BC’s ski instructor training program hits the slopes

Kicking off the winter quarter, Bellevue College is offering a PE course that gives students firsthand experience as a ski instructor. Lighting a fire in the hearts of skiers, snowfall is beginning to increase and so is the desire the visit the mountains; with the Ski Instructor Training Course, students can do just that.

The Ski Instructor Training class is a two-credit hybrid course offered during winter quarter at Bellevue College, which allows students to take their next steps as a professional ski instructor. This is the second year the course is being offered. The course instructor, Peter Prescott, explained the purpose of the course: “This class prepares students to take the PSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor Training class in preparation for a lifetime of Winter work and recreation.” In addition to achieving eligibility for the Level 1 exam, students can expect to learn, both online and in-person, how to assess safety risks in a variety of mountain conditions, match appropriate ski equipment as well as safety gear to a student’s experience level, and articulate safety rules alongside regulations on a mountain.

“Becoming a ski instructor is a rewarding way to spend more time on the mountain, improve your own ski ability, and make skiing more affordable,” Prescott commented.

Qualified students must have basic ski abilities before entering the course as well as permission from an instructor. Even though ski equipment and ski passes are provided, transportation is not. Furthermore, carpooling is highly encouraged.

The class begins with online instruction and then practice at two clinics, one of which is an indoor ski facility where ski practice takes place on carpets. Prescott noted training on the carpets as an “awesome” experience. The other and more exciting clinic involves the class hitting the slopes at Snoqualmie Pass.

Despite the usual occurrences of bad weather in the region, the class usually meets on the mountain anyways. The only instance where the class would be canceled is if driving conditions become too severe. Though weather conditions like these may dishearten some, Prescott commented that students tend to work together to carpool and ensure a safe as well as a reliable means of transportation to the mountain.

The mere thought of being an instructor can be an intimidating role to take for new students, however, Prescott described the experience as irreplaceable: “This year’s group just did their first night of course observations… and all of them left with smiles on their faces talking about the cool kids they were teaching. They were already instructors and just needed some time to adjust and spread their passion to others.”

Prescott made it clear that the more students participate in the course, the merrier. At the beginning of the quarter, the course started with nine students. “Ideally we would like to have 16 students or more,” Prescott added.

Prescott painted the picture for the ambitious atmosphere the course has for upcoming instructors: “This class is great for those who enjoy teaching others and want to spend more time in the mountains.”