We are excited that you’re thinking about a ski season! We've put together a list of important factors to consider before heading out to the snow. This guide will help you understand what questions you should be asking and what you should plan for to ensure you have an unforgettable experience.
1. What’s your ability?
Most courses typically require a strong intermediate level with at least 3 to 4 weeks on the snow. You'll want to feel comfortable carving on blue and red runs, and beginning to explore black runs. If you're new to skiing or have only been a few times, don't worry! There are great learn-to-ski options available to help you get started.
2. Type of program
When choosing a program, you'll want to consider whether you're interested in an internship or a training program. The main difference between the two is that an internship typically includes a job offer after passing your level 1 exam, while a training program is focused solely on certification. It's important to think about your overall goals and if you are going to work multiple seasons.
3. Do you want to work?
When deciding whether you want to work during your first season, it's important to keep in mind that work levels as a level 1 instructor can vary and may be lower. You may find yourself spending most of your time on the magic carpet. It's important to budget appropriately and plan accordingly to ensure you have enough funds to cover your expenses.Having a level 2 certification at the beginning of the season can increase your work opportunities and allow you to teach on more of the mountain.
4. Where can you work? Visas.
You'll want to check your eligibility based on your citizenship. If you are aged 18 to 31 (and 35 for some), you may have the option to apply for a working holiday visa. This could allow you to both work and travel for a period of 12 to 24 months.
5. Where should you go?
For the Northern Hemisphere (late November to April), you can explore options in Japan, Canada, the US (requires US citizenship), and Switzerland (requires EU/Swiss citizenship). Similarly, for the Southern Hemisphere (June through September), you can consider New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and Argentina. Keep in mind that if you are planning to work, you will need to check for the availability of working holiday visas. However, if you are solely looking for training programs, most options are available regardless of your citizenship.
6. Goals from the season
When considering your options, it may be helpful to ask yourself a few questions. For instance, are you looking to enjoy as much powder as possible in a single season? Perhaps you're considering chasing the snow for a few seasons? Or, maybe you're interested in teaching your friends and family? Alternatively, you may be looking to add some value to your CV. Having a clear plan in mind can help you make the most of your experience.
Skiers can often make do with all-mountain skis. However, if you're headed to a high snowfall or light powder destination like Japan, you may want to consider bringing both pow skis and on-piste carvers. As for snowboarders, an all-mountain board will typically work well no matter where you go.
8. Flights and insurance
Look for flexible change options for your flights, as sometimes plans can change unexpectedly. A travel agent can assist you in finding the best price and can also provide help with any changes you might need. With regards to travel insurance, it's important to ensure you have adequate winter sports coverage and to understand its limitations. (Note: for those considering a Canadian working holiday visa, please keep in mind that you will need coverage for the entirety of your stay in Canada. It's essential to plan ahead, as you only have one chance to secure coverage upon your arrival. Additionally, if you want to activate the full 2-year visa, you must show proof of 2 years of coverage.)
9. Which certifications should you get?
Certifications from New Zealand, Canada, the US, and Britain are widely recognized. A level 1 certification qualifies you to teach beginners, while a level 2 certification enables you to teach at an intermediate level. Consider obtaining a level 2 certification if you're planning on pursuing a second season, as it's the international standard.
10. Options after your season
If you're interested in chasing the winter, it's possible to go back-to-back from the Northern to Southern hemisphere. You can do this for several years, depending on the visas you qualify for. However, it's important to understand the visa application process as some may require you to apply from your home country, while others can be done completely online.
Whew, that can be a lot to think about and don't worry if you feel overwhelmed. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and we can arrange a quick chat to go over any of the finer details. If you decide to consider one of our programs, we'll be here to assist you every step of the way.