By Toby Wignall
This article is about depth of knowledge and understanding in a range of disciplines to enable
you to make a reasonable income. By doing these, your level of skiing/snowboarding will reach
new heights even faster.
The best advice that I ‘never’ received when I first became a snow sports instructor was “Become
Diversely qualified early in your career”.
This advice would have helped me, and it will help many new instructors in their career path.
The reasons behind being diverse are:
One; it will grow your depth of knowledge and understanding in a range of disciplines in snow
sports from freestyle (park rats) and snowboarding (knuckle draggers) through to a race course
Two; your physical skills will develop across multiply disciplines and
Three; of course grow your pocket, because I’ll be honest here – through my experience in the
snow sports industry it can be hard to make a reasonable income in New Zealand.
I realised this not in my first season but in my 6th season. Because I wasn’t making enough money
to live the life style I wanted. So something had to change. It wasn’t going to be the industry that I
enjoy. So my option was to become more qualified. But that was only in one discipline. And yes
things got better, I was able to make a bit more so I become diverse and so the trend continued
and will continue for me. By attaining qualifications in Adaptive, Snowboarding, Freestyle,
Racing, & Children’s out side of just the normal level 1,2, & 3 has helped to secure a viable
position in my home resort and other resorts around the world.
How many clients turn up and are unsure of what they want to learn? Common answer to our
“what would you like to get out of this session” is “oh just to improve technique”.
By being an instructor that is diverse in qualifications you will be able to teach a broader range
techniques with confidence, allowing your teaching career to grow. By being widely qualified
you will be able to teach the common “family” of Dad (skied all his life, loves going fast), Mum
(Nervous, likes easy blues and enjoys coffee stops), teenage son (I want to learn how to ski in the park), Younger daughter (didn’t enjoy skiing the first time so wants to try snowboarding).
All of a sudden you can now be the “family’s” instructor.
You’ll be able to teach Dad how to carve down a mountain (tight pants) and Mom to make nice
round turns and be comfortable from café to café, to the kids becoming a park rats and knuckle
Therefore enabling your pocket grow because you didn’t just get one session teaching one family
member, you were able to teach four sessions teaching all of the family.
Getting back on track to depth of knowledge and understanding in a range of disciplines will
relate directly back into your own personal level of ability in either skiing or snowboarding. The
more qualifications you attain, you will notice the direct parallels and common grounds through
out all the disciplines. Your adaptability in different terrain will become more efficient (bumps,
trees, steeps, powder, the on and off piste, park features and water injected race courses) and
snow conditions (ice, powder, slush, cookies and hero snow).
As your knowledge and understanding grows this will enable you to know what “ style” is
appropriate to descend every area of the mountain with precision and finesse.
Conclusion: By broadening your knowledge and understanding in a variety of disciplines to
attain qualifications will increase your ability to develop your skills in your own personal
skiing/snowboarding. Also the diversity in your skiing/riding ability and your teaching ability
will increase the chances of you being able to make a reasonable income.