparent.

“Learning to play in the zone requires you to develop a strong set of beliefs and to deepen your faith in yourself and your mental abilities.” Robert Nideffer

SELF-AWARENESS Developing the faculty of mindfulness, of “knowing what’s happening, when it’s happening, without preference” (Nairn 2009), is the pathway to deepening our self-awareness, and this is one of the foundations from which purposeful practice will flourish. In the world of sport (basketball), one of the best-known and most successful coaches to advocate this was Phil Jackson, who embedded mindfulness and compassion into his teams’ values, beliefs and everyday action. What challenges some are the apparent paradoxes in this methodology, such as not thinking to improve doing and a non-grasping attitude towards achieving. Related to

compassion is nurturing one’s respect for the opponent, oneself and the environment without moving into anger. Developing the foundations of mindfulness and compassion leads us to treat ourselves more kindly, helps us to be on our own side, and through this a realisation of the self as its greatest ally and its potentiality to be its own greatest enemy. Our capabilities emerge when we engage with the practice and experience the process of change from the inside out.

“Being aware is more important than being smart.” Phil Jackson

MINDFULNESS IN TEACHING AND LEARNING Through mindfulness and compassion training, teachers gain tools and techniques to develop their own capabilities for maintaining focus, emotional resilience, improved relationships, stress reduction and coping with difficult work situations. The training aims to “create the conditions” for teachers to flourish through, for example, deepening self-awareness, recognising impulses, non-engagement with reactions, attentively listening, holding the learning environment and teaching from “who” we are in balance with “what” we know.

Credit: New Generation Ski School

The application of mindfulness principles to learning is underpinned by a range of “attitudes” which frame the learner’s perception of how they approach their learning performance. The “attitudinal foundation” put forward by Kabat-Zinn and early groundbreaking work by Ellen Langer form a basis for our methodology. This training is particularly useful for teachers who seek to involve learners “experientially” in their own learning and who endeavour to make the learning experience enjoyable, motivating and inspiring. Mindfulness-based approaches to learning open up a vast field of learning activity which is absent when working with more traditional learning methods. Curiosity, self-awareness and perspective-shifting assist learners to see the learning for themselves, so they understand the process of learning and their role within it. Remaining present whatever the conditions, recognising habitual tendencies and reaffirming intention specific to task all underpin this attitudinal shift.

“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

MINDFULNESS IN SPORT In the sports context there are many applications: the individual athlete, collective team, coaching staff and management/ support staff. This form of training takes sport teams through a transformational process which improves cohesion, team goal-setting, emotional resilience, stress management and self-regulation, and changes the ways teams view both the process and outcome of performance, for the better. Training will aim to create the conditions whereby the team’s capabilities for shared cooperation, collaborative training and self-inquiry are improved. Important components of this training will include, for example, noticing the emergence of “insights”, reframing information, identifying variable contexts, making unique connections, emotional control in challenging scenarios and creating new categories.

and concentration, tapping into the body’s intelligence to be fully in the present moment of performance. This training helps athletes to observe their performance through the body and know that acceptance is a precursor to performance change; it leads them to loosen the detrimental grip of self-judgement and let go of unproductive thoughts, and to see things as they are, rather than how one wishes. One develops a healthier relationship with oneself and is able to navigate through the trials and tribulations of life.

“Just believe in your dreams. If you have dreams, don’t give up. Belief is the most common word to me, even more than hope. For one to achieve his dreams, he needs to truly believe in them.” Novak Djokovic

Individual athletes at high levels are known to include meditation as part of their psychological preparation, and Novak Djokovic is just one example. Through meditation the mind becomes clearer, able to discern between fleeting thoughts and engaged thinking. It leads to awareness of mind, emotions and body and teaches focus

For more information on mindfulness and compassion in education and sport, contact John at



aw Snowsports are delighted to be affiliated with the new National Schools Snowsports Association (NSSA) and to provide international support for the schools’ alpine snowsports network from Dubai. Raw are based in Dubai at the 600m-long slope, Ski Dubai. Run by Mike Barker, former Snowsport England Head Coach, Raw support the UAE Interschool committee with parent education, school team coaching, volunteer race official training and race coach education. They are working in conjunction with many clubs and school providers to create a centre of excellence for snowsports in the desert, with all the training opportunities in the largest centre in the world and fitness in the sunshine all year round too! Raw will be attending a lot of the Europeanbased school events with teams and athletes based in Dubai. Raw are also offering instructor training from 14 years upwards using the Snowsport England pathway and the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (IASI) Level 1, from 16 years. Raw have a great set-up if you are either wanting to set up a standalone


camp or transiting through to the Southern Hemisphere. If you would like more information about Raw, visit or contact them on Raw Snowsports are teaming up with BISS Racing in 2017 to run a ski and multisport camp in Dubai for UK schools. Please contact for information.

LANDGRAAF Half a kilometre of fun!


few times a year, we head out for a long weekend to train at this amazing facility in the east of the Netherlands. Being only three hours from Calais means that, from the south at least, it’s easily achievable to spend a weekend here without taking much, if any, time off school or work. It’s over three times the length of any of the UK centres, so training time here is valuable. Trainees can make some great changes to their skiing over a couple of days as the slope lends itself to working on technique as well as being able to set 30+ gate courses. Landgraaf has three slopes. Looking up, on the left we see a 30m-wide race slope, and on the right a 30m-wide slope that’s open to the public and works well for drills and skills. In the middle, from the bottom we see a hut at about halfway. Above this is a 25m-wide snow park, which runs just down the top half of the slope. Each visit you see different features in this park: on one occasion, a VW camper with a rail on its roof!

A weekend’s training here will see up to six hours per day on the hill, usually in two-hour stretches as it’s pretty cold, and after two hours, we usually need to get in and warm up. We mix the sessions up with technical sessions and gate training running on each day. Depending on the group, the gym on site is great for fitness, and there is a great climbing park outside, similar to Go Ape in the UK. With all of this and a hotel and restaurants on site, Snowworld Landgraaf makes a great place for a weekend's training for school teams without taking much, if any, time away from school.

During 2016, NSSA-affiliated training organisation, BISS Racing, have been working with several schools to train here with their teams. The great thing about this is that you can take your skiers of all levels as there will be coaches to work with them, from novice racer level up to experienced or elite level. Using skills and drills over a greater distance than any UK venue, it gives you more time actually skiing to bring about greater changes and improvements. Working with NSSA travel partner, Travel Places, you can have a package organised to include your travel by air or coach.

If you’d like any information on this, contact either the NSSA at or BISS Racing at

In May 2016, there is a race being held at Landgraaf, over the late May bank holiday weekend. BISS Racing are working with the organisers to bring schools to this great competition in order to have a schools race within the main event. Any schools interested in taking part should contact BISS for details on



Perfect Conditions T

his season may have had a bit of a rocky start with the snow gods deciding to wait until the peak New Year week was done and dusted before sending down blankets of snow for us all to enjoy. This bare start affected the holiday industry, with people waiting on the first significant snow dump before arranging any travel, and also caused problems for a number of early-season ski races which were postponed or simply delayed as a result of poor coverage.

ski coaching from either ESF instructors or with the option to get more specialist race training coaching from Impulse. Then there are two days of championships, concluding with a gala supper and extensive prize-giving ceremony, rewarding both individuals and teams alike.

