Italy, to Canada and all the way home

Find out about our team leader, Denni

Denni is one of our Team Leaders at Snow Factor. She also instructs and coaches ski racing for the Snow Factor Racing Team, here’s her story of how she got into skiing and ultimately ended up in her position….

Name: Denni
Age: 26
Discipline: Skiing & Ski Racing
Time Skiing: 14 years 
Time instructing: 4 years 
Places Skied: Italy, Canada, Switzerland and Scotland

How and Why I Started Skiing

I didn’t start skiing until I was in my first year of high school; the school I attended went on a ski trip to Italy ever year and so, one day we were asked if we were interested in taking ski lessons at Hillend Dry Slope in Edinburgh. These lessons happened every Tuesday evening during term time. I still remember getting on the bus for the first time to go to the dry slope. The Bus was full of people from first year to sixth year with all different abilities of skiing. It’s about a 45 minutes bus journey from my school to get to Hillend. The closer we got more I excited about going skiing for the first time. The first few lessons flew in and I fell in love with skiing straight away. I was about a year into ski lessons with my school when my first opportunity to go to Italy came up. The trip was a planned for a week before Christmas giving us another 6 months of lessons before we went away. Every week we attended lessons I got more and more excited about going away.  A couple of weeks before we were due to go the school organised a day trip to Snow Factor so that we could try skiing on snow for the first time before we went away. This was a strange experience for all of us that had only skied on dry slope before. Skiing on snow was a lot faster than dry slope and it took us a good few runs to get used to the feeling of real snow but after we adapted to it, everyone was having a great time and it got us all excited about going away in just a couple of days.

Making it to the mountains

The day of the trip finally arrived the only downside was we had to get up a 4am and get on a bus for about 30 hours. This was a bit off putting at the time to my teenage self, but as soon as we left the excitement about being in the mountains for the first time took over and made the rest of the journey fly in. Arriving in the mountains was big change compared to the dry slope but I fell in love with it almost straight away. Over the course of the week we went to 3 different ski areas allowing us to experience all the different runs and terrain available. Before I knew it the week was over and it was time to return home.  I already couldn’t wait for the next time the following winter.

For the love of race

Returning to the dry slope after the trip pushed me to become a better skier. This is when I was introduced to ski racing. Every Thursday night I would attend racing training at Hillend with LRSA. I was now skiing every Tuesday and Thursday nights plus any other chance I got to get more practice. Race training was a totally different experience. I went back to pretty much being a beginner again which my younger self did not enjoy.

Race training really brought out my competitive side and made me push myself more and more. I continued to race for my school and attend the yearly ski trip until I left in 6th year. After leaving school I was lucky enough to be asked to go back as a helper for the next ski trip. This was super exciting I couldn’t wait to get back to the mountains. It also first sparked my interest in becoming a ski instructor. Once I returned from this trip I started looking into instructor training courses for the following season. I found myself struggling to decide where I would go do a season. After what felt like months I finally managed to narrow it down to two choices. The first one was Val d’Isere in France and the second Lake Louise in Canada. Taking some more time to thinking about it I finally decided that Canada was the option for me. I signed up for an instructor training course with Base Camp starting in November and running until April.

The months building up to me going away seemed to take ages.  In this time I continued to ski as much as I could so that I was ready for going away. Finally November arrived and it was time for me to leave. I arrived in Banff at the start of November and had a few days to get settled before my training started.

From Rookie to the Rockies

The first two weeks of being at Lake Louise were all about training towards my level 1 exam which was scheduled for the end of November. Training went by super quick and before I knew it I had passed!  My level 1 ended on the Friday and I was straight into teaching with Lake Louise Ski School on the Monday. For the next few months I continued to work with the ski school and attend training for my level 2 which I had booked for the start of March. Waking up every morning and knowing I could ski some of the best terrain in the world was amazing. Every day was a different experience from days with very deep powder to bluebird days where you could see the entire valley. Powder days were amazing fun on my off days but did make teaching young kids challenging as they would just sink in the deep snow and get stuck.

Next thing I knew, I had passed my level 2 exam. I was super excited about passing knowing that all the skiing and training had paid off. Unfortunately a couple of weeks after passing my level 2 I ended up getting injured on one of my off days skiing in a mogul field. This ended my season and a few days later I returned home to get surgery. Even with my season ending earlier than I planned, I still had an amazing time.

The draw of the mountains

A few months after returning home it was time for me to get a regular job. I was gutted that I wouldn’t be able to return to Canada for another season and it wasn’t long before I was missing the mountains and skiing. The following winter I signed up to work in Courmayeur. I couldn’t wait to get back out to the mountains and start teaching again. I had previous been to Courmayeur in summer mountain biking so I was keen to get out and see what it was like in the winter and experience a new resort.

Working in Courmayeur was completely different from working in Canada. Every week was a different school group and some weeks the resort was packed full of school kids. I was skiing 6 days a week and remembered why I loved being in the mountains and teaching.

For the last 4 years I have been working at Snow Factor. I started working here as a part time ski instructor and now a Slope Team Leader. I still ski as much as I can and have been lucky enough to return to ski in Canada and Italy for holidays along with a trip to Saas- Fee and the occasional day up North in Scotland, weather permitting :).