From skiing in Poland to Team Lead at Snow Factor

Find out about our team leader, will

Ever wondered what makes our instructors tick, or why they even decided to become an instructor at all?? Find out about Will’s journey into ski instructing as one of our Team Leaders….

Name: Will
Age: 26
Discipline: Skiing
Time Skiing: 13 years
Time instructing: 3.5 years
Places Skied: Austria, Canada, France, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland and Poland.

How I got into skiing and why I turned my hobby into job.

It all started one Christmas

When I was 13 my parents took me to Poland for Christmas and to meet family on my Mother’s side. It was the first time seeing snow on Christmas and for my 13th Christmas present my parents bought me a ski lesson. I remember very little of the lesson but I definitely remember being able to stick a couple of planks of wood to my feet and hurtle down a small hill at about 100 mph and come to a big skid at the bottom. No fear, no care in the world and bouncing and rolling over the snow every 10 metres or snow was a good introduction to the world of skiing.

From then on I was hooked on skiing, my next opportunity came the following February half term when I spent a solid 18 hour car journey all the way from the South West of England to Les Arcs in France with my best friend and his parents. I probably never would have had a chance to ski again in my teens and my one previous experience on snow would have been just that, an experience.  I got to visit France several more times over the next few years with them, with the car journey becoming less and less of a hassle with the allure of skiing becoming something I looked forward to every year.

Having skied since he could stand my best friend was very good at skiing and helped give me something to aim for (sometimes quite literately the first time I skied with him). He helped push me on and being competitive, everything he did, I pushed myself on to catch him. That classic monkey see, monkey do was the way I carried on learning how to ski through my teens. I didn’t care about technique, I just wanted to go fast and catch up with my friend and ski everywhere and anywhere.

This is where my pure love of skiing grew. Being able to cruise around a mountain on a beautiful blue sky day with your friends, pushing each other to do new things and go where and when you wanted was the epitome of my love for the sport. It became more than just a sport, it became a culture.

Standing on your own two skis

When I left home to go to university I got to live with a fair few like minded individuals who shared the same love for skiing I did. We all saved up student loans and being savvy students, gave up eating and drinking and made other sacrifices for a few months or so, so we could get a super cheap deal to Morillon in France. We were lucky to borrow a course mate’s parent’s apartment for a week just before Christmas and made the most of skiing and that old student classic: noodles for dinner.

When I finished university, the first thing I thought about was a gap year to escape out to the mountains for a season and ski whenever was possible.
I landed a job as a bar supervisor for a tour company in Zermatt, Switzerland which worked out very well for me. It’s the most spectacular place I have ever been but with a price tag to match. I started work late which meant I got to ski pretty much every day. Work hours were long but my one day off a week was dedicated to skiing and my skiing improved so much over the season that by the time I got back to the UK I had already booked my BASI level 1 ski instructors course.

Turning passion into a career

After completing my level 1 instructors course, I found myself looking around for a proper 9-5 job to start my career on the hamster wheel as so many other people do, but within 12 months I was already longing to be back out in the mountains skiing and being a part of the ski culture and lifestyle. That winter I handed in my noticed and signed up to work
as a resort assistant with a company called Interski who have been established in the Aosta valley in Italy for over 30 years.

The big pull of the contract was that if I worked the season for them, they would train and put me through my BASI Level 2 to allow me to instruct on a mountain in Europe. The downside was working 7 days a week for a winter season as the role was a full on dedicated role. But being able to turn my passion into a purposeful snow sports job opportunity I leapt at the chance and threw myself into instructor training whenever I had time.

Being out in the mountains with high level instructors coaching and mentoring me developed my skiing technically and gave me an excellent toolbox to teach a variety of people how to ski.

I passed my Level 2 and was over the moon, all the graft, and training and 7 days a week of work was worth being able to teach out on a mountain. I spent the rest of the season teaching and I couldn’t have been happier.  I continued to develop teaching skills, and I loved the satisfaction of taking a group of people from never having skied to showing them why I love skiing so much. Instilling the passion for your sport and seeing people take to it and love it was the biggest reward in itself and it’s what lead me to look for a job in the snow sports industry when I returned to the UK.

The pull of a bonnie lass

When I came back to the UK, I moved up to Scotland to be with my girlfriend whom I met on my first season in Switzerland and began work as a ski instructor at Snow factor. It gave me a chance to meet new people and continue to develop my skills teaching children and adults from complete beginners all the way up to moguls coaching. I have been teaching skiing at Snow Factor now for over 3.5 years and within the first year I was promoted to a Team Leader making me responsible for the welfare and performance of a group of other snow sport instructors. We all aim to provide the best experience possible for our clients and we want to share the love of our sport and culture with anyone who wants to come and learn and ride.

Since learning to ski it has opened doors for me to visit different countries, meet so many liked minded people and learn and develop a variety of skills. It has also allowed me to travel, from Canada, to Italy and of course Scotland. I now feel at home in Scotland, it’s excellent to be able to live permanently in a country where you are able to ski each winter and I can work all year round doing what I love every day. If you can ski up North in Scotland, dodging, rocks, heather and encountering 4 seasons in one day, you can ski anywhere. It doesn’t matter how you ski, as long as you can go from A to B with a big smile on your face, no one can tell you you’re doing it wrong.