However, there was no such problem for the Independent Schools Ski and Snowboard Championships, which was running for the 10th consecutive season from the snow-sure Les 2 Alpes. The event saw over 200 pupils aged 6–18, from 15 schools, battling it out on the famous Les 2 Alpes glacier in Slalom, Giant Slalom and Team Parallel Slalom.

The event this season was held in beautiful conditions, with blue skies and great visibility leading to a very enjoyable event for the schools, pupils, parents and teachers. The event was attended by a selection of UK-based schools as well as a mixed team of young Dubai racers from a selection of British Middle Eastern schools.

Organised and hosted by ski and snowboard course organisation Basecamp, supported by Impulse and BISS Racing, the event is a five-night package. It begins with two days of

Hurst College have had great results for the past four years, benefiting from the impressive Sam Todd-Saunders at the helm, who clean swept the Slalom and Giant Slalom for four


The event attracts a broad range of skiing abilities and is well known for its open-mindedness and appeal to first-time racers.

years straight. He has now left, and so the door is open for the next challenger to claim the throne. Charlie Luke (Steyning Grammar) and Piers Bellman (Whitgift) were the standout skiers in the men’s division and came first and second in the Giant Slalom, ably followed by an impressive Oliver Baillie from Albyn. The two were unable to continue this form into the Individual Slalom, however, with both stumbling on the final gate on their first run, and Nick France from Bede’s College capitalised on the opportunity with some tidy skiing to claim the top spot on the Slalom podium, closely followed by Oliver Baillie and Hugo Mooney (Hurst). In the girls’ event, Helen Todd-Saunders carried on with the fine reputation her brother had created and was unassailable in all of the girls’ divisions, claiming both the Giant and Individual Slalom slots. She was followed by Alisha Jani and Maddy Points in the Giant Slalom (both Wycombe), and Maddy Points and Samantha Worthington (Lancing) in the Individual Slalom.

Due to increased volume, this year also saw the first running of a specialised Junior event, with a separate Slalom course, and the early running on the Giant Slalom. Josh Dawes from Whitgift won the Junior Giant Slalom and was closely followed by Oliver Morgan (Team Dubai) and Jim Mathers (King’s College Wimbledon). The young Dubai racers deserve special mention for their performance in the Junior Slalom, with Oscar Morgan and Ben Sheriff claiming gold and silver (Kit Bellman from Whitgift claimed bronze), demonstrating what a strong breeding ground Ski Dubai is proving to be. On the team side, Whitgift managed to take Hurst College’s crown and claimed the Team Giant Slalom Gold. They have developed hugely as a race unit over the past few years of the event, and it was just reward for all the racers and all the hard work they have put in. Hurst did, however, reclaim their title in the Individual Slalom, made even more impressive by the numbers of girls in their first team, again proving that the technical slalom does open up the ball park much more. The Team Parallel Slalom is always the highlight, a raw playground-style head-tohead battle that enthrals both racers and spectators, year in, year out, and this year was no exception. We were all witness to a highly

efficient King’s College Wimbledon clean-up in the Juniors and were fortunate enough to see some great battles in the Seniors as well, with the Hurst C team progressing to the semi-finals and almost causing the upset of knocking out the Hurst A team. A young King’s College Wimbledon Senior team were highly capable and were likely finalists. They were up against an older and more experienced Hurst A team who were sure favourites. It was an enthralling final, going right down to the final race (of the six), with Fred Mathers against Helen Todd-Saunders, but the enthusiastic young KCW skipper could not do enough to beat her, with Helen, as cool as ever, bouncing down the course unfazed to make sure that Hurst reclaimed their title. The event was fortunate enough to have a great line of sponsors in the form of MPI Brokers, Armada Skis, Planks and Ticket to Ride, who provided a stream of excellent prizes for all the young racers to take home in addition to their medals and trophies. The event is expected to continue to grow in 2016 and will be running over the same period. For more information or a more detailed breakdown of the results, visit




iagnosed with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) at age three, it was a real struggle to get Harry to participate in any activities outside of the house. Harry’s behaviour, when he was first diagnosed, could best be described as unpredictable. If he was anxious or stressed, he would stop at nothing to escape the situation. Meltdowns were frequent and exhausting. He was excluded from multiple nurseries before the age of four, and school was nothing short of a disaster. After a matter of weeks, I elected to homeschool. Unable to make or maintain friendships, his life


was increasingly isolated – and isolating for me too, as his main carer. Until his diagnosis (and for quite some time afterwards), I felt quite lost trying to deal with Harry’s behaviour. All of the strategies parents usually suggest (the naughty step, rewards and treats) simply did not work with Harry.

The company I called was Snowbility, who have an understanding that each autistic child is different and has different needs. They also have an appreciation that autistic children can respond positively to skiing. There are no mutterings about bad behaviour. No criticisms about parenting, just an understanding.

So when I stumbled on a leaflet suggesting skiing for autistic children, I was intrigued. Not particularly hopeful, but definitely intrigued. I had no reason to believe Harry would enjoy it (and a million reasons to believe he would not!), but it was too good an opportunity to ignore. Here was an activity geared towards an autistic child. I took the leaflet and called the number. It turned out to be one of the best calls I’ve ever made.

I have to admit, until that call I had never considered skiing as a possible recreation for Harry; quite surprising given some of the harebrained things I have considered! But from the moment Harry hit the slopes, he adored it.

Harry has been skiing for several years now, and the benefits are enormous. Of course, Harry has learnt to ski, which in itself is amazing. Especially for Harry, who is unable to access many sports; team sports, for instance, remain beyond his reach right now.



Other results are less easily quantified. For Harry has not only learnt to ski; he has learnt some invaluable life lessons too. His independence, confidence and self-awareness have all been boosted by skiing. The effect this has had on his personality is just amazing. I truly do not believe that Harry would be the happy, outgoing and confident child he is if he had not found an activity he truly enjoys. I believe snowsports are ideal for autistic children, who may have social and communication issues. Skiing is a social activity but without the need for “team” rules. For Harry, and for our family, it’s perfect!

If you would like to find out how Snowbility can help you or would like to book a taster session,

PLEASE CONTACT Richard Fetherston 07713 888199



ravel Places is proud to be the Official Travel Partner for BISS Racing. The partnership between Travel Places and BISS Racing will see all travel arrangements – from booking flights to on-ground transfers – and accommodation handled by Travel Places, whilst the day-to-day running of the ski racing will be looked after by BISS Racing. Travel Places has been looking after travel logistics for pro teams, individuals and groups for over 40 years. Each year we take approximately 100+ schools on tour for either sport or education. We cover all the major touring destinations and have dedicated ground staff in each country; we understand that having support on the ground can be a comfort should you need any assistance. Each of our tours is tailor-made so we can meet your


exact requirements, whether you are looking for a first-time tour, a pre-season warm-up or an end-of-season showstopper. The members of our team have a passion for travel, a wealth of experience in operating and have travelled to many of the destinations we offer. As a result, we are knowledgeable and confident we could help with any questions you may have. Being a small team we recognise that customer service is a priority; from your time of booking you will work with one member of Travel Places staff from start to finish.

