“Six months on from arriving in Tignes for Snoworks Gap 2019, and everyday I wish I was still there! What had originally been, for me, an opportunity to improve my skiing abilities and have some fun in the mountains during my post A-levels gap year, quickly became so much more than that. Tignes and my fellow ‘gappies’ became home, beautiful conditions up on the glacier in October became the norm, and gaining lots of teaching practice in mock lessons became more and more imaginative and engaging. I can’t thank Lee and Dave enough for how much effort they put into making the course so much fun. Every aspect was managed with a perfect balance of challenge, enjoyment and expertise; from the ski training, preparation on- and off-snow for both Level 1 and 2 exams, post-course job guidance, off-snow fitness sessions (of which weekly basketball became a course highlight), and the social events – the End of Course Gap Party, poker night, games night and quiz night, to name a few. Although unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in the technical side of the Level 2 exam, this hasn’t disheartened me because I still came away having improved massively, with greater memories and friends than I could have expected – as well as a need to do as many more ski seasons as possible! If you have a love for skiing, you will for sure have the time of your life with Snoworks.”
“I completed the 8 week Basi 1 and 2 course in 2019, during my gap year. I could not recommend it more! I made great friends with the others on the course, and a few of us ended up working at the same company (Evergreen) together in Japan, for the rest of the season. Living and eating together really meant we built friendships quickly. We had great snow on the glacier in Tignes from October, and although the training was pretty full on, Lee, Dave and Katie were super supportive and made it so much fun : ) My best memories are of playing basketball and fitness training together, renting powder skis and getting my first taste of off piste touring, and the end of course party after getting our Level 2s. I was so sad to leave Tignes in December because after 2 months the chalet really felt like home! But teaching kids and living in Japan was so much fun, I feel I gained a lot of life experience, and I’m really grateful for being able to get the job through Lee’s contacts, and for earning a well-respected instructor qualification that I hope to use again to do more ski seasons.”
“Having come into ski instructing from a recreational skiing background, ski racing was something other people did. Once I decided that I wanted to get my BASI level 4 that had to change as the Eurotest/CTT is a compulsory module of the level 4. Having never pushed out of a start gate in anger in my life, the whole concept of trying to ski a GS course within 19% of the time of the world no 1 seemed at best terrifying and at worst totally unachievable. Having done some tech training with Snoworks PRO for my BASI level 1-4 exams, and having achieved positive results in these exams I knew if anybody could help me turn me into a ski racer it was Snoworks PRO.
Over the last 2 seasons training with Snoworks PRO I think it’s safe to say that we have achieved the transformation. The whole set up is focused on getting you to achieve your goals and there are many reasons that I continue to train with them.
There is a varied coaching team mainly headed up by Euan Gardiner who has a wealth of personal experience having attended a US ski academy and raced at FIS level, he also happens to be just about the nicest guy in the world and will do anything to help. His wife Jenny has been race coaching in France for 18 years and what she doesn’t know about passing the Eurotest isn’t worth knowing. She calls a spade a spade, but if she says it’s looking good you know you’re doing something right. I have also had the privilege of been coached by 4-time Olympian Emma Carrick-Anderson, the legend that is Phil “Go open” Smith and Nick Quinn who is the most positive person you could ever meet. If you are having a bad day 5 minutes in Nick company with leave you feeling 100% better.
The coaches work really head to build a team spirit in the training group, this not only means that the training is more fun it’s also more productive. Having a good team ethos means that there is friendly competitiveness when the timing comes out for a mock test or in the gym. It also means there is a sharing of ideas when it comes to tactics in the course, somebody to grab a coffee with or a buddy to chat to when you’re servicing your skis. On race day it also means that there are enough people around to carry jackets, radio in course reports to the top of the hill and video the runs leaving the coaches free to help you prepare for you run at the top of the course.
On the hill the coaching team are always trying to make the most of every day on the hill, they understand that we don’t have an unlimited amount of time or money. To that end they are always coming up with ways to maximise quality and quantity of ski time by trying to avoid the ques, skiing till the lifts close if your legs can take it and been imaginative with the format of the day. Quite often we will free ski and work on technical changes in a morning while other teams are standing in ques and getting cold, then get in the gates in the afternoon when lots of the other teams have gone home, meaning you can walk on the lifts.
Off the hill 2-3 times a week there is optional fitness training after skiing, this is taken by one of the coaching team. It’s great for ensuring that your legs can last the course and really helps build the team spirit, be warned the session taken by Nick and Emma generally fall into the type 2 fun category. We also have video analysis sessions looking at both our personal videos and that of other racers to look and technical and tactical aspects of ski racing. Some weeks we even have Yoga sessions, ski tech demos to ensure your skis are in tip top condition and even sports psychology sessions.
The support from Snoworks PRO doesn’t stop when training finishes, they follow through with providing race support. This means that they help organise travel to and accommodation at the races. Euan travels to the race with you and can organise training on the race hill the day before the race, he is also there to help with ski prep the night before the race. On race day Euan is there to provide whatever help you want him to, be that help with course inspection, tactics, putting his fast wax on your skis or a pep talk in the start hut. It’s also good on race day to have the other members of the team around so we can help with other logistics as I have mentioned.
Finally, the support from Snoworks PRO doesn’t stop after the season, they are always there to provide help and assistance. For example, during the current lock down due CV-19 Emma has been posting 3 fitness sessions a week on Facebook to help everybody stay ski fit for when we can get back to the snow.
I have really enjoyed my time skiing with Snoworks PRO and I have made real progress towards my goal of passing the Eurotest, a massive thanks goes to all the team as I wouldn’t have got this far without your help and support.”
