The daily life as a ski instructor in Canada

Jonathan Winther
Jonathan Winther February 28, 2019

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Jonathan works as a ski instructor in Canada, at the Sun Peaks ski area located in British Columbia. Here is a breakdown of his everyday life in Canada, to gain some insight into the good life 🙂
Time 07:00 AM – Good morning

It’s Wednesday. My alarm beeps, and the sun peeps in from the window blinds. It is 7 am. I check today’s snow-report, and sees, that 7 cms of snow have fallen overnight. Outfit of the day is a slightly used set of Snowminds Merino-wool underwear, which only gets better the more you use it. Besides that, I’m gonna wear a lightweight mid-layer. The breakfast contains, like most other mornings, oats, granola and milk. It is a good start on the day, and I know, that today will be a good day!

Time 07:20 AM – The trip to work

We move out in the soft powder at 7.20 am and start to walk towards the ski school. It is a 20-minute walk from the Staff Accommodation and it is just under 2 kilometers. The newly fallen snow makes the trip a bit harder than days without, but we welcome this challenge because it makes the slopes amazing in the morning. On the ski school, we put on the big green ski school-jacket, that, combined with black pants, makes up our uniform. At 7.55 am we stand in front of the ski school as a group – ready for morning training…

(Sidenote: If you’ve ever wondered why there is already ski tracks on the slopes even though you are the first one in the liftline in the morning, it is because the ski schools have been up skiing before the slopes open for the rest of the people – this is doubtless the best times on the slopes!)

…The morning training is today run by Ron Betts, one of the ski schools own heroes. With 17 years of experience as a heliskiing guide and a CSIA level 4 certificate, he is one of the best-educated skiers in Canada. Besides the fact that he is a great skier, Ron always brings fantastic spirits and a keen eye. Today the training contains a set of warm-up exercises and some skiing technique. Ron is fast when it comes to correcting us, and only a nick of time after I’ve started my run, he spots that I lean too much towards the mountain when I turn to the right. By pulling my left pole, he forces me to plant it further down, and that actually corrected my posture a lot. By that simple thing, I learned something new today – or I mean AGAIN today. Our skiing is improving every day, and the highly educated ski instructors are always up for a run or two with some guidance if they have got the time.

Time 09:00 AM – First round of lessons

At 9 am I’m ready in front of the “First Timer”-sign – that is young adults and adults that have never skied before – some of them haven’t even seen snow. I get 6 adults, who quickly are sliding around on the snow. It is a big entertainment for both parts – instructor and students. We hike a small hill with side steps and start sliding down in a snow plow to learn to brake and turn. At 11 am the class is over, and the guests hand me 20 CAD as a tip.

The Canadian tip-culture is considerably better compared to the Danish. They often tip, and it is expected, that you tip when you’re out yourself. I’ve experienced to get 110 CAD after 4 days work with the same guests – that is on top of our normal wage, which is 12,65 CAD/hour.

I question the Supervisor, Lauren, if I have any other lessons, and she says, that I have to be back at 1.30 pm, where I have the next one. I look around and see another 5 instructors, 3 from Snowminds, who have had the same message. We quickly move towards the chairlift to get as many runs as possible. Primarily we are skiing the black slopes with and without moguls. Because of the snow, which has fallen overnight, we change to a pair wider and softer skies that suit the deep snow better. 6 green jackets are soon rushing down between the trees in the soft snow. This is just a normal day, and I have never felt so happy.

Time 01:00 PM – lunch

At 1 pm the freeskiing stops, and we move towards the canteen, where the soup of the day quickly is consumed before the coming lessons.

Time 01:30 PM – Second round of lessons

At 1.30 pm the next lesson starts, and I have to teach the “Cruise the Blues”-team, which is on the fourth out of five levels. Guests on this level are able to ski all blue slopes and seek more confidence to ski the black slopes. I get 4 young Australian guests between the age of 14 and 16, and they can’t wait to come out. We are warming up on a blue slope, but after this, we’re working with weight shift on a black slope. When you are teaching on this level, even the instructor himself is learning a lot, because the level in the training is so high. They feel comfortable and instead of only correcting them on a technical level, you need to spend some time working on a psychological level.

(Sidenote: Obviously it is different when you are working with kids. The majority of the guests I’m teaching are adults, but a lot of my coworkers are teaching kids. The difference between teaching kids and adults is the way you are teaching. Kids wanna play, and adults require a bit more explanation and technique in the lessons.)

Time 03:30- The work day is over

The time is now 3.30 pm, and the lesson ends with a debriefing to the Australian guests mom, who short wants a brief about, what the teenagers have learned. With a big smile on their faces, the four young guns say thanks a lot, and the mom gives me 10 CAD.

The Snowmindsgroup is now moving back home with the resorts shuttlebus. The kitchen is buzzing with good vibes as a big part of the group starts to cook today’s dinner. In Sun Peaks the whole Snowmindsgroup, counting 40 instructors from Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, is in the same building, where we have our own room on 7 square meters with a bed, a table, a small closet and a small fridge. In the building, we have a big, common room, where all of us can be at once if we squeeze a bit together. The kitchen is built for 20 people, but it gets used by 50, so sometimes both space and kitchen tools are running low. Despite the missing space, we are getting the best out of it. If we aren’t listening to music over the speakers we usually sing-along as somebody plays the guitar.

Time 06:00 PM – evening chill 

Tonight’s program is different card games, a small FIFA-tournament, and a round of beer, before some of the instructors, who are having a day off tomorrow, are going to a bar somewhere downtown. They need to use the tips on somewhat 😉

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means, that I’m having a day off. Despite the fact that I’m off from work, I usually go to the morning training. The chief instructors say, that we should get the most out of it and sleep when the season is over.
After the morning training we put on our own ski gear, and now it is time for fun! Some skiers try out the snowboard-discipline on the kids-slope with a volunteering snowboard instructor from the Snowmindsgroup. I don’t why, but it is both satisfying and entertaining to see your instructor-friends sit down suddenly.
If it has been snowing overnight we usually move out into some deeper snow outside the slopes between the trees. If not we are skiing on the slopes and improving our technique. The Snowminds-course has brought a lot of confidence to us, and I don’t believe, that there is a slope, that we can’t do. It is not a question if we can do it, but more about how good we can do it.

 

 

If you are considering if a season as an instructor in Canada is the right choice for you, I will send my warmest recommendations to you! No matter if you prefer to work with kids or adults, there is a way for you! You get the chance to try it all, and the ski school makes sure, that you only work with the guests, who makes you comfortable.

// Jonathan

There are limited places and work visas, so we recommend that you apply in good time!

 

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