Working alongside BISS Racing is a new venture for us, so we are excited to be part of the unique experience that they offer and we look forward to welcoming the first group soon!

For more information, please contact








WWW.TRAVE LPLACES.CO.UK Travel Places, in association with American Express Global Business Travel



For Teachers I

s first aid training something you’ve thought about? If you are a qualified coach in a sport, it may be something you have to have to validate your qualification. Perhaps your school requires a certain number of individuals to be first aid trained and you’ve volunteered for this? If not, it may be something that you should consider, especially if you’re involved with taking pupils on any trips away from school. Relying on others for first aid may well prove disasterous. First aid is one aspect which can often be overlooked. As we are all engaged in taking part in a sport which carries a fairly high risk of accidents, it seems only prudent to ensure we all are equipped with the best tools and skills to deal with an emergency! Many accidents on- or off-piste are easily dealt with. Our role as first aiders is to ensure the casualty is safe, warm and comfortable as we triage and diagnose them.


Training can give you the skills to carry out the following in a tried and tested way to make sure the situation is dealt with in a calm and efficient manner. Such skills include: • • • • • • • •

approaching the casualty performing a primary survey secondary survey recovery position performing CPR and use of an AED simple bandaging spinal board practices and how to help in using one other situations you may encounter

To enable good first aid, it is important that you deal with any incident according to your training. Many of us have done some sort of first aid in the past; however, how many of us can remember what to do? That’s why training on a regular basis is a must to ensure we act promptly and do so in a confident manner when the need arises.

World Class Training specialise in delivering firstclass training courses to equip you with the skills required. All their trainers come from an activitybased background and specialise in snowsports, which creates a great atmosphere for ensuring the course contents are relevant. Some of the first aid trainers are also highly qualified snowsports professionals in their own right. The Activity First Aid course is an Ofqual-certified course which carries credits on the credit framework, so it can be used for your compliance in your place of business too. These can be attended on an individual basis or, as a more cost-effective method, they can come to you in order to deliver the training to a group.

To find out more, check out


Lee Townend - Snoworks GAP director

SKI INSTRUCTION as a genuine career choice??? T

aking a gap year can be a fantastic opportunity to gain once-in-alifetime experiences, additional qualifications and/or experience for your future career choice. However, what about your career choice? Accountant? Lawyer? Doctor? Teacher? Or ski instructor? Becoming a ski instructor is often seen as a fantastic gap year opportunity, and it is. However, it should also be considered as a serious career pathway. With the growth market of British ski holidaymakers wanting British instructors, there are plenty of opportunities out there. BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) has a four-tier system in alpine skiing and snowboarding, and three-tier systems in telemark, adaptive and Nordic ski teaching.

The different qualification levels bring you varying employment opportunities: (alpine skiing) • •

All gap ski instruction course providers offer and include the first two alpine ski levels within the British system. This will allow you to teach part-time and with some full-time possibilities. This is usually where the majority will call it a day and head off to university in search of degrees and employment opportunities in other fields. However, when you choose to climb further up the ski instructional ladder, the doors will start to open. You will then be in a position to gain realistic and fantastic career choices. The ISIA is awarded at Level 3 within BASI and is a worldwide recognised award. With this there are full-time possibilities to teach in exciting and wellpaid positions all year round. You could find yourself in Switzerland in the Northern Hemisphere winter, and then off down to New Zealand or Australia for the Southern winter. Once you complete the full four-tier system, you are in a position to teach skiing worldwide (visas apply in certain countries) and even start your own independent business or ski school in certain countries.

BASI Level 1 – UK closed environment such as snowdomes and dry ski slopes BASI Level 2 – All of Europe (France requires the addition of the Test Technique slalom exam) part-time, some full-time possibilities, also USA, New Zealand and Japan with the correct working holiday visa BASI Level 3 (ISIA International Ski Instructors Association) – Worldwide (France requires the addition of the Test Technique slalom exam) BASI Level 4 (ISTD International Ski Teacher Diploma) – Worldwide, with the possibilities to work independently and build your own business

Credit: pollyabaldwin SnoworksGap


Here is a selection of school leavers that initially may have only planned it as a gap year, and look where they are now! James Duffield

David Hill

I started my BASI pathway in November 2009, passing my BASI Level 1 in Zermatt, and then I went on to pass my BASI Level 2 in December 2009 in Courchevel. I succeeded in passing BASI Level 3 in the summer of 2011 and finally BASI Level 4 in September of 2012. Since then I have reached the pinnacle of my ski teaching career so far, and as of November 2014, I became a BASI trainer and am now active in delivering the pathway I have enjoyed and achieved to other aspiring ski instructors. I have had the pleasure of teaching skiing in Courmayeur in Italy; Verbier in Switzerland; and Megève, Chamonix, Val d’Isère, Tignes, Courchevel and Méribel in France; not forgetting Treble Cone in New Zealand. My future ski teaching goals and aspirations are to continue to develop as a trainer and deliver technical and teaching courses to all four levels. I would also like to gain more experience and qualifications within other systems – Swiss/NZ.

I passed my BASI Levels 1 and 2 in 2010 and then succeeded in passing all the modules of BASI Level 3 over the next couple of winters, in 2012 and 2013. I have already taught skiing in Italy in three beautiful resorts: Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile. I don’t think I will progress any further through the BASI system beyond my ISIA Level 3, but who knows what the future holds!

(Snoworks GAP 2009)

The whole experience of passing through the system with the opportunities to travel to so many places along the way is amazing, and I thank Snoworks GAP for starting and supporting me on that journey.

(Snoworks GAP 2010)

Isla Marsh

(Snoworks GAP 2012) I started my BASI pathway in December 2011, passing my BASI Level 1 in December 2011 and then BASI Level 2 in December 2012. I then achieved my BASI Level 3 in April 2014, and finally I passed the infamous Eurotest (giant slalom timed exam) in March 2015. I have been lucky enough to have already taught skiing in Japan, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany and Australia. My future BASI pathway goals are to pass the rest of the BASI Level 4 by the end of winter season 2015/16, and I would like to look into becoming a BASI trainer.

So when it’s time to make those big decisions, don’t discount becoming a ski instructor as a fantastic, healthy and rewarding career choice, or at least as your gap year, and then who knows what might happen!

Joe Cutler

(Snoworks GAP 2014) I started my BASI exams in October 2014, passing BASI Levels 1 and 2 in November and December of that year. I am doing my common theory and UKCP Level 1 in the next few weeks and then will continue my training with Snoworks GAP towards my Level 3 teaching and technical exams which I have booked for November 2015. So far I’ve taught skiing in Niseko, Japan, and this year I have a job at The Hermitage Club in Vermont, USA. I then hope to go to New Zealand or South America next summer. My future ski goals are to go all the way to BASI Level 4 and run my own ski school: that’s the dream!