“During my time with Snoworks PRO last season my Trainers were Jenny Yates and Euan Gardiner. They delivered the highest quality and most productive training that worked wonders for my technical progression. A huge focus and benefit of the training was down to how personal they both kept the delivery. Both Jenny and Euan spent a long time getting to know ME, allowing them to successfully build my confidence drastically throughout my time with them and ensured I was psychologically ready for my future in and out of skiing. I highly recommend training with this team. As an ex-national team skier they were able to bring out the best in my skiing. For anyone aiming at their teaching awards and/or French Equivalence, their approach to performance is excellent.“
“My first experience of Euan Gardiner was in Summer 2017 when I came to him in need of some skiing consistency. Over the next season Euan was able to transform my skiing using his wide depth and knowledge of skiing and racing. We spent a significant length of time together each day; training in the day, dry land activities in the afternoons and making sure my skis were at a sufficient standard for the next day. At Snoworks PRO they pride themselves with smaller groups, so they can equally share their time with you, both on the hill and with feedback and video sessions off the hill. He took the stress out of my Test Technique in Alpe d’Huez as he sorted the entry, the travel and the accommodation for the trip, which meant I was able to focus purely on my training. On the race itself, he was there for support and he must have done something right as all three of us passed!“
“I came to train with Snoworks PRO for a few weeks before taking my BASI level 3, ISIA technical exam in Zermatt in 2018. All the coaches are super positive and approachable. I was mostly coached by Emma who is a massive female inspiration and her enthusiastic energy rubs off on you pretty quickly! The Snoworks PRO philosophy makes you think about the mountain and skiing in a totally different way and creates a positive atmosphere for everyone to train and progress in. Emma and Lee prepared me to pass the ISIA tech at the beginning of the season and I have now begun the Eurotest path with coach Euan- Full Send!”
“I went on the Snoworks Gap course in 2016 just after I finished my A levels and it was an amazing experience. The Snoworks Gap course is unique because the pre-season training means that you are qualified with BASI Level 1 and 2 before christmas giving you the whole season to work as a ski instructor.
It was an intense 8 weeks with fitness and theory sessions in the evenings, but my skiing improved so much in that time and all our instructors made us feel really prepared for the BASI exams. Half of the time we worked on our own skiing, looking at all the different BASI performance strands. The instructors we had were brilliant and we looked at videos of ourselves skiing which was a bit nerve racking but actually so helpful! For the rest of the time we practised and learned how to teach skiing which meant going back to basics and breaking down skiing into what BASI call the ‘fundamental elements’.
Tignes was a great location and we had amazing snow conditions up on the glacier. There were loads of things to do on the weekends as well as places to go out to in the evening. For most of the course we stayed in the Hotel L’Ecrin which began to feel like home by the end! The staff were lovely and the food and facilities were amazing.
I was really lucky and I used one of Lee’s contacts to apply for a job with Altitude Ski School in Grindelwald in Switzerland. I’m really enjoying teaching, especially the really little kids who make the lessons so much fun. The instructors here are also helping me improve my skiing so I can work towards retaking the technical aspect of BASI 2 in a couple of weeks time.
Thank you so much to everyone at Snoworks, Lee, Dave, Rupert, Jenny, Emma and John, I had the most amazing time!”
“Snoworks Gap is an amazing course to do. All the instructors are amazing skiers and teachers, who have such a passion for what they do, that they really help get you through the exams. You are taught to do more than just ski, you learn how to teach effectively and also how to service your skis. During the course I initially failed my BASI 1 however it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be because you are able to do a retake on the course. It isn’t the end if you fail BASI 1, everyone is really supportive of you and you continue to train for your BASI 2 even if you don’t pass BASI 1 first time. After I did my retake and passed I wasn’t confident that I would pass BASI 2. Lee and Dave were both fantastic in helping building up my confidence and my skiing ability so that when it came to the BASI 2 exam I was in a position where I was able to pass. While on the course you get lots of help in finding jobs for the season I was able to work in Austria and it is thanks to Snoworks that I was able to do that. Their course is so much more than just doing the BASI exams, I have made lifelong friends and it has given me such a great experience in life that I will genuinely never forget.”
After Graduating from University in the summer I wanted to find experiences that would challenge me in a very different way. Having always had a love for the mountains and skiing it only seemed logical to me to pursue a career as a ski instructor. One fantastic benefit of training with Snoworks is that you are trained and qualified before the season starts. Prior to heading out to Tignes, Lee Townend, who was a motivational figure throughout the course and very devoted to developing all skiers to the very best of their ability, put me in contact with a company in Japan to work as an instructor. When booking onto the course, one of my primary goals was to develop my skiing ability, but it never occurred to me that I might have the amazing opportunity to end up working half way across the world. But sure enough, I got hired and could not wait for the adventure to start.
Joining the SnoworksGAP course and meeting the people who you were going to be living and working with for the next eight weeks, was of course daunting. However, a happy and relaxed atmosphere developed very quickly between members of the group. During our time with Snoworks we stayed in a Mark Warner hotel where we were very spoilt with beautiful accommodation and were looked after by amazing staff, which was well deserved as we were all thrown into the deep end from the start. Not only were we skiing all day every day but we also developed a variety of skills off the mountain too, ranging from video analysis to fitness. Some of the best moments of my life were during the SnoworksGAP course and whilst we all had our good days and bad days, I believe that everyone felt such a sense of achievement throughout and we could all visibly see each other improve.
Unfortunately, I broke my leg towards the end of my time with Snoworks which prevented me from getting to Japan. Although I was disheartened, this experience did not taint my time at all and the Snoworks staff who were incredibly supportive have remained in touch to check up on my recovery. I loved every moment with SnoworksGAP, developed my skiing, found friends for life and I cannot wait to get back on a pair of skis and pursue spending the 2017-2018 winter season in Japan.
