The International Ski Instructors Association, better known by the acronym ISIA, is the world body for professional ski instructors. The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 37 member nations with a focus on consistent qualifications and recognition for the profession.
The organisation is under the Interski umbrella and at the agreed certification level, member nations provide their instructors with the coveted ISIA Stamp, signifying a fully certified level of instruction widely recognised around the world’s alpine nations.
ISIA meetings of member nations are generally held in Europe in the Northern Hemisphere summer, however in an unusual departure from tradition, in August 1985 the NZSIA hosted 47 delegates for their meeting in New Zealand. The initial proposal for New Zealand hosting the meeting was made four years earlier in Colorado at the venue for that year’s meeting, by Scott Callaway (NZSIA Executive Director) and John Armstrong (Technical Director).
For the NZSIA, an organisation not yet 15 years in existence, this was quite a coup. The significance of hosting some of the ski instruction world’s most senior and influential figures in New Zealand was not lost on Mount Cook Airlines and Air New Zealand who provided valuable services to the event.

Overnighting in Christchurch, the group flew on a charter to Mount Cook for lunch and then on to Queenstown for three nights conferencing at the Hyatt (now Copthorne Hotel and Resort).

Some of the era’s leading figures in the ski teaching world made the trip, including:

  • Karl Gamma, who competed in the 1948 Olympic slalom, for decades the chief instructor for the Swiss Federation of Ski Schools and the first president of the International Ski Instructors Association. He authored a skiing handbook published in seven languages.
  • Hubert Fink, who played a pivotal role in shaping the Italian ski technique. As the Technical Director of the Coscuma (Commissione Scuola Maestri), he led Italian instructors to the Interski event in Garmisch in 1971.
  • Legendary BASI stalwart Hazel Bain, for whom a prestigious award is now named and presented each year for outstanding services to ski instruction in the UK.
  • Tim Petrick, a PSIA Demo Team member in 1985, who went on to head up K2 skis and in the resort business, Booth Creek and Silverton Mountain, Colorado.
Scott Callaway, in his role as Executive Director of the NZSIA coordinating much of the logistics, recalls delegates stepping out of the plane at Mount Cook and regarding the surrounding high peaks with appreciative comments recognising that New Zealand does, in fact, have some decent mountains.
Des Peters(NZSIA Secretary), Tony Graham(NZSIA President), Karl Gamma (Switzerland), Hubert Fink (Italy) and Scott Callaway with ISIA delegates in Queenstown, August 1985.
Coronet Peak hosted the group for an on snow day and the NZSIA development Interski team, known as the Junior Demonstration Team, skied with delegates in excellent conditions and rattled off a synchro routine on the Shirt Front to round out the afternoon.

In early – mid ‘80s FIS racing and visiting Northern Hemisphere national team training camps were becoming an established part of the New Zealand winter and thus the ISIA meeting brought another level of international credibility to the flourishing industry.

Here’s link to an article in the Christchurch Press, quoting an ISIA meeting delegate with some advice for the New Zealand snow tourism industry.

ISIA meetings continue to discuss issues of the day, for example taking up the UN initiative “Sport for Climate Action”. It should be noted that currently neither France nor Austria are members due to differing opinions on certification levels.

ISIA meeting delegates and New Zealand hosts on snow at Coronet Peak.