Alice Hugo

(Snoworks GAP 2011) I passed my BASI Levels 1 and 2 in 2011 and then passed my BASI Level 3 technical in 2015. I have enjoyed teaching skiing already in Sölden and Axamer Lizum in Austria, Saas-Fee in Switzerland, have done two seasons in Grindelwald and Wengen, and am returning this winter for my third! My future goals are to keep going through the whole system and to try and finish the ISIA this year and then to start race training towards the Level 4 exams. This last season has made me realise how much I really love the sport and how much I want to try and smash through everything. Both my pre-season training and the training week before the technical exam in April with Snoworks GAP really helped, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do either again.



This 3 week course in Hintertux, Austria trains and qualifies you as an Antwärter (Austrian level 1). The course then comes with a guaranteed job* in St Anton, Austria.

*See website for further details.

Guaranteed Job*


Train and Qualify before Christmas to BASI 1 and 2 This 8 week course is held on the snow sure glacier of Tignes (first 6 weeks) and Courchevel (final 2 weeks), France. Beginning from late October through to December - you can be qualified and ready to work by Christmas!

SKI INSTRUCTOR BY CHRISTMAS! UK 0844 543 0503 International +44 870 122 5549 EMAIL

Guy Coles - New Generation Ski School


’d worked in the City as a lawyer for nearly 10 years before deciding to make the leap into a whole new career, to do something I really love: ski instructing! Becoming a ski instructor seemed daunting at first, but the residential courses made perfect sense. They included everything needed to qualify as an instructor in as short a time period as possible: 270 hours of training, British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) Levels 1 and 2 exams, first-aid course, lift pass and accommodation all wrapped up in a 10-week package. More importantly for me, New Generation runs a gap course in Verbier, Switzerland, from December to early February. While this meant being away from home over Christmas, it had the advantage of allowing me to qualify before the February half-term holidays and to work the second half of the season, gaining experience straight after qualifying and earning money too. The course went really well. There were fantastic highs, with new skills being learnt, memorable powder days and a huge sense of achievement as we all improved; and there were occasional lows too, such as the odd day when things just wouldn’t click. But alongside the fantastic coaching we received, we had loads of support from the rest of the Verbier team. This is where New Generation’s Level 4 training team is based, and a lot of the


Verbier instructors are working towards their Level 4 International Ski Teacher Diploma (ISTD) stamp, so advice, encouragement and empathy were never in short supply. When we passed our Level 1 and Level 2 exams (with a 100% success rate in both), the whole team came out to celebrate. Following the gap course, all of us went on to work the remainder of the season. For some, New Generation helped to secure jobs with Interski in Italy, while two of us went to the neighbouring resort of Nendaz to work with a partner ski school. Just seven days after passing my Level 2 exam, I was shepherding 10 very excited children from various countries onto the gondola and teaching my first lesson! I was also able to continue training towards Level 3 when I wasn’t working, so my skiing continued to improve. The following season, I was lucky enough to secure a place on New Generation’s work and train programme in Villars. This was a brand new resort for the ski school in 2014/15, so as well as getting first-rate training alongside working as a New Generation instructor, the whole team was involved in promoting the school in resort and developing a client base from scratch – not the kind of experience you typically get as a Level 2!

GOING FULL-TIME The next winter I focused on training for my Eurotest, and after passing this in December I was offered a place teaching with the New Generation Courchevel 1650 team. It was a great opportunity to come back to teach in Courchevel as this is where I had done my first ski season at the age of 18. Having been based in Europe through all of my training and exams, I felt it was the right time to explore while using my qualification. I was offered the position of Snow School Assistant Director of the ski school in a small resort in British Columbia in Canada. This gave me an opportunity to learn some new skills, and part of this was training the instructor team.

DECIDING THAT THIS WAS NOT A “GAP YEAR” After having successfully completed the Alpine Level 2 exam, I was hooked, and having trained with instructors who had made a career from snowsports I was keen to press on and start ticking off the modules that comprise the Alpine Level 3 International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) qualification. Having started skiing at a later stage than many of my friends who had become instructors, I felt that any additional help and training that I could get towards passing the technical module of this level would be beneficial. This led me on to signing up for the 10-week ISIA training that New Generation offer in Courchevel. Although the jump from Level 2 to Level 3 seemed large at the beginning, it began to feel like less of a worry down to the specific and varied training that we were offered over the 10 weeks. Right from the start it was made very clear that we would be covering everything that could be put to us during the technical exam, as well as helping out with the teaching side, running on-snow seminars to give us a greater understanding of what tools we could use while teaching. I was very lucky to be part of a highly motivated group who have all continued on along the same pathway as myself. We went on to sit exams at the end of the season, coming out the other end with the technical and teaching modules completed.

Having been a part of New Generation for the two seasons previous, it seemed like the obvious decision to apply to work with them in Verbier. Verbier was the first resort that New Generation set up in Switzerland. It is run by Manager Tom Waddington, who is also a BASI trainer. I was a part of the training team, training through the season in preparation for the Level 4 technical exam. It’s a tough but fun process, with your skiing being stripped right back to the basics, in order to build it back together to achieve the level of skiing required to pass. The training is split into blocks throughout the season, training in the quieter weeks and working through the busy periods in resort. Working with New Generation in Verbier has given me a greater understanding of the ski industry as a whole. We are constantly given the opportunity to help the company progress, whether it be bouncing new ideas back and forward or creating video diaries of what we’ve been up to on our days off and skiing with many of the seasonaires who work for the various holiday companies in resort. Written by Hugh Jolly – BASI ISIA Level 3 Instructor

The following season I returned to France and was offered the position of Gap Course Mentor with New Generation in Courchevel (the course I started my career on four years earlier). I love this part of my job as you can really develop someone’s skiing over the 10 weeks that they are with you and see the huge changes they are able to make. It’s rewarding when students pass their Level 2 and decide they want to continue and make ski instructing a career. I have watched some of my first students come all the way through the system with New Generation, and they have now become my work colleagues. Written by David Barnett – BASI ISTD Level 4 Instructor

BEYOND INSTRUCTING Seven years ago when I started my gap course it was just that: a year out, a break from reality. After many attempts at a real job, I decided to focus on skiing and finding a way to make a living doing the thing I loved. I am now a BASI trainer and examine the next generation of ski instructors. In addition to that I work for New Generation all year as the Swiss Area Manager. The only way to do great work is to do what you love. When you do great work, people are willing to pay you to do it. Written by Tom Waddington – BASI Trainer




e deliver our unique family heritage and ski experience from our ski shop in West London and have been giving help and advice to skiers like you for over 50 years!

So what’s all this got to do with equipment? Well, our knowledge and advice on all aspects of skiing and snowboarding come directly from our passion and experiences within the world of snowsports.

