The following blog from Max Murley is a great insight into spending a season in Banff on a ski or snowboard instructor course. If you’ve got any doubts about whether it’s a good idea, read on…
If you’re looking to do an instructor course and have got this far, don’t leave this website… it would be the worst decision you’ve ever made!
After endless nights comparing instructor courses I finally chose to go with Nonstop; it was the best decision of my life. The next choice I made was to do my course in Banff; the second best decision of my life.
Banff doesn’t have one best thing about it; there are so many things that made Banff a brilliant season for me. One of the main factors was being able to ride at three different resorts. Each resort has something special about it, be it the snow, the terrain, the park, or even the food!
Sunshine Village is an awesome resort and has the best snow out of the three. When it snows, it snows a lot! 5cm in town equals 20cm plus at Sunshine. I rode the best powder of my life at Sunshine and the tree runs are just brilliant! If you get the chance you have to do the dive. Delirium Dive is an off piste area of Sunshine that requires you to rent avalanche gear to go into, definitely worth it if it’s open.
Some people don’t rate Norquay…. that’s because they don’t have the likes of Brian, Marc, and Jonny showing them all the secret stashes! Norquay is a great little resort and we spent most of our free weekends there hitting up the steeps or lapping the park. Two musts at Mt Norquay are the 9 dollar ribs and the ski out, both amazing.
Lastly we got to ride the lake. Lake Louise was most people favourite resort and you will see why. It’s a great resort and there is so much terrain to ride. Groomers, trees, off piste or park, the lake has it all and everything is top quality. There’s also some pretty sweet spots to build your own jumps in the trees.
Nonstop offers credit activities unlike any of the other companies, we met lots of other people on different instructor courses and they all wished they came with us on Nonstop’s course. We got the chance to ride Fernie, Panorama, Kicking Horse and Revelstoke – all world class resorts. I went to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke and rode some of the best terrain the Rockies has on offer. They are like giant playgrounds with little hits everywhere and if you’re up for it, some gnarly chutes and drops. When they went to Fernie they must have had some of the best snow conditions in Canada, I saw some pictures which made me very jealous… chest deep powder!
There are lots of credit activities and I would definitely recommend going to at least one other resort, the hockey games and night tubing at Norquay – going down the slopes in a rubber ring with a few beers in you is a good experience.
Along with having the best credit activities, Nonstop also have the best instructors you will ever meet. I snowboarded and the three instructors we had were just awesome. Brian, Marc, and Jonny. Also known as Jack Black, Bruce Willis, and Jesus. You will see why when you go.
They are all amazing riders with Brian and Marc at Level 4 standard, whilst Jonny is working towards his Level 4. Level 4 is the top level of instruction. These guys will teach you anything from riding waist deep powder to pulling 7s in the park. As they are locals they know all the secret spots and where the best snow is day in day out. You will also find they act like your mates so we end up having a beer with them after a days riding and then in town if went out later on. The ski instructors are pretty much the same as the snowboarders, just not as cool obviously. The instructors really made the course for me.
Banff is a great party place and the drinking age is 18, younger than the rest of Canada. You become one of the locals over the course and get to see the good vibe Banff has as a town. If you like to go out and have a drink you won’t be disappointed, Thursday and Sunday being local’s night with cheap drinks and good times, definitely the best days to go out. I would write more about going out but I don’t remember a lot of it, also what happens in Banff, stays in Banff.
I was worried about staying in a hotel for three months but the Voy was a perfect home from home. The rooms were good and the staff at the Voy absolutely love you, they come out with you some nights and we all got on really well with them. Kim will look after you and always make sure there’s good food for dinner. I like to eat a lot so don’t worry if you have an appetite, I got seconds most nights, it was ace! We stayed there for three months and there was only one meal I didn’t enjoy through my whole time there. Good job local phone calls from the room are free and Domino’s deliver! On that subject get an Eddie Burger delivered one weekend, or like us, most weekends.
Before I chose Banff I didn’t like the idea of getting busses to the different resorts. That soon went out the window. Being able to sleep on the busses was great, everyone loves that extra snooze you get. Also on the way back from the hill it’s good to unwind with some music and laugh at that person who did something stupid, there’s always one. The extra leg room seats are near the back by the way. I read reviews which said equipment gets damaged in the buses… for three months not one of us had a single problem, enough said.
Whilst in Canada I met so many people and am still in touch with a lot of the guys on Facebook. It’s not easy for me to see the guys I met on course as I live on an Island but I am currently planning a road trip with one of them to go through the UK and meet others along the way. It’s gonna be siiiiiiick. There’s no doubt you will make lifelong friends with people on the course and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people when I was in Canada, I’m sure you will say the same if you go too.
Emily was our course host and we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Emily puts in so much effort to make sure the season runs smoothly and believe me, it did. She’s also a damn good rider! Thanks to her and Nonstop, I had the best three months of my life.
I can’t recommend Nonstop enough, it was truly the best experience of my life and I hope you get the chance to do the same. Hope to see you at NONSTOCK!
PS. Here’s a video montage from this season: