Ski Instructor Training in Tignes: Où est le soleil?

Ski Club of Great Britain member Tessa Regan is in Tignes for a ‘gap-year’ – saying goodbye to city life and hello to sun, snow and seasonnaires… better late than never!

Constant snow makes learning to become a ski instructor tricky!

Off-piste instruction

Off-piste instruction

Greetings from Tignes, where I am now 6 weeks into my 10-week Gapski ski instructor training course. In the last 2 weeks we have been continuing our training both on and off-piste and learning to become competent and confident skiers in all conditions and on all types of terrain. This has been particularly testing as we have had a very long run of snowy days with bad visibility – great news for the snow depth and quality, but very difficult for us poor trainee ski instructors trying to improve our skiing. Personally, as soon as the visibility goes I start sitting back on my skis and skiing defensively. ‘Don’t try to see, just feel the contours of the slope with your skis’ says our instructor. Sound advice and I only wish I could programme my head to think that way, but I have certainly not been feeling the love as I try to ski a bump field that I can’t see. However, this is an aspect of our skiing that we all need to overcome and hopefully I will get there in the end. It has certainly made us appreciate the few sunny periods that we have had and has probably made us ski better too.

Enjoying the powder

Enjoying the powder

This week my husband came to visit and has been helping me on our ski practice days. He arrived during one of our video analysis sessions, so was able to see for himself exactly which areas of my skiing I need to improve. In particular I need to work on skiing more aggressively straight down the fall line when off-piste, especially in the crud or on bumps, so my hubby has been helping me by shouting ‘turn!’ at very rapid intervals, to stop me from meandering across the slope in between turns. Personally I think he has just been enjoying the unfamiliar feeling of having me do what he tells me!

So only 2 weeks of training left (eek!) until we begin our BASI Level 2 assessment and we are all anxiously wondering whether we will make the grade. Last night we had an impromptu party in the Big Brother house, for no particular reason other than the fact that we have all been working very hard and probably needed to let our hair down a bit, but a good time was had by all – for me it was just like being a student again! Back to work tomorrow though, as our quest for BASI Level 2 continues…

Tessa Regan

Snow Swappers is a holiday swapping service for people that own property in ski resorts around the world. Membership is free of charge for the first year and there are chalets and apartments available to swap now in both Europe and North America.


Frontier is launching a fantastic new Ski Instructor Course at the world famous Tignes resort in the French Alps. Today we speak to James Stewart-Hunter, an instructor at the resort, who tells us all about this amazing opportunity and why Tignes is the place to be to learn your trade as an instructor.

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.

Gap Ski instructor training

Starting January 2011

In association with the development centre, Tignes and Val d’Isere

Gap Ski is a new 10 week ski instructor training programme based in Tignes, part of the Espace Killy, one of the greatest ski areas in the world. Whether you are looking for an international qualification for a career in the ski industry or simply a way to maximise your skiing potential whilst doing a season, the Gap Ski programme is the most comprehensive and effective ski training programme out there.

Gap Ski offers the most effective and best value for money gap programme possible. The course is designed to train students up to and through their BASI level 2. The course includes all BASI fees including level 1 and 2, the child protection module, first aid course and all the required shadowing hours. Basically, everything is included, no hidden costs, no extra charges, it’s all in there.
Gap Ski training is provided in association with the development centre who boast six BASI examiners within their ranks. All training is with BASI examiners and fully qualified ISTD’s.  Check out below to see why this gap course is a cut above the rest….

  • 10 week all inclusive course taking you right through to and including BASI level 2
  • BASI level 1, 2, first aid course and child protection fees all included
  • Pair of high performance Head skis, perfect for your exams
  • Collection and drop off from Geneva airport
  • Fully catered HOTEL accommodation. 3 meals a day including hot mountain restaurant lunch 7 days a week.
  • Train 5 days a week, enjoy your accommodation, lift pass and food 7 days a week
  • Work opportunities in Italy on successful completion of BASI level 2.
  • Full season lift pass – you can ski before, during and after the course for no extra cost.
  • Nightly workshops including video analysis, ski tuning, fitness and more.
  • Free soft goods
  • All for £7495

These are just some of the benefits of Gap Ski, others include freeride, park and avalanche awareness sessions. There are also opportunities to learn ski tuning and maintenance, lesson planning, group management and so much more. These are all included in the stated price – there are no hidden fees

Gap Ski, in association with the development centre, invites you to take advantage of the best training in the Alps. Simply take your skiing to a new level or kick start your career in snowsports.

contact us now
contact us now

For more information contact Ben Harris at [email protected] or on
+33 (0)6 14 28 54 26
+44(0) 7967 330 187