From our years of experience, having been holiday skiers, racers, coaches and instructors, we can definitely attest to the fact that ski racing delivers amazing life experiences and skills that you can’t learn in a classroom – from the travel to foreign places and the learning of different languages and cultures, to the interaction with younger and older age groups, including adults, and the ability to push your boundaries, giving you amazing experiences and achievements.

Where to start? Firstly, safety – a helmet and a back protector are the most important items and are now commonplace whether racing or recreational skiing. If you’re buying a race helmet, make sure you buy the correct type for the style of racing you’re embarking on, and if necessary check that it can have a slalom chin guard fitted. Back protectors are important for racing, preventing injuries during a fall. These are now better than ever, with mouldable foam that shapes to your back but goes rigid on impact to dissipate the force.


Once you start getting closer to the gates they’ll begin to fight back, and you’ll leave a session feeling somewhat battered and bruised! To prevent the bruises you need pole guards – plastic fist protectors that screw on the top of your ski poles and allow you to hit the slalom gates out of your way. Leg guards will protect your knees and shins, allowing you to take a more direct and faster line through the slalom gates. Your second area to look at is skis and boots… Ski boots are among the most important parts of skiing, as they are the link between you and your skis. The correct ski boots affect how quick you’ll progress, your ability to perform and your comfort and enjoyment – all making a huge difference to your skiing.

Here are the basics behind how a ski boot should fit: a correctly fitted ski boot should feel similar to a firm handshake. There should be contact all around your foot and leg without any pressure points. Your toes should lightly touch the front of your ski boots when you stand with your knees slightly bent, when you bend your ankle and push forward with your shin into the front of the boot, and your toes should pull back away from the front of the boot. When buying boots for children who are still growing, you can often buy one size bigger and use shims under the footbed to take up excess space. These can be removed as they grow. Children’s boots can often also be traded in against another new pair of boots as they grow, making them much more cost-effective. This also means there are often secondhand options available. Be wary of borrowing other people’s boots; make sure they fit and will not cause injuries. Make sure children skiers are skiing in children’s boots and not borrowed adults’ boots. Adults’ boots are too high up the leg and often too stiff, putting undue pressure on their knees. Custom moulded footbed insoles are a good addition, as they help fill the voids under your arch and cup and hold underneath your foot – this gives you improved control, response and definitely more comfort.

If you’re skiing regularly, your own skis will be the next step to helping you progress. Rental skis are used extensively and are not maintained anywhere near the level that you would look after your own equipment. Choose the right skis suited to your ability level, experience, age and physical strength and you’ll notice a massive improvement.

Ski Bartlett emporium of skiing you may be with us a while – but don’t worry, there is always tea and coffee on tap! We look forward to seeing you and helping you enjoy your skiing.

Sally Bartlett, Ski Bartlett

There is lots of equipment for ski racing, but start simple and add as you go along. Ski maintenance equipment is a good example of this. Look after your skis and your skis will look after you – they will grip and turn easier with sharp edges, and they will run faster with waxed bases. You can start with a basic ski servicing kit and add to it tool by tool as you find you need something…or in our experience, as you find out the secret formula someone else has found that works! Come and visit the shop and you’ll experience for yourself the largest choice of ski race equipment in the UK (and every other aspect of skiing too). When you visit we will help and advise you and guide you through what might otherwise be somewhat confusing! Allow some time to visit, as once you become immersed in the

Professional Winter Sports Photography Prints and Digital Photos Available Online On-site printing available for both indoor and outdoor events within the UK Tel: +44 7734 140 614


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ski weekend?

here are many people I’ve known over the years who’ve caught the ski or snowboard bug and gone off on a few ski holidays during their late teens or early twenties, but then suddenly stopped going.

With increased air links, budget airlines, fast roads, Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel, Europe has gotten smaller, and it is now virtually as easy to pop over to the Alps as it is to take a weekend’s break in the UK.

There are a few factors involved, including financial ones that often involve starting a young family; but another major reason is time. Now this of course is completely understandable. With the fast-paced work culture that we now live in, we are working longer hours and having less time off. Our holiday allowance from our employers is treated as more sacred than a cow in a Hindu temple – and is used wisely.

For example, you can fly out to Geneva from Gatwick in just over an hours' and then it can take less than two hours drive to get to some of the main resorts in the French Alps from the airport. Can you imagine looking out across the runway from the airport lounge, dark grey clouds blanketing the sky and driving rain pounding the tarmac? Then, only within a few hours, breathing in that Alpine air and looking across the snow-covered mountains! The vast ski areas of Les 3 Vallées and Paradiski are also very accessible and easy to get to.

With summer holidays taking centre stage and a contingency plan put in place for any days needed for unpredictable events such as weddings and elaborate, over-the-top stag or hen dos, a ski holiday for some can be lower down the list than they would ideally desire. For most, the perception of a ski holiday is a week-long trip to Europe, or at least 10 days spent across the big pond in Canada or the US. But what about a long weekend?

Spending a long weekend at a ski resort is a quick and affordable way to spend a few days out on the slopes, getting your ski or snowboard fix like an adrenalin needle to the heart. Combine this with a spot of après ski straight off the slopes, and that really describes the perfect weekend. Just a tad better than getting a Saturday night take-out while watching The X-Factor or I’m A Celebrity!

To make the most out of the weekend, you can fly on a Thursday evening and return on Monday, pre-book passes so no hanging around in a long queue at the ski lift pass centre in the morning; just head straight out onto the slopes after breakfast. With the cost of flights being heavily reduced over the last few years, flying has become very accessible for those on a budget. If we go right back to the initial question of why a ski weekend, surely the question should be “Why not?” Even if you have spent a week sliding down the mountain already this season, you do not need to stick to the stigma of only having one ski trip a year. There is no better way to unwind than sneaking off for a cheeky ski weekend to breathe in that mountain air and shred the white stuff. If doctors prescribed a ski or snowboard trip to everyone who was over-stressed, all the shrinks would be out of a job!


A CAREER in snowsports? W

inter seasons are becoming increasingly popular, and there are more training courses and work opportunities available than ever before. It is very easy to be dazzled by the bright lights of Val d’Isère or lured by the glitz of Courchevel; however, it is important that you choose the right training course/job or career path for yourself and consider all your options by doing thorough research before you commit. Having now worked in the snowsports industry for 14 years, I am still saddened and disappointed to see young people in particular joining the wrong type of course, or taking the first available job that they can find and realising either it doesn’t work for them, they don’t get value for money or they get exploited with little pay and skiing time. A winter season should be one of the best experiences of your life, particularly your first one. Some aspects to consider:

Qualifications The qualification you choose to take can be vital, not only to the outcome of your course, but also, depending on your long-term plans, to your future employability. All qualifications are issued by a national governing body. Some of the more popular are listed below: Great Britain – BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) Canada (Ski) – CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance) Canada (Snowboard) CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) New Zealand – NZSIA (New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance) New Zealand – SBINZ (Snowboard Instruction New Zealand) – a subdivision of the NZSIA USA – PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Australia – APSI (Australian Professional Snowsport Instructors)

The lowest qualification in all systems is Level 1. All governing bodies with the exception of BASI permit instructors to work “on-snow” in an open-mountain environment with a Level 1. However, it is likely that you will find yourself working no further than the kindergarten or with very young students, almost always total beginners, as realistically this is what the qualification permits you to teach. The Level 1 is however the easiest to obtain. No “gap” course will offer a higher qualification than a Level 2 as realistically this is the maximum an instructor can expect to achieve in one season. Following Level 2, the next stage in all governing bodies is to achieve ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association) status. There are many more modules in this qualification, and some governing bodies have a “mid-way” level to bridge the gap.