“Lee Townsend from Snoworks was my allocated trainer for my first attempt at acquiring my Level 3 BASI Technical exam in Hintertux. Despite his best efforts I wasn’t quite up to the standard required. However, he had enough faith in me to suggest that with a little more training I should make the grade. As I considered my options I looked around at the various ISIA training programmes. Snoworks appealed to me straight away, as they stood out with regard to price, group size and course programme. The fact that Lee already knew what I would have to do to achieve the next level and would be guiding me through the training, was also an incentive to book with Snoworks.
The booking process was very easy and the personal communication with the company was first class and meant I was able to enroll on a course that matched my specific needs. This was made easier by dealing with Lee directly through email. After sorting out the booking of the course, Lee gave me all the information I needed to book accommodation and sort travel and domestic arrangements. With everything done it was just awaiting game until training started.
On Arrival in Tignes my transfer dropped me off at Tignes Chalet Company accommodation. This accommodation was first class and I can not fault their service during my three week stay. Everyone in the chalet was on one of the Snoworks courses, which made it a very friendly and supportive environment.
Every Sunday evening there was a pre-course meeting where you were given all the information for the week, such as meeting places, time and instructor for the week etc. As well as this it was a chance to have a beer and meet others on your course.
My first week of training was with Lee. It was a relatively relaxed week, as it was the first time in a while that most people in the group had put on skis. The week was all about getting our minds focused on skiing and the demands that the L3 Technical assessment would require of us. We undertook a heavy drills based programme which help us develop, analyse and hone out technique. During this week we were videoed most days. This was followed up with a video session every morning, in the café, on the big TV. This not only allowed us to see what we needed to work on, but it was fresh in our mind as we started the day’s training. You were able to access these videos so we could reflect on them in your own time. I always felt that Lee and his team went that extra mile to give you every opportunity to progress. One example of this was when Lee turned up at our chalet one evening, joined us for dinner and then presented an amazing video session on the analysis of performance for the Level 3 Teaching exam.
For our second week we had a different instructor call Rupert Goldring, who again was brilliant all week and set the same high standards demonstrated by Lee. Over the weekend it dumped snow and as a consequence the resort was closed on Monday. However, Rupert didn’t want to waste the day so he put on a video session to talk about what he wanted to work on over the week. I found this really useful. He didn’t blind us with science and reams of technical jargon but emphasised three main point that he illustrated through footage of several different skiers. Rupert was very intuitive, and honest about his own performance in relation to these points. After the video session with Rupert, Lee had organised other things such as fitness session.
During the second week the intensity grew and we began working on specifics of the assessment criteria in preparation for the exam. During this week things that had been highlighted in the classroom started to have a positive impact on our performance. This gave everyone a boost and armed them with the confidence to push on. By the end of this week big things had started to happen to my skiing and I was starting to feel more and more confident about going into my exam.
It snowed heavily once again over the weekend, and the resort was closed again on the Monday. As in the previous week the day was not wasted. Snoworks ran a very good avalanche awareness session, demonstrating how to use transceivers properly and what to do in a number of different scenarios. I was really impressed with these sessions. Following this we all did a video analysis session, again looking at how to teach for the L3 Tech exam. This was very helpful as it gave people enough help to empower them, to identify and make changes to their performance, then to make progress.
The final week of training started and we had Lee back as the instructor. This week was based more on a BASI exam week as a few in the group, myself included, had the L3 Technical exam a week later in Zermatt. Lee make sure we where all singing off the same hymn sheet with regard to the BASI technical lingo and what we individually had to work on, as well as knowing what level our skiing was at. Day after day I could feel my skiing changing and improving all thanks to Lee at the helm. During this week we again had lots of positive reinforcement through video feedback.
By the end of the three weeks I was skiing better then I had ever skied before and felt confidant about going into my exam.
I ended up passing my BASI level 3 Technical exam in Zermatt and this was largely down to the hard work and support that Lee and the rest of the Snoworks team put into my progress. By taking the time to get to know me and my sking, all the trainers were able to provide me with a very bespoke programme of preparation for my L3 Technical exam. I will defiantly be returning next pre-season to do some more technical training and the race training that they also run.”
So again lee I just want to say a massive thank you for all the help that you gave me over the 3 weeks. I would defiantly like to come back next pre-season and do the same sort of things again. But do 2 weeks technical training with yourself and then do 2 weeks euro test training. Again thank you to you and your team “
“I want to start off by saying thank you to the amazing team at Snoworks, who were brilliant, all the teachers at Snoworks are genuinely invested in you passing your exams (especially Lee the ‘Punisher’) Everyone on the course was so friendly which was great and it definitely made it easier going into the BASI 1 & 2 exams with a group of people you had gotten to know over the 8 weeks. We had some of the best snow in the season on the course, for the first couple of weeks we were on the glacier and then the snow started to fall by the bucket load and then the whole of the mountain opened up so then we had the whole of Tignes and Val-d’Isère to, practice and free ski. The fact that the course started and finished in the pre-season was perfect as well, because it meant that I could qualify and then go on and teach in Austria in the same season. I Just want to say thank you again for an amazing experience, I now have my BASI 1&2, have taught a season and have made friends for life on this course. If you are thinking of doing an instructor course, I would recommend Snoworks Gap 1000 times over.”
