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Sunday July 31, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Ali Smith has probably trained more Level 1 ski instructors than anyone else in the UK. He's helped more than 1,500 people reach their goal.

"You are here because you all want to become ski instructors and I'm here because that is exactly what I want to help you become. The next few days will be fun, hard work and at the end of it all I hope you might be walking away with a ski instructor certificate in your pocket and a badge on your jacket. You will certainly be better skiers and we will all have had a great laugh. Right let's go skiing guys and girls."

So said 44-year old Ali to his latest band of raw recruits at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hemsptead as the course got underway.

Ali SmithAli Smith (left) with his latest class
















He has run around 150 Level 1 courses over the past decade or so and that means he has helped around 1,500 people become ski instructors.

He has taught across the world from the Alps and Pyrenees to Australia and North America.  He has coached instructors on the dry slope in Dublin and the indoor snow centres of the UK.

He has run 85 courses for the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and 45 for Snowsport Scotland.

Ali Smith now works for the Irish Assocation of Snowsport Instructors (IASI). 

IASI has seen a sharp jump in membership in recent years with the number of members going up from 60 to 350 as it has launched a range of new courses and gained international respect.

Ali is certainly one of its busiest trainers.

And perhaps one of the best.

Ali SmithAli in action
















"I never tire of turning decent recreational skiers into instructors and I love it as much now as I always have.  Actually that's nonsense, I love it even more!" he says after another full day on the slopes of The Snow Centre.

Ali SmithAli keeps them smiling
















He has taught 100's of them in the Snow Centre.

"It is actually very challenging to run a course here in a snow centre as the terrain is limited, there is no downtime sitting on lifts and it can get very crowded, especially at weekends, so we need to find little corners where we can do our work but not get in the way of others."

Ali SmithPassing on the passion
















Ali SmithDrills and exercises
















On the Saturday of the course there were more than 600 people using the slope across the day.

Ali is teaching a new course at Hemel that last 5 days over 2 weekends - a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then the following Saturday and Sunday.

"It's a great idea as it means people only need to take 1 day off work to take the main on-snow parts of the Level 1course."

See here for an earlier PlanetSKI story as we reported on the new course.

The current course sees the usual variety of would-be ski instructors.

There's a dentist who is originally from Iran and a 2nd year University student who lives up the road in St Albans and wanted a challenge over the summer holidays.

There's a 17-year old doing his A levels who has set his heart on working as an instructor in his GAP year and thought it best to qualify before leaving school so he can go straight into it before heading to Uni.

There is a snowboard instructor who wants to gain his ski instruction qualification.

And a senior account manager for American Express who wants to improve her skiing and possibly embark on a career change.

"There is always a huge range of people on the Level 1 course and all bring different skills & backgrounds and that is what makes it so interesting for me as they all learn from each other and help each other out.

"The commonest fault is always posture and balance as the trainees are either too rigid or not balanced over the centre of their ski. Others can ski well but they are too fast with not enough control.  Some lack the necessary communication skills - either by talking too much or not enough!"

"The hardest part used to be telling people that they had failed and will need to practice more and work on the areas that need improvement.  However most know when they are not there and it is not fair to anyone - the would-be instructor or their potential clients - if I pass them when they are not quite at the required standard."

On the 5-day course at the Snow Centre much of the time is spent out on the snow.

Part of the assessment of the trainees standard of skiing - from snowplough turns through to short and long turns at speed.

Then there is the teaching element.

There is also classroom work and video analysis.

Ali SmithUsing the technology
















And presentations on the theory and analysis where Ali both delivers and listens.

"It is really important that this is a two-way process which is not just me talking but everyone else joining in.

Ali SmithTalking
















Ali SmithListening
















On this course 4 of the 6 passed - the others just have small areas to work on and they say they are not put off by failure but rather inspired to crack it.

And that perhaps is Ali's greatest strength - he brings skills out of people.

"I will carry on doing it for as long as I am wanted and people want to learn from me," said Ali.

Judging by his success rate on the present course that will be for a long time to come.

Another course successAnother course success
















Fact Box

For more details about the courses offered by the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors then see here.

Here are the details of the Level 1 qualification.

The courses are run by Alpine Coaching Snowsports that are the licensed providers for the IASI courses. 

The Level 1 licence is one of the recognised qualifications to teach in an indoor centre and forms the starting point for further qualifications if people wish to teach out in the mountains.

IASI is a recognised training and awarding body delivering Snowsport qualifications.

It is recognised by the International Ski Instructors Association, ISIA, and the International Federation of Snowsports Instructors which gives worldwide recognition of its qualifications.

To gain full Level 1 qualification people will also need to do a 2-day first aid course, complete 20-hours of shadowing (assisting instructors) that can be organised free of charge though The Snow Centre and obtain a CRB (Criminal records check) certificate.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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