Where can I use these Qualifications? All of the qualifications listed above can be used anywhere in the world, with the exception of France. The French have set the highest standard in skiing (beyond ISIA) as being the only level acceptable in order to legally teach in their resorts. Other nations may have restrictions on the number of weeks that you can work. Not being able to teach in France is not, however, the end of the world. There are plenty of other nations looking for snowsports instructors, particularly those that attract a large number of British tourists: Italy, Switzerland, Austria, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, to name but a few. I believe that BASI’s coverage of the teaching and group management elements, as well as customer care, is excellent and more focused than in other qualifications. As a general rule, I think this is widely recognised as the trend among snowsports employers. The NZSIA

Any McIntosh, Snowsports Training Manager for Interski

qualification is not too far behind, followed by the Canadian system. This is, of course, my opinion, and there is no official rating scale or employment statistics among snowsports schools to measure this by.

How to gain a Qualification There are various ways to gain snowsports instructor qualifications, one of the most popular being the intensive “gap” courses. These range from four to 10 weeks so are not really a gap “year”; however, it is what you do once you acquire the qualification that can determine whether it turns into a year or not! For reasonably competent recreational skiers, confident on red runs and with six to 10 weeks’ experience, these intensive courses are achievable and are certainly good fun. The prolonged period of time spent in a ski resort can certainly open your eyes to life in the ski industry. It can enable you to meet and network with like-minded people, connect with snowsports schools and gain future work placements as there is no better place to be than out in the mountains. These courses are booked through independent companies who have forged links with governing bodies’ instructor training courses.


of this can mean that you are then ready to begin the Northern Hemisphere ski season with a qualification already under your belt. Similarly, if you are not planning on taking a gap year and are looking at doing something in your summer holidays between leaving school or college and progressing on to university, then a course like this is ideal.

Value for Money / Inclusions A deciding factor for some of us is the cost of the course and ensuring that you get value for money. A gap course is not cheap, however; the price band is vast with courses costing from around £5,999 or less to £9,000 or more! There are, of course, some very obvious factors that will influence the price, for example the length of the course. Location is normally the biggest factor; more exclusive, commercially renowned resorts are generally more expensive as normally the cost of living there is higher.

The inclusions that are important are those that would involve extra cost to you: •

Some people just want to get as far away from home as possible, and the more exotic the better; this is where locations like Canada, Argentina and New Zealand can become appealing. The latter are obviously in the Southern Hemisphere and run their ski season during the UK summer. The benefits

• •

Travel: for courses outside of the Alps, long-haul flights are very expensive, and additional baggage on any flights is also costly. Insurance: some courses include this and some do not. Lunch: again, included in some courses and not in others.

Evening meals: this is a good subject to research. Some courses have chalet or hotel accommodation where the restaurant will close for one or two nights a week and you will be expected to fend for yourself.

Insurance A vital part of your course, do not leave home without it! Not only is it imperative that you have comprehensive winter sports insurance but also that you have insurance to cover your course. The most important thing is that you have good medical cover; being the sport that it is, accidents do happen when skiing, so it is reassuring to know that you will be looked after in all scenarios, in particular, helicopter rescue and repatriation.

Employment Opportunities Post Course For those wanting to make the most of their ski season and also start using their qualification, the potential employment opportunities at the end of the course (should you be successful) are possibly the most vital and important part of your course selection process. Many snowsport schools will want to employ as many course trainees as possible, however this can mean spreading out the teaching hours. If you have to pay for your own accommodation, food etc and only end up teaching for a limited number of hours, you could end up being quite out of pocket. It is therefore really worth investigating this. My advice would be to look for a gap year provider who can offer work after the course has been completed.


INTERVIEW WITH Pete Gillespie Head of Snowsports at The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead


ete heads up the team and the products delivered, supported by his senior snowsport coaches. Together they shape the products and make sure the team are delivering a high-quality experience. They do this through constantly reviewing what they do, training regularly and staying on top of their game. The Centre’s philosophy is to keep their guests at the centre of everything they do.

How did you get involved in snowsports and what is your role? Originally there was a dry ski slope on the Hemel site, and as a child I would train on the slope. My mum’s side of the family are Austrian, so skiing and mountains formed part of our lives. However, the reality was, apart from the occasional trip to the Alps, my skiing fix would be satisfied by training on the dry ski slope. From the age of 14 years, I probably skied five days out of seven on the mat. It was a real passion for me, so much so that my PE teacher at school told me to not bother turning up to sports lessons and just report to the ski centre. Following school, I pursued a career as a professional ski instructor/coach in the Alps, gaining valuable experience and qualifications, always maintaining my link with Hemel dry ski slope. In 2007 the then owner told me of his grand plan to convert the dry slope into a snow centre! This was just the project I felt I was ready for and presented a new challenge following many seasons in the Alps. I’m still here and enjoying every minute!


How do you see children fitting into what is offered by the Centre? Absolutely key in our philosophy and plans to grow the business is to redefine snowsports in the UK. As a centre we aim to be the HUB of British snowsports, whether that be grass-roots participation or elite levels of performance. I watch skiers, who we taught to ski six years ago as young children, who are now high-level performers. The next generation of snowsports enthusiasts will grow from the group of young and regular users. I believe 100% that Great Britain will see future champions on the world stage who have developed through these centres. It may be in alpine skiing (racing or freestyle) or snowboarding, but it will come. There is so much talent currently being developed and inspired through these centres. Our junior programme begins with an introduction for total beginners. It’s important to get it right at this level to maintain an interest from the youngsters. Some of our instructors are extremely talented, getting the basic foundations in place and inspiring kids. As the youngsters move through our level system, we have created coaching pathways with a focus on building solid fundamental skiing skills. This is so apparent with our Alpine cousins, who build skiers first and performers second. I am a real believer in giving children a multitude of skills, whether it be the ability to do some freestyle, ski more varied terrain or ski basic courses and so on. Teach them to ski first and the excellence in performance will follow.

Many of the coaches who work on our coaching programme are full-time professionals with years of experience. They live and breathe snowsports! I can say we have one of the most experienced and qualified coaching teams you will find anywhere in the country. We also work extensively with specialist and expert organisations such as BISS to enhance and widen what we can deliver to customers.

Is it all just fun? The key to excellence is passion and that starts with FUN. If the children are not enjoying it, then what’s the point! For older children/young adults we have created pathways to becoming an instructor. This can be a very rewarding hobby, and for some it may turn into a professional career (I am an example of that).