“As a BASI 2 I spent two weeks training with Jenny from the Snoworks Pro team on Test technique training. Having never skied round gates before Jenny’s vast knowledge of racing and her enthusiasm for everyone to improve shone through and enabled me to fully enjoy my training to the fullest. By the end of the two weeks my skiing round the gates was unrecognisable compared to where I began thanks to Jenny.“
Last year I made a big decision, I was 18, didn’t want to go to university and I wanted to travel around the world but also live there rather than spending a few weeks here and there, I wanted to see places for what they are really like, Snoworks has allowed me to do that not just for a year but for years to come. Age 18 i new that uni unlike most of my friends wasn’t for me, I had done years at school at then onto a levels and to be honest id had enough of it, I also wanted to get away from the, honestly quite boring life that was so easy to just keep , relentlessly going to work then school, then once finished more work, sleep repeat, I’d just had enough and I knew I needed to do something more, something to challenge myself so I decided to do it and like that I’d booked myself onto the Snoworks gap course an 8 week life changing opportunity.
What can I say about the course ? Well to be honest, you kinda have to do it yourself to fully understand how great it is ! Friends, I meet so many awesome friendly people when I was on the course we all made one big family who where all going on this epic journey together, I not only became friends with the people on the course, but the trainers, the staff at the hotel and the other people who where doing other Snoworks courses. My advise to those who are thinking about the course is to have a roommate, I know it seems strange at first, sleeping with a complete stranger but within the first hour of being there we where best friends, it’s also great having someone there to make sure your on time for everying and just giving each other advice like how cold is it today or should I where another top today or mate, do I smell ? Trust me, I’m a ski instructor so I’m not so great with words but I’m trying to put across that having a roommate is basically staying in a room with your best friend.
The Snoworks staff, to this day I’ve not found a staff member that I don’t get along with, all of them, yes even lee are great fun, there wasn’t one day when I thought wow this is boring or I thought I didn’t want to be here, even when I was hungover or it was -30 degrees with freezing fog and I put that down to the trainers I would not them down by name but whoever is reading this won’t know them yet so basically pointless and I could ramble on for a while which would be very boring.
The hotel is awesome, you feel like a millionaire when you stay there, the food was excellent even though the chef partied most nights !! All the staff where great, your there with them for 8 weeks so they become family as well.
One of the best things about Snoworks gap has got to be that the course is done before the winter starts, which means you can be a ski instructor for the winter !! A job in japan , what could be better? If your a skier, which your should be if your reading this, you should know that Japan is like the Mecca of skiing, a place full of dreams and beautiful powder, not the stuff you snort but better !
I would totally recommend going, it really doesn’t disappoint, there is more snow than you can dream, more tree lines than you could imagine and more pillow lines that will leave you wet for weeks. The teaching is also good fun, the slopes are fun for your first years teaching and you learn a lot on the job, however I can’t say how great the days off are, skiing around with your buddy’s in the glorious japow, you can even ski the pow at night after work !! I mean do I really need to say anymore than that!
Now a final word, please stop thinking about the Snoworks Gap course and just go book yourself on it, if your worried about cost, think, it’s only like going to uni for a year but your fully qualified after you do it, and you have a job after it!
This was written by Niall Chesters – ski instructor, any questions about the course feel free to contact me on Facebook or Instagram, I’m the guy with all the awesome skiing photos of himself, and also some cool looking abstract art if you go on my Instagram – @niallchesters72
“Having decided I wanted a gap year before university I decided I wanted to become a ski instructor and the best company to choose was SnoworksGAP. In October I began the season of my life by going on the 8 weeks Instructors course. I travelled to Tignes a little nervous, as it was the first time I have been away from home for such a long time. Lee our trainer quickly got us working together and we established a fantastic team spirit that lasted until our last day in December. Once we got started I never looked back.
The training took place in Tignes in France. Tignes is a great place to train; its glacier the Grande Motte was a fantastic place to train offering skiing all year around. It felt really weird skiing in October and looking across the valley and seeing green grass and brown rocks! Although last season the snow wasn’t the best, we were still able to practise our piste performance, central theme and teaching. People complain that if you don’t have the facilities you can’t perform to your best but Tignes certainly was not that. It was also a bonus watching professionals such as Alex Pinturault training there; it was amazing watching how quickly they skied.
Away from the mountain Tignes offered loads of bars and restaurants as well as a state of the art sports centre which we used for fitness and playing basketball.
The staff were brilliant and the main man Lee trained us. He was extremely driven guy as well as a great laugh. Lee really brought the best out of us and it was fantastic to be trained by him. The only criticism I can have of him is that he supports the worst football team, Man United! As well as Lee I would like to mention Phil, Nick, Euan, Mike, JT, the Dave’s they really helped us with our skiing and they were great fun to be with. I really enjoyed training and doing the BASI 1 exam with Emma Carrick Anderson. It’s not every day you can say you have skied with a four time Olympian. All those guys helped us to be ready for the exams.
Having spent some time skiing with instructors who qualified under the Canadian (CSIA) and American (PSIA) systems, I have to say that BASI was the superior qualification. This is because it prepares the candidates both mentally and physically; it is a more rigorous exam and is highly respected worldwide. After a few weeks I passed my BASI level 1 but unfortunately failed part of my BASI level 2 in December. However, I straight away rebooked for the level 2 resist in Hintertux (Austria) in April 2015. Lee was a fantastic helper throughout offering me advice and training. I also trained really hard with the other instructors that I worked with and this meant I was able to pass my Level 2 resist. I was honestly so happy and relieved! Job done.
So after the instructor course I managed to get a job working at the Hermitage Club, Vermont in the USA with the help of Lee. This was no ordinary resort it was a private mountain, which was a really cool thing. The biggest benefit about the private mountain was the fact that your tracks could be the only ones down the slope all day and there were no lift queues!! The snow was great, it was the best they had in over 10 years, and so we enjoyed a lot of awesome powder skiing. If anyone is interested about working In the USA you should definitely go with SnoworksGAP and get your visa before you go out to Tignes.
