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SnowSkool Gap Year Ski & Snowboard Instructor Course

[ 0 ] May 23, 2013 |

This past Northern Hemisphere winter I was lucky enough to spend 4 weeks participating in a Snowboard Instructor course run by SnowSkool in Big White Ski Resort, Canada.

My family had decided to spend a family holiday together in Canada for Christmas 2012.  The decision had been made to spend a week in Vancouver and then head up to Big White for a further two weeks together.

Once it was confirmed that we were going to be spending some time in Big White I decided to look into whether there were some snowboarding courses that I could join.  I didn’t want to just get snowboarding group lessons.  I was really looking for the group environment where I could meet new people and form some connections.  Things you can’t really do when you are simply dropping in here or there for a group snowboarding lesson.

After a bit of Googling, I came across SnowSkool a British company that offered snowboard instructor courses.  I wasn’t really that interested in the instructing side of things and I couldn’t really see myself being a snowboard instructor.  The main reason being that I make more money being a web developer than I would do as a ski or snowboard instructor!

But after chatting with one of the owners, Phil he assured me that I would get the same benefit by doing this course and not actually taking the certification.  Especially given that I was going to be leaving before the first round of certifications began.

So what was it like?

For me the course was perfect.

The first week and a half of the course was a bit of a feeling out process where we all had our snowboarding technique broken down.  Then we slowly learnt to rebuild it in a much better style.  Since I first learned to snowboard 13 years ago and was completely self-taught, I carried the usual amount of bad habits!  Each day on the course I felt as though I was learning something new and getting better and more confident with my snowboarding.

Although the course normally offers accommodation and flights I already had everything like that sorted so I just paid for the instruction.  This was really great as I could fit this in with the plans we had already made and wasn’t paying for things I didn’t need.

My Snowboarding Goals

I had two pretty modest goals for my time in Canada.

  1. I wanted to land a 180 (for those of you who don’t know what this means – take a look at this video).
  2. I wanted to be able to drop off a cliff about 8-10 feet high and be able to land it 80% of the time.

Yes, I know these are relatively modest goals for someone taking a snowboarding course.  But remember I am 36 years old with 2 young kids so my days of youthful abandon are long gone. The consequences of injuries hit much harder at 36 than they do when you are 21!

Success or Failure?

So was I successful in achieving my two goals?

The answer is a big yes!

During the 3rd week of the course we had a couple of massive dumps of snow and our instructors decided to stop the instructing and just ride for a few hours of pure fun.

They took us to some amazing areas of the mountain including riding the trees and to a couple of cliff drops.  They started off with reasonably small drops and progressively took us to ones that were more and more difficult.

Eventually we were dropping off a cliff about 8-10 foot high that had an awesome approach.  To drop off the cliff you had to drop into a little bowl then ride up to the edge, negotiating trees on either side with a gap of probably 60cm wide!  Landing that was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.  To have the rest of my group (about 6 other guys) cheering you on for landing it was amazing.  This was exactly what I was looking for when I signed up for this course!

Landing the 180 had to wait until my very last day on the mountain though.

On my second last run of the day I decided to hit a pretty gentle kicker on the way into the village and I tried (and landed) a 180!!! I was pretty happy with myself for even trying it.  About 15 minutes later I was riding my very last run with my 7 year old and I told him to watch while I tried a 180.


He waited patiently and saw me…..

………………………………..wait for it………..

…………………………………………….land it again!


Two attempts and two successful landings!  100% success rate!  What I way to finish my time in Big White!

I had a great time on the SnowSkool snowboard instructor course and if I ever have the opportunity I would definitely be willing to fork out my money to do it all over again.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys and girls to spend my time with.

Maybe next time my wife Tracy might do the ski instructor course!

Disclaimer: I paid for the instruction side of the course as I already had the accommodation and transportation sort.

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About onurwaytravel: Colin has been travelling the world with his young family for the past 2 and half years. He runs a couple of websites all revolve around travel, family travel and digital nomadism. His websites include,, and now View author profile.

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