Into The Wild: Why should people learn to become a ski instructor rather than work in hospitality or on a ski lift for a season?
James: Working as a ski instructor has many benefits over any other job. You get to experience the mountain in all conditions, whether it is beautiful sunny weather or bucketing down with snow it is always different. You get to meet loads of new people and help them become better skiers and often tackle major obstacles with them. This can be massively rewarding and huge amounts of fun at the same time. Life is fast and ever changing as a ski instructor.
Into The Wild: What’s the best thing about doing a ski season?
James: The best thing about doing a ski season firstly is the snow and 6 months of skiing! Secondly, it is being surrounded by like-minded people who have all come together for a love of skiing. Whether they are on holiday or working for the season everyone has the same thing in common and that is a really unique experience.
Into The Wild: What made you want to become a ski instructor?
James: Mainly for my love of skiing but also because I love working in the outdoors with people.
Into The Wild: Where did you gain your qualifications and what did the training involve?
James: I gained my qualifications in a variety of places, Tignes, Zermatt, La Grave, Alpes D’huez. The training involved hard work, determination and the desire to really improve my skiing. The rest was great fun and a time in which I have made friends for life.
Into The Wild: What advice would you give anyone thinking of becoming a ski instructor?
James: Do it! It was the best decision I have ever made and I only wish I had chosen to do it earlier!!!
Into The Wild: How can gaining a ski instructor qualification benefit you even if you don’t plan to practice as an instructor full time?
James: Doing any level of ski instructor qualification gives you such an understanding of the fundamentals that make up good effective skiing that it will improve your own skiing more than simply doing any old course. It will enable you to impart your knowledge better to others, which can help outside the skiing arena. It will give you a better understanding of others’ needs.
Into The Wild: What would your alternative career choice have been?
James: I had planned to join the army but if I went back now I would still choose to become a ski instructor.
Into The Wild: What’s the best thing Frontier’s Tignes project has to offer?
James: The fact that it is in Tignes, one of the best ski areas in the world, has got to be high up there on the list. But I would say that it is the best value for money course on the market where everything is included, offering the highest quality out there.
Into The Wild: How long does the instructors course last?
James: 10 weeks.
Into The Wild: You’ve worked seasons in Val’d’Isère, Nendaz, and Zermatt, what sets Tignes apart from these other resorts?
James: It is a really friendly and relaxed environment, where everybody is a keen skier. The terrain is second to none and it has some of the most reliable snow records in Europe. There is great nightlife and hardly any travelling to do in town…it is all right there.
Into The Wild: What’s the weather like in Tignes?
James: The weather is usually big storms (bringing snow) followed by crystal clear cold days to perfect those goggle tans!
Into The Wild: Are there any towns or cities nearby to explore in your free-time?
James: The nearest towns are Val d’Isere which you can ski over to in about 20 minutes. There are also other ski resorts down the valley, the likes of Les Arc, La Plange, St Foy. The town at the bottom of the Valley is called Bourg St Maurice.
Into The Wild: Where do you dream of skiing next?
James: Anywhere that I can be dropped off by a helicopter and then ski bottomless powder snow all the way to the bottom!
Into The Wild: Finally we love to find out what’s on people’s bucket list. Tell us your top 3.
1. Raft down the Grand Canyon
2. Run a Marathon
3. To see the next ice age where the glaciers stop retreating and in fact grow (unlikely but you have to dream!)
Questions by Maria Sowter
To find out more information about Frontier’s Tignes Ski Instructor Course, as well as other opportunities for adventure travel and volunteering abroad, please visit the Frontier website.