I highly recommend Snoworks Gap and I’m sure I will be returning sometime in the future!”
In the lead up to the course I was so worried about being homesick but with so much going on I never missed home once and felt I had made friends for life by the end of the first week. Some of whom I’m now teaching with, in Austria.
The accommodation was gorgeous, the staff very friendly and they catered to dietary requirements extremely well. As for the snow, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions – skiing powder up on the glacier in the first week of November!
I originally chose Snoworks GAP as it meant that I could be qualified as a BASI 2 instructor before Christmas, in time to work the entire season as an instructor. I’m so glad I did, I felt well prepared for both my technical skiing in the exams as well as how to teach – which seemed a daunting prospect at first, but our many opportunities to role-play teaching meant by our BASI 2 exams it was no longer scary!
I honestly couldn’t recommend a course more. I had the best 8 weeks of my life, saw an incredible progression in my own and everyone else’s skiing and made the most wonderful friends.
“I joined the Snoworks Gap course for the first two weeks in order to complete my BASI level 1 exam. I chose Snoworks over the many other companies offering ski instructor courses after a lot of research due to its pre season timing and because of the flexible nature of the course. Lee was more than accommodating and was able to create a package that suited my availability and budget.
I have trained with other companies that run instructor courses and one of the many things that has stood out to me and sets Snoworks apart from other instructors courses is that the company is run by the same people that are training you. This is reflected in the noticeable difference in how invested Lee and the Snoworks team are in your development as a skier and an instructor.
The first week where we worked on our own personal performance and technique was taken by Lee Townend who could not be more involved and dedicated to your success. His support and advice continues even after the course is over and he has helped me massively on my path to continuing through the BASI system. Emma Carrick Anderson took our second week for our BASI level 1 exam. Not only was it an amazing opportunity to be trained by a four time Olympian but she is one of the most encouraging and passionate people you will ever meet!
The location of the course was perfect. Tignes is an amazing resort and we made the most of how much there was to do with our fitness sessions, use of the sports centre and, of course, socialising in the evenings. The Aguille Percee hotel was beyond my expectations and the great food and service was a real treat to come back to after a days training. I was apprehensive of the snow conditions as it was so early in the season and I had never done glacier skiing before. However I was very pleasantly surprised, the sun shone almost every day and the snow was great – I couldn’t believe I could ski fresh powder in October!
Although I only joined the course for two short weeks I couldn’t have been happier with my choice to train with Snoworks Gap and would highly recommend it to anyone! Anna. x”
“So my journey with SnoworksGAP started on a Snoworks “All Terrain” course with 4-times Olympian Emma Carrick-Anderson, I was having a chat on a chairlift about how my job sucked. She said I should do the SnoworksGAP course and head out to Japan “to teach and ski pow”. 12 months later here I am, coming to the end of nearly 6 months of a mega first season.
It started with sending Lee an email saying I was keen to join him in the autumn, and I wanted to go to Japan. He replied very promptly giving me an outline of the course and the best way to get a visa (I would highly recommend getting a working holiday visa to Japan sorted before heading to Tignes). After getting this sorted I arrived in Tignes and started training, the days where long and tiring but very very rewarding! After a week we all took our BASI level 1 assessment, and all passed! Happy days! After a bit of a party, the real work started!
Short turns, long turns, moguls, variables, racing, rotary separation, lateral separation. After a couple of weeks we all knew what these meant, and what we needed to do. After what seemed like no time at all we where on the way to Courchevel for the two weeks of BASI level 2 assessment.
I personally felt like we where incredibly well prepared for the exam compared to some of the others there. The training from Lee and all the other Snoworks instructors Nick, Mikey B, Emma, Phil, Euan, J.T, & Rupert put us in the best possible place to succeed.
After that we all made our separate ways, 3 to Japan, 3 to the U.S.A and various others elsewhere. Speaking on behalf of the Japan crew, we have had the best time! Skiing pow until 9pm, working full time for an awesome new ski school, having great parties and General living the life!!!! Essentially if you want to work as a ski instructor, train with Snoworks then work in Japan!!!”
“Having decided I wanted to do a ski instructor course, next questions became which course, where and when. The internet is littered with instructor courses, all which seemed to be in the same ballpark price-wise. As someone unfamiliar with the Snowsports industry, deciding which course to go on, seemed tantamount to throwing a dart at a board blindfolded! I spoke to three different people all of whom are involved in Snowsports and their recommendations were unanimous – go with Snoworks. Why? Their BASI 1 & 2 GAP course is based in Tignes & Courchevel allowing you to ski a huge variety of terrain, in two of the major resorts in the French Alps (Espace Killy & Les 3 Valleys). Secondly, its one of the only courses which enables you to qualify pre-Christmas and thus teach the remainder of the winter. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly the quality of the Snoworks instructors is second to none with all their staff being BASI level 4 Trainers.
The course is spearheaded by Lee Townend who delivers the lion’s share of the teaching. Lee is not only a great laugh, but he is also quite possibly one of the most professional, driven and focused people you will ever come across in your life. Whether he was acting as our coach, mentor or instructor he always gave 110%. Like all great instructors he seamlessly tailored his teaching style and delivery to suit the needs of the individual. And one could not help but be inspired by his passion and enthusiasm for the sport. The same can be said of the rest of the Snoworks team (Phil, Emma, Mike, Nick & Rupert) all of whom are immensely experienced and have different approaches and strategies for improving your skiing.
