My SnowSkool Scholarship in Banff by Shauna Rigby – Week Five

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Course Diaries

We are nearly half way through the course and I still can’t figure out if it’s going by slowly or too fast! The amount of fun we are all having on and off the slopes is incredible. The end of Week 5 was extremely exciting and sad at the same time. We finished our exams and passed our Level 1 but had to say goodbye to the Aussie girls Elly Benson and Glenn Wilson. These two girls were my roommates and will be missed like crazy. The amount of memories we have made is unthinkable and we’re going to be friends for life. It’s only been just over a month since we started the course and I never imagined how hard it would be saying goodbye after such a short time.

The week began with us taking Monday off to revise for our exams. We had to get up early on Tuesday (try 6:45am!) with the bus departing for Sunshine at 8am. When we arrived we all gathered into a large group with we SnowSkoolers joined by some new faces who were also taking their exams. The examiners took us for a warm up run because the temperature was (yet again) – 25o C and then we all met up in the ODD (large cabin on the hill) for a brief talk about what we could expect for the next couple of days. We met the examiners individually and then were sorted into random groups. I was lucky to be put in a group with four other SnowSkoolers. Our first tester was Andrew, a skier with 15 years of instructing experience. We spent much of the morning focusing on balance and after a long lunch with the new people who were in our group, we headed back out and did some boot skiing! This helped everyone with leaning forward and keeping balanced. It was great fun watching everyone fall over but we all got the hang of it by the end. The day went so quickly and within no time it was already 4.00pm and done for the day. It was definitely not a daunting experience!  After dinner that night a few of us joined in for the weekly trivia and my team ended up placing third.

Wednesday was the second day of exams for all skiers. It was another very cold and windy day unfortunately and the drills we were doing didn’t make it any better! Andrew assessed us on snow ploughs ALL morning. We learnt the mobility, sliding, stopping, turning and linking phases of a snow plough. This took a lot of patience as it was extremely slow and cold! Luckily, after lunch we skied some intermediate parallel and warmed up a lot more quickly than in the morning. By the end of what was an extremely productive day, we all knew how to teach a beginner from the very start. The night took us back to Norquay for another GS race. Our crew was a bit bigger this time with Rob Winsley and Joey Jordan joining the team. The course was different to last week with more sneaky sharp turns which were throwing out a lot people – I nearly came out of the course on gate 4! This shows how important it is to take a course inspection so you know what is coming at you fast. Fraser showed off his very tight (new) race suit which he just loves. He knocked off a couple of seconds from last week which was great. We all had another fab night on the slopes with large amounts of encouragement and support for one another. Hopefully next week will bring more SnowSkoolers!

Half way through exam week – Thursday had seem to come so quickly. The whole morning was spent in the ODD revising a heap of theory on snow ploughs and teaching beginners. We watched multiple videos and filled out our booklets. After lunch we swapped instructors and our new one was a man named Charlie. He was a great examiner! I felt I learnt so much in such a short amount of time as we focused on the aspects of teaching all day. Charlie taught us how to upload and unload chairlifts for beginners. It’s surprising how many stages there are to it! One of our drills was to get into pairs and one person would pretend to be an 8 year old child and the other person would be the instructor. Connor and I had a so much fun doing this as we invented some childish games which we called ‘Airplane’ and ‘Chocolate’. Great fun for little kids! After dinner a few of us went into town for some shopping time as we needed to buy our geek/nerd outfits for the karaoke party on Friday night.

Finally it’s Friday, the final day of our Level 1 exams. Everyone was pretty nervous in the morning because we didn’t know what to expect. Charlie took us to the run Wa Wa and I volunteered with another SnowSkooler to be the first instructors of the morning. We split the group into two and both of us took one half. We had to pretend that our groups had never done intermediate parallel turns before. I started off by talking to the group and explaining what I was about to show them, then I did a demonstration and sent each person down individually and assessed what I thought they needed to improve on. Charlie helped me with figuring out what was positive and negative about their runs. I then had to pick one drill that could help fix all the group’s individual problems! That was a tough one but I chose one, then demonstrated it to the group and watched them come down again. It was a successful lesson for both instructors. After a few runs on Wa Wa, Charlie took us to an easier run and the others in the group had to be the instructors and teach snow plough turns to everyone.

The day seemed to drag on for hours but eventually it was 2:30pm and everyone finished up and skied down to the bottom of the gondola where we waited anxiously for our results. After about an hour and half of waiting we finally got called into our groups with our conductors and were given our results.  99% of SnowSkoolers passed! It was a great feeling of relief and accomplishment for everyone.  The bus ride home was very entertaining with most of the boys singing out loud to everyone. After a big dinner we all got our geeky costumes on and prepared for a big night of celebrations! The karaoke was as fun as always with lots of participation from everyone.

This week was a big step in everyone’s lives as we gained official instructing qualifications! Bring on Level 2 next week!

Shauna

For more information on future scholarship programmes, click HERE

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