The 11-week ski instructor course is underway in Fernie, BC. The Canadian NONSTOP team were delighted to welcome the 104 guests to the mountain town of Fernie for 11-weeks of fun and instructor training in the Kootenay mountain range on Tuesday 19th January.
The mood was a mix of excitement, nerves, jet lag and jubilation as the group pulled up outside The Red Tree Lodge in Fernie, which will act as home for the winter season to many of the course participants. Having arrived in the evening after a long days travel from the UK, most of the guys hit the sack to begin the adjustment to Canadian mountain time.
Wednesday morning breakfast was the first time the entire group came together for their first sample of the excellent breakfast served up at the Redtree lodge and a welcome speech from NONSTOP hosts Dave Richards and Adam Guilfoyle. After filling their stomachs the group was split into smaller groups and given a guided tour of the town and the resort area up at Fernie ski hill. The mood was buoyant and excitable as the characters among the groups revealed themselves with light hearted banter to keep the guides on their toes.
Wednesday night was the official welcome dinner and everyone was in fine form, including the instructors who joined us for dinner to start to get to know the people they would be working with over the coming 11 weeks. The food was exceptional with the chefs using the occasion to show off their creative flare to the approval of all who attended.
Thursday morning came around and it was time to hit the slopes for the first time for many of the group this season. The organisation was seamless and all the groups were on the chairlift within minutes of arriving up at the hill. The nerves and a desire to impress was evident amongst the clients, as everyone was given a guided tour of the mountain to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings. I was lucky enough to meet up with Jonno Squires and his group in the afternoon for a few laps in one of my favorite of the five bowls in Fernie, Cedar Bowl. Jonno is an experienced NONSTOP instructor and has an intimate knowledge of the NONSTOP programme and ethos. His unique style of instruction combines classic one line sayings that I refer to as ‘Jonno-isms’ and technical explanations which get the mind and body working together. The afternoon was informative and lots of fun!
Day one was a low intensity cruise about in order to allow everyone to find their ski legs once again. As the day drew to an end it was all smiles and positive feedback for the instructors who had once again shown why they had been handpicked to teach the NONSTOP 11-week ski and snowboard instructor programme.
Thursday night was open mike night at The Brickhouse bar in Fernie town centre. Among the many great acts on show were two of NONSTOP’s own budding musicians, Jim Darlow (acoustic guitar) and Stephanie Oliver-Holmes (vocals). They were greeted warmly by the crowd and gave a great rendition of several classic and fan favourite songs- Well done Jim and Steph for putting together such a performance on such short notice!
Following the great night out at the Brickhouse, there were a few fragile people upon the 9:30am bus to the hill. However after they had digested another fantastic breakfast from the Redtree and the prospect of another great day on the hill had set in, all ill affects from the previous night’s antics dissipated and the groups hit the slopes for another excellent day of skiing and snowboarding. I had the privilege of skiing with a female instructor called Axelle from Grenoble in the morning and what a fun filled morning it turned out to be. We began the morning with a quick warm up lap followed by some boot skiing to work on stance and balance and then some penguin slides to work on……well, sliding like a penguin! It was superb fun and loved by all involved who ended up in a pile on the floor in fits of laughter!
My afternoon was spent skiing with another female instructor from Ontario called Camille. I thought my fun morning could not be matched but Camille rose to the occasion and provided excellent instruction and entertainment for the whole group. The group dynamic was excellent and everyone got on like a house on fire! Incredible to think they had only known each other for a matter of days! It was a real treat for me to ski with three different instructors in two days as I got to see first hand the different teaching styles of the NONSTOP instructors, which is so crucial to the diverse nature of the training provided to the course participants. The one thing all three instructors had in common was the evident in depth knowledge of skiing and ski teaching. Having chatted with some of the snowboard coaches and the guys in their groups, it is clear that they too are the top of their game.
Friday night was spent at the Royal Pub for my birthday celebrations. It was a great night and I got to meet many of the NONSTOPpers I had yet to speak to. The night was fun filled with pool, dancing, chatting and the occasional beverage……as you do! Thank you to everyone who made it out to help me celebrate the quarter century milestone!
So that rounds off a great first few days the participants of the Fernie 11-week ski and snowboard instructor course. The fun continues this week as the instructors will begin to step things up and start getting down to the business of making snow sports instructors! The Level 1 exams are the first challenge! Good luck everybody and have fun!
By Adam Hillier