The course itself is incredibly well structured and enjoyable at the same time. On the snow the focus is on personal performance, acquiring teaching skills and teaching experience. Off the snow there are 2 fitness sessions a week, video analysis, lectures centered around sports psychology and ski technique, all with the aim of helping us reach our peak performance. Evenings were spent meeting guests on other Snoworks courses and exploring Tignes’ plethora of bars & nightclubs. Whilst weekends were free to freeski!
The course was both mentally & physically challenging and with hindsight, I can honestly say it was probably two of the best months of my life. I would strongly recommend it to anyone wishing to improve their skiing or become a ski instructor. Those who fall into the later camp will find Snoworks provides the perfect platform for obtaining an instructor job for the rest of the winter. I was unable to pass the technical element of the BASI 2 exam. However, I was fortunate enough to find a job instructing at a private mountain in Vermont in the US, and this was largely due to Lee’s continued advice, guidance and support post course. Thereby further demonstrating his relentless commitment to his trainees.
I will be returning as a Snoworks customer next winter to train prior to re-sitting my level 2. Thanks again Lee for everything, you’re a legend!”
“Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed both weeks. Rupert’s focus was very much about strategies, drills and exercises to pass the Level 3 in the various disciplines. Your focus was a more rounded “BASI approach”, also working on longs, shorts, bumps etc. Both worked really well.
It was a great bonus to have Tori shadowing us and I thought you managed her within the group dynamics particularly well, – using her for demo purposes, for some video, for following, or working in pairs when we did reciprocal work. Your evaluation and feedback was also very good, – and always directed personally to each of us individually, giving each of us a particular focus to improve our performance.
I’ll be honest Lee, – you are a walking, talking BASI manual(!!); professional, and with the added bonus of a personal and fun delivery. I’ll be back! It was an excellent week.”
“Lee and Ru
I wanted to thank you for the excellent pre-season ISIA training in Tignes. The training standard was exceptionally high, which I guess is why you are all current BASI trainers! The groups were small enough that plenty of feedback was given and the off snow activities we great too. Having not done circuit training for a number of decades my body won’t quickly forget Emma’s circuit session!
Having been on the Level 2 plateau for a number of years this training was exactly what I needed to move my skiing forward. Thanks again and no doubt I’ll see you soon!”
“Snoworks is the real deal when it comes to gap year ski courses. Exceptional training with the one and only Lee Townend before being fully supported and aided in finding a job instructing. The opportunities to instruct are far and wide, with 11 ‘gappies’ from the year of ’13 course going on to teach in Japan!
The 8-weeks in Tignes and Courchevel with Snoworks saw friends being made, skiing improve, and Lee getting up close and personal with my feet! Gates are set, races are had, training is complete and fulfilling.
On a serious note, the Snoworks instructors are all fantastic. Whether it’s Lee, Rupert, Dave or Mike, they all give everything to help you improve while still making it fun. I did some of the best skiing of my life in the 8 weeks and that’s down to the coaches and their enthusiasm for the sport. Through drills, fitness and video feedback, everyone’s skiing drastically improved.
Long story short it was a fantastic 8 weeks and I’ve got some great stories to go with my BASI Level 2. Just make sure you’re not too loud when you come back to the hotel after a night out: the instructors need their beauty sleep!”
“I just wanted to write and thank you for an outstanding week in Tignes. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and learned so much from your enthusiastic and exuberant instruction â€“ you helped me break through a plateau that I have been stuck at for a while, for which I am truly grateful!”
“I just wanted to email to say thanks everything. I loved doing the GAP course and have had a great season in Japan with Maya, the Toms and Jonny. Tom H and I, and hopefully Jonny and Tom A too, are going to work in Australia for their winter season with a load of people we met in Myoko. Really looking forward to it! And I’m hoping to make my way through the BASI system, I think I’ve caught the bug!”
“In October 2011, I left my country bumpkin self behind in Devon for 8 weeks, to wonder off to Tignes to play on some snow. Now I can say that it was one of the best things I have ever done. Maybe even the best thing. Because the course was designed for a small group of people, we had much more focus on our individual skiing, than we would have had with one of the larger companies. So this was perfect for me with my track record in homesickness!
Within the first week, we all felt like we were just skiing around getting better as a bunch of friends, rather than a random group of people on a course, and because of this, we became each otherâ€™s best critics.
Lee, Mike, Emma, Phil and Nick, were all really good at getting us to work out what was wrong/what we needed to improve on in our skiing on our own, which in turn would help us understand how to improve someone elseâ€™s skiing when we were teaching ourselves. The evening video sessions really helped, and created a lot of laughs too.
I can’t believe we were only there for 8 weeks, we did so much skiing, hiking (in freezing rain, but it was fun!), basketball, running, circuits, more skiing, bumps, race training, sleeping, traveling, BASI-ing, and of course that odd bit of teaching.
I can’t thank the whole Snoworks team, the other gappies, and everyone else involved in our course enough for making the time I had so amazing and so much fun! I wouldn’t change it for anything! I haven’t taught much since passing BASI 2 in December, but hope to do a full season this coming winter. Thank you so much everyone! (And mummy and daddy Hugo)! I’ll be back. :)”
“Moving from Tignes (Snowork’s base) to Mayrhofen (where I’d been offered a job), was almost comparable to that daunting feeling at the top of a chairlift, the moment you realise the only run down is an icy black – which would be fine had you not bought a group of beginners with you… (Yes, I’ve made that mistake a few times). Leaving what had become such a fun and close knit group in France, to start instructing in Austria, where I neither spoke the language nor knew anyone else there, was quite a challenge. Were you to ask whether I’d do it again tomorrow, I’d easily say Yes. I have no regrets.