The future? We are constantly shaping our products and programmes to match the needs of our guests. We recognise that more and more people are using The Snow Centre as part of their lifestyle. It is no longer a once-a-year vacation. Snowsports are available 364 days of the year. I see our model in some respects mirroring the European or Alpine model where participation in snowsports is quite normal and open to everyone, not elitist. We want to create an environment where participation is regular and the snowsports challenges ever evolving. I believe we work with a very talented and committed pool of instructors, coaches and organisations who all share the same passion. I would like to see this model rolled out in more locations, giving greater access to snowsports for all!






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Dan Gillespie

INDOORS & OUT Still Hungry

Dan Gillespie is a BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) Level 3 Ski Coach that splits his time, coaching children and adults alike, between The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead and instructing in the Alps in Austria and Switzerland. We caught up with him at The Snow Centre.

So Dan, where and when did you first ski?

So where did you go and work?

My first experience was on the old dry slope here at Hemel when I was about four years old before going on a family ski holiday to Seefeld in Austria.

Well I have mainly worked in Austria and Switzerland. My first three seasons were in Mayrhofen which, as a younger lad, were so much fun but probably best not to go into that too deeply. I have also done the last two seasons in Hoch-Ybrig in Switzerland, which is a great resort. As well, I do a fair bit of coaching on specialist courses in Hintertux in Austria. When not in the mountains, I do a lot of work here at The Snow Centre.

Was it something you fell in love with straight away? Not really, I enjoyed it but I think it was more a fun thing to do on holiday. I certainly wasn’t like some of the young kids we see here at The Snow Centre week in, week out, who really have a passion for it.

So you didn’t ski often in your childhood? My father worked in the mountains so we would go out and see him and I would do ski school. That being said, I didn’t ski at all in my early teens; football was far more fun at the time.

How did you end up as a ski coach then? In Sixth Form I did a BTEC in Sports Coaching and then after school I decided an office wasn’t for me. By then I had really developed a love of skiing, so I decided to combine my skills and go into the ski industry.

Was your first job being an instructor? My first job was actually working in ski rentals at Hemel dry ski slope on weekends.

Did you go straight from school to being an instructor? In a way, but I had to get certain qualifications before I could start teaching. At 18 I did the equivalent of my BASI Level 1, which allowed me to get a job at Milton Keynes SnoZone. Then at 21, I passed my Level 2, which allowed me to go out and teach in the mountains, followed by my Level 3 when I was 23.


Is it just skiing? Skiing and snowboarding, you have to have multiple disciplines for moving up through the BASI levels. However, skiing is my love. I coach skiing and freestyle along with a bit of snowboarding. I have done a bit of race training too. I suppose I would class myself as an all-rounder.

What’s the best thing about what you do? I love teaching kids. They tend to be looser both mentally and physically, if that makes sense, and they are always really eager to learn. Their smiles when they get it give me a real sense of achievement; it is very rewarding. Also I get to ski day in, day out. It’s great fun and you get a real diversity in the job. Money can be good too, especially in the mountains.

Diversity, like what? Just last week, myself and a colleague, Tom, were models for the new Aldi skiwear range and will be appearing on TV in their advert.

Finally, the future? After a couple of years of enjoying myself I am hungry to get the BASI Level 4. It’s their top level and it’s not easy, but I believe with some hard work and determination I can get to the best coaching level there is.

Thanks Dan, that’s very insightful, best of luck with everything.


Winter Games A

s well as endorsing numerous schools’ snowsports events, the NSSA will be behind the first British Schools Winter Games taking place during many schools’ Easter break in 2017. This promises to be a great event with training held in the early part of the week and several race and freestyle competitions being held over the last three days.

The NSSA are engaging the services of experienced school-training organisation BISS Racing to run this event in their home resort base of Pila, Italy. Working with experienced coaches for both race and freestyle under Programme Director Phil Brown, a former national children’s team head coach, will ensure that the training and competitions are well run.

Being held in a school holiday will, hopefully, mean the event is more accessible than some of the other school events which are held during term time.

The event will be available as entry only or as a package with our travel partner, to include travel, accommodation, lift passes and training, and all standards will be welcome. So if racing or freestyle is something your school’s skiers would like to try, feel free to join us. We will also be working with UK-based trainers for anyone wanting to train before the event.

The event is open to all schools and entry opens in September 2016, closing on 17 March 2017. This closing date may be brought forward, should the event become full earlier.

For further information, or to enquire about entry, training packages or accommodation, please contact For accommodation enquiries, please contact



his year saw a record entry rate to the Welsh Schools’ Championships at Llangrannog Ski Centre, proving that skiing truly is becoming a national Welsh sport. There have also been new schools coming to the forefront of the Championships with West Wales school Bro Myrddin’s boys team topping the podium for the very first time.

increased activity we have seen in both local schools events and club membership. It also reflects an increase in schools sport participation as identified by Sport Wales in their report released last month. On a personal note it’s really wonderful to see so many enthusiastic and talented children enjoying the amazing sport of skiing!”

And it’s not just the Welsh comprehensive schools proving their worth; this year primary schools made up a third of the massive entry. Based on their results we’re really excited to see how they develop in the sport of skiing – we foresee a big increase in the amount of Welsh Race Team members! When asked about the record level of entries for this year's Welsh Schools’ Champs, Snowsport Wales’ CEO, Robin Kellen, said: “We’re delighted to see the increase of participation in our events, which is indicative of the

The Welsh Schools’ Champs is held every year at Llangrannog Ski Slope, and with great facilities like Llangrannog and race entries like this year's school results the future is looking blue-bird bright for Welsh skiing! If you’d like to get more involved in Welsh skiing then you can find your local slope by looking on the Go Ski Go Board website and typing in your postcode. All the individual slope information and websites are listed on the site, along with information on lessons, courses and special offers – it’s


never been easier to give skiing a try for the very first time! Lots of slopes also offer school-specific lessons that can become part of the PE curriculum and count towards exams, so becoming part of a school ski team can also be academically beneficial – it’s a win-win! If you, or your school, are interested in snowsports at all, you can contact Snowsport Wales via their website, The National Schools Snowsports Association or an NSSA-affiliated specialist schools snowsports company such as BISS Racing or RAW Snowsports. You can then begin your school's journey into snowsports, whether it be racing, freestyle or just dipping a toe in the water to see if pupils enjoy skiing or boarding for the first time. Many schools' programmes have been started by a keen parent and then, once running, the school are keen to take it on.

Snowsport England SNOWSPORTS Article ENGLAND National Schools Snowsport Week

Monday 24th April – Sunday 30th April 2017

Schools snowsports? Why not?


s well as being a great recreational activity, skiing is also a serious sport. It uses different techniques from ball games, but demands many of the same skills – balance, coordination, agility, strength and fitness, not to mention a disciplined attitude and mental courage. Organised by Snowsport England, National Schools Snowsports Week 2017 is supported by FIS (the International Ski Federation) Snowkidz initiative, local regions, clubs and specific schools organisations such as the NSSA and BISS Racing and is a chance for schools to give pupils a taste of snowsports – skiing, boarding and Nordic.