Mayrhofen not only gave me the chance to put my instructing skills to the test, it also played host to some unforgettable nights out. Teaching children as young as 4 to adults as old as 69, it meant every lesson had some degree of variability and amusement. You quickly realise people learn in very different ways and it’s your job and responsibility to adapt to that.
The Snoworks course and team couldn’t have given me a better foundation of instructing skills. More importantly, they showed me a love and appreciation of skiing I’d never had before; the ability to ski the same slope 100 times and remain keen to take the button up again.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone and everyone, especially if you’re serious about working through the season.
If you’re looking for the best, most qualified and personal instructor course, you’re looking for SNOWORKS. FACT.”
“You won’t find teaching better than Snoworks. Snoworks are committed to teaching you to become a better all-round skier, not just teaching you the skills to pass the test. Lee (the course director) manages that delicate balance of pushing you out of your comfort zone whilst at the same time acknowledging your limits, and he’s always on hand for one-on-one advice if the need ever arises. He’s quite simply the best instructor I’ve ever had. The rest of the Snoworks staff are all fantastic too.”
“Firstly a big thank you to all the Snoworks trainers and coaches, they are all fantastic and provide the highest level of training. As well as being awesome at teaching they are really friendly and easy to get along with and happy to sort out any problems you may have.
For me the flexibility of the course was a big plus as I had to miss the first 2 weeks due to work commitments, however this didnâ€™t stop me from getting my BASI 2, or from getting along with the rest of the group. The other members were easy to get along with and everyone supported each other as we all had strong and weak points.
After the BASI 1 we had 2 weeks to prepare for the BASI 2, and we had a fair amount of choice in what we could do. Our time was split between shadowing the Snoworks instructors and improving our own skiing. For me I spent those 2 weeks training slalom for the Test Technique which defiantly helped when I went on to take the test.
Finally I’d like to say that although the conditions were far from ideal (massive lack of snow) the Snoworks guys did a fantastic job in delivering a top class course and making sure that we had the knowledge and skills to pass the BASI 2 exam.”
“DJ (me) 35 years young and 6 years skiing experience and sitting in front of a computer in Amsterdam were I was living at the time October 2010,slowly creeping up was the winter season and I had to make a decision, whether to stay here in wet Holland or head for the white snow filled Alps. I had worked on seasons before looking after Chalets and collecting people from the Airport etc, but the pay wasn’t great and you work odd hours, this time I really wanted to get a highly respectable job that was from 9am – 3pm and paid well, it had to be a Ski Instructor.
So I rang round a few friends I had met along the way from Ski Seasons and they told about Gap courses most of them being instructors themselves, they told the three important things to a Gap course were, cost, area and most importantly the people training to become an instructor. So I started tapping away and found Snoworks, so I rang my friends back and and very quickly gave the thumbs up.
1. The cost was cheaper than any others 2. Skiing in October on the Tinges Glacier as well as Zermatt and Courchevel for training, and thirdly the trainers (teachers) Phil Smith a legend in the industry, Emma Carrick Anderson (Olympic skier) Lee Technical Townsend (Highest level of instructors) Mike Barker (National GB ski coach) and Annabel Steel who started off on the same GAP course and now run her own ski school!
So that was it, rang up the Snoworks office they gave Lee’s number whom I had a great chat with and within a week I had booked the courses which was about a month away, I started getting fit to be ready.
The month passed and I was greeted at the Geneva airport buy a beaming smile of Phil (co owner) with a Snoworks billboard, I when met all my other Gap students of all ages and jumped in a mini bus the journey started, the wind up through the beautiful mountains to Tinges were we where meet by the Mark Warner trainees who were going to be looking after us for 5 weeks. After saying hi I was shown my room which had the most amazing view of the Alps, now the thing is that we were staying in a 4* hotel out of season which meant we had the 4* treatment, rooms made up each day, full breakfast and a three courses meal with wine in the evening. After a great meal and long day I went to bed.
Now this might seem a bit of a jump but there no point mentioning about the training in detail because you can read JoJo Harpers great blog. So I thought I would mention what I think makes this Gap course so different from rest and that’s the small things, we had 12 people on the course and each morning we got spilt into 2 groups which meant I could get some real personal training from all day. Being Dyslexic I thought i would find the evening studying difficult but Lee was open for helping and finding other ways to study. Having a sports centre next door meant I could find time for myself to relax with exercise, we also had a day off each week I so went for walks, chilled out and I little rock climbing…………………….
Another great plus is that Snoworks supply a range of other courses during the Gap course so there are different people around to chat to and get to know, because it is run like a family business you treated as a passion.
The most exciting time on the course for me were then after 3 weeks of training on the Tinges glacier we took the most stunning drive to Zermatt for our first exam and feeling of being somewhere different really excited the whole team. Now the exam was a weeklong in which the examiners (BASI) help train you to be at the right standard to hopefully pass at the end of the week, easy! In the evenings you are free to do as you wish which is a good time to talk to all different levels of people taking the BASI exams about life as a Ski instructor!
Which gets me on to my last and best subject, after successfully passing my exams in 2010 mid December I was able to E-mail loads of different ski schools around the world for work, I ended up landing a great job in Austria in a little resort called Lech were I spent the rest of the season up until end of April teaching all ages the beginner levels of skiing which is the most rewarding area to teach. I also managed to save some good money from working hard on everyone enjoying the mountains on skis. I highly recommend this course for any age and any background.”
“The Snoworks Gap course is an awesome learning experience. And they are 100 percent true to their name. The 14 of us that showed up on a warm October afternoon in France were greeted with heaps of snow – powder no less. And we immediately got down to business. Lee is a first rate manager, creative thinker, and overall compassionate dude. He made us work, sometimes up to 10-12 hour days filled with on-slope and dry-land training and study. But – and here is the true and cheesy part – even though Snoworks was a heck of a lot of work, in the end…it worked! We all improved significantly. It was almost magical to see it in your peers and feel it in your own skiing.)
In the meanwhile wanted to ask if you were teaching this summer in New Zealand. You had mentioned that you were looking at that. My nephew is finishing his first year at university and thought it would be a good thing to set him up on a few months of Lee time.
On another note I left my BASI handbook in NYC when I went home and was wondering if you had a pdf format of either that or another teaching manual to give me some inspirational reading in prep for the week. “
“In October 2010 I commenced on what was to be the best 8 weeks of my life so far. Having skied 2 times a year since the age of three, my love and passion of the sport developed rapidly, and my dream one day become a fully qualified BASI instructor had started. To achieve this would require a lot of hard work and dedication but I am willing to go to any lengths. The Snoworks Gap course was for me the perfect way to start my journey. 8 weeks of all different aspects of training, from racing to off piste to bumps to basketball, was ideal. It meant that my skiing developed in all areas.
The day would start with a hearty breakfast at the L’aiguille percee Mark Warner hotel. We were very spoilt staying here, we shared rooms with one other person also on the course, we had an en suite bathroom and our rooms cleaned every day by the amazing staff, who by the end we became very close to. Our stay also included a full buffet breakfast, tea and lots of home made cake after a long days skiing and a 3 course evening meal. There was also a room with a pool table and a bar and big TV with English channels, perfect for watching the x factor or something equally as exciting, and if you aren’t one for a bit of TV then there is always the internet that the hotel could also provide. After breakfast we all headed up the hill. There was a group of about ten of us, lead by our trainer Lee Townend, who Is a BASI examiner and obviously fully BASI qualified as well. For the first few weeks we were preparing for our level one exam to be held in Zermatt. We were incredibly fortunate to have Lee, as he is a BASI examiner and clearly one of the best trainers in the country. He prepared us very well for the exam as he knew what we would be examined on. We would train in the morning, usually a different subject each morning we would then all lunch together and head back out afterwards for more fun and learning! Emma Carrick Anderson (ex Olympian) and Mike Barker (ex head GB coach) were around as well race training more clients for their euro test. All of us had the opportunity to get into the gates, some people had never raced before and others had the chance to improve thanks to Emma and mikes enthusiastic and committed approach to making us better skiers. After a full days skiing the day isn’t over. Back to the hotel for a short lecture from Lee and maybe some group work and 3 days a week we would do fitness, whether it’s a run or basket ball there will always be something fun to do. Lee’s role doesn’t just involve teaching us how to ski, he is also our mentor. This means he will help with any personal issues or problems you may have. He went out of his way to help me and I am so grateful for that.
This course is very different from others as it enables us to teach for the season after successfully completing BASI 1 and 2. I did a lot of research before booking this course and I think I only found one other course that would allow me to qualify pre season. It was more expensive and I would have got a lot less for my money. Snoworks helped me get my job as an instructor, they have many contacts in the ski world, which proves very useful
To conclude I had an amazing time with Snoworks and I would and do recommend it to anyone who wants to pursue a career as a ski instructor or who wants to just improve their skiing. I am definitely going to continue my training with them and am eternally grateful for the opportunities that Snoworks have give me.”
“A massive thank you to Lee and all the team I had such a good time on the Snoworks Gap Course. The training was amazing and I was so surprised at how much everyone’s skiing improved in such a short period of time. I was really pleased to have completed the course before Christmas as along with the help from Snoworks staff it gives you a huge advantage in getting jobs. It was a great experience and I wish I could do it again!”
“When starting the course I knew no one but because of the friendly atmosphere that the Snoworks course creates it soon changed and six months on I am still in good contact with many of them. For me what made the course were not only my own group of peers but also the instructors who were so motivated to get you to a far better standard from when you started. From all the different experiences I was able to get on and off the slope it was definitely a high light of my gap year.”
“I had the time of my life with Snoworks and would recommend it to everyone. The team who work there are so enthusiastic and always there to help. I met such amazing people who I stay in touch with and will never forget!
The Skiing itself is fantastic despite being so early in the season. We would have instruction all day, which was amazing and get all sorts of feedback on the slope and off. You even get to do race training with the legendary Emma Carrick Anderson. We also had fitness sessions, which were hugely beneficial in helping us reach our potential in Skiing.
The Accommodation we stayed in was fantastic. 3 course meals every night and spacious rooms with amazing views to wake up to every morning!
The best thing about doing the Snoworks course is that you get the opportunity to qualify before the season starts, which is amazing because you can then work the rest of the season with contacts Snoworks have.
Thanks again Snoworks and I’ll be back to do more training with you!”
“Everything about the Snoworks gap course was outstanding in quality. We benefited from a fantastic range of coaches; all encouraged us all to push ourselves to be constantly improving to a higher standard. Lee was totally dedicated to making the best skiers of us and more importantly encouraging a passion and enjoyment in the sport. Emma, Phil, Nick inspired us with very different teaching styles and techniques allowing us to learn from experience from the best examples. Fitness after skiing was tough but really added to giving the fullest experience and was great for team building. Our group was amazing, we had such good fun and it was very sad to break up the team at the end. I truly believe that Snoworks set us up with the best advantage we could have for sitting our BASI assessments and starting down the path of ski instructing. Having met lots of people who have gone through many other gap programmes, I do not think there is another option out there that matches the full rounded experience and quality of Snoworks.”