Facilities and clubs across the country will offer sessions throughout the week. Schools can book for a single session on one discipline or sign up for a day of varied activities. Qualified coaches and instructors will run all sessions. The full programme will be published on the Snowsport England website or just contact your local facility or club for details of sessions in your area. The aim of the week is to introduce children to skiing, boarding and Nordic and ultimately encourage more experienced skiers and boarders to train and compete in the UK and the Alps. The National Schools Snowsport

Week comes at the start of the summer season when schools can put together a squad and enter schools races and competitions. In fact, the week sees a race event running for the ISA which will be open to all schools from the end of February. For further information on the week's activities please contact Victoria.crampton@ For further information on schools ski racing, please contact association@ or

For some, it will be their first time on skis. For others, it will be a chance to try racing, freestyle or ski cross. It is certainly for all; it will be an enriching experience, which combines physical strength with fine skills of balance and agility.



0330 363 0033 0330 363 0033 NSSA 42



Challenge T

he Interschool Challenge is one of the most well-established alpine race events for schools, with individuals representing their school also catered for. The event has been running successfully in the Chamonix Valley for a number of years, using the great resort of Les Houches. The event usually sees in excess of 300 children racing over two days with three events per day. The events are usually split between the younger racers (U10 and U12), and then the two sets of older age groups (U14 then U16 and above) racing separately. Run by the British Ski Academy and endorsed by the NSSA, the races see most children arrive on Friday evening to train with various groups over the weekend, competing on Monday and Tuesday. Many groups leave on Tuesday evening, with others attending the prizegiving ceremony and leaving the next morning depending on time allowed away from school.

Malcolm Erskine, Head of the British Ski Academy, says of the event: “We love holding these races for British schoolchildren, seeing so many kids trying racing for the first time, through to members of national teams with their school building a team around them. Schools events like this are all about the children having fun but will, perhaps, help feed more athletes into the sport at a higher level.� This coming season, 2017, the event is moving just through the Mont Blanc tunnel to the Italian resort of Pila, in the Aosta Valley. This resort has a great affinity with ski racing, and the event looks like it will continue with its success. For anyone interested in the event itself, please contact For accommodation queries in Pila for the event, please contact


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s an ex-racer, Dan Humphreys has been lucky enough to travel the world to train and race in many different locations, something that has fed his love of travelling. In 2005 the man that was his coach, and has been involved in all levels of skiing both nationally and internationally, had an accident that left him with a spinal cord injury. Over the years since then, Dan and his mother have tried to support his dad as he comes to terms with his new situation, experiencing the highs and lows together. Around a year ago, Dan decided that he would try to use his personal experiences to help others, by targeting one particular frustration that the family have encountered: the issue of accessible hotel accommodation. Dan says, “Like many of you, this was an issue I was completely unaware of as an able-bodied individual; however, life changed. I am now acutely aware that this problem is a major factor in stopping many disabled people from travelling and experiencing the world as I have been lucky enough to do.

“The difficulties in finding accessible accommodation are that there is no central information source to help in the search, and often the information provided by hoteliers is inadequate and frequently wrong. One example is the hotel that stated it had an accessible room, with appropriate bathroom; however, when we got there, we were informed that all the handrails in the bathroom had been removed because ‘it looked better without them’, which ensured there was no accessible toilet available. I can provide numerous other examples like this, which is why so many with disabilities find it best to not leave the comfort of their own home.” As no one was offering a solution, Dan has chosen to do this himself, and is the result. allows users to rate a hotel’s accessibility across six categories: • • • • • •

Hotel Access Room Usability Toilet Facilities Washing Facilities Hotel Facilities Fire Exit

Dan says, “Importantly, I have seen that one size does not fit all when looking at accessibility, so each area can be rated from one to five, an increasing scale of accessible adaptions available, starting with one being ‘no additional considerations for disabled persons’. This should allow the website to be useful for people with a wide range of mobility issues (from walking stick to electric wheelchair and carer). Therefore, this is a tool for all with mobility issues, including elderly and disabled people.”

Visit or to have a look for yourself and, most importantly, share it with anyone you believe it can help … Together We Can Make A Difference!


BRITISH SCHOOLBOYS' AND SCHOOLGIRLS' RACES The British Schoolgirls’ Races have run in the resort of Flaine, France, for many years, with the Ladies’ Ski Club organising the event each year.

This event runs on the same dates as the British Schoolgirls’ Races each year. The venue for the races in 2017 will be Wengen, Switzerland.

Open to teams of three, most schools take one or two teams with four, which allows for a reserve racer in case of any problems.

Run by the Downhill Only Ski Club (DHO), this event allows individuals to enter as well as school teams and, as with the schoolgirls, sees entrants with a vast array of abilities and experience taking part.

The event runs on a Monday and Tuesday with most schools choosing to arrive on Friday or Saturday for training. Monday usually sees a giant slalom race, followed by an exciting parallel (head-to-head) race for the teams. On Monday the slalom race takes place with a prize-giving ceremony in the evening. With a great range of abilities taking part, from experienced racers to those trying racing for the first time, there are prizes for unregistered racers and also for teams who do not race in full racing kit (catsuits) to highlight the participation element of the event, introducing children to the sport.


Races here also include both slalom and giant slalom, with a parallel (head-to-head) event usually taking part one evening under floodlights.

For further information on the Schoolgirls’ event, or to enter, contact For information on the Schoolboys’ event, or to enter, contact For information on training and race support at either event, contact



2016/17 Schools Ski Racing

CALENDAR OF EVENTS SEPTEMBER Schools Indoor Training and Selection Days The Snowcentre, Hemel Hempstead 26th British Independent Schools Ski Racing Southern Indoor Championships The Snowcentre, Hemel Hempstead

OCTOBER 26th British Independent Schools Ski Racing Northern Indoor Championships Chill Factore, Manchester 17th – 31st British Independent Schools Ski Racing Glacier Training Camps Tignes, France



25th – 26th British Schoolgirls’ Races Flaine, France

13th – 20th British Independent Schools Ski Racing Camp Pila, Italy

25th – 26th British Schoolboys Races Wengen, Switzerland

APRIL 25th ISA (Independent Schools Association) Indoor Championships The Snowcentre, Hemel Hempstead

29th – 1st Mar British Independent Schools Ski Racing Alpine Championships Pila, Italy


DECEMBER ISSSC Races Les Deux Alpes, France

MARCH 7th – 8th Interschools Challenge Les Houches, France 10th – 11th Aiglon College Cup Villars, Switzerland 26th – 2nd Apr British Independent Schools Ski Racing Camp Pila, Italy

LATE AUGUST Schools Indoor Training and Selection Days The Snowcentre, Hemel Hempstead

British Independent Schools Ski Racing Glacier Training Camps Tignes, France Training for all of the above events can be booked and organised with BISS Racing. Contact

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