From Piste to Profession with Powder Byrne

From Piste to Profession with Powder Byrne

Established in 2009 our Piste to Profession gap year programme has successfully supported over 100 young people to gain their BASI ski instructor qualifications and continues to grow in popularity with record numbers of students joining the 18 week programme.

Piste to Profession (or P2P as it’s fondly known) is a programme designed for gap year students to experience a full winter ski season, learning to become a proficient ski instructor by obtaining the internationally recognised British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) qualification.

Based in Flims, Switzerland, the students live and work as part of the Powder Byrne resort team. In addition to BASI qualification, an important objective of the course is to help students develop the transferable skills that employers look for, along with the opportunity to experience a variety of challenging and exciting snow sports activities. Our P2P students are fully immersed in the experience of a Powder Byrne winter season, living and working alongside our five-star resort team and gaining valuable experience working within the ski tourism industry.

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Kicking off in early-December, the course is jam-packed from start to finish. Our students fly out to Switzerland alongside our full season teams and settle into their accommodation in the heart of Flims before commencing a week of Ski School and Powder Byrne training. Students are kitted out with both Ski School and Powder Byrne uniforms, skis and boots, before they hit the slopes during their training week to test out their ski legs before the real work starts.

After training, the students are launched straight into their basic ski instructor’s course, which allows them to teach in the Swiss Graubunden region. The course is led by one of Flims’ most experienced ski instructors and it gives the students a good idea of what is expected of them when learning to become a BASI qualified instructor. Once this two-week course is complete, the students then shadow some of the best instructors in the Graubunden region so that they can learn some useful hints and tips for when they take their very first lesson.

Not only will the students get to shadow other instructors, but they will also work alongside and shadow our Powder Byrne resort team. Our exclusive children’s ski programmes are the reason that many of our guests travel with us and our P2P students will learn exactly how to deliver the best childcare and children’s ski instruction in the Alps. They will spend some of their days in our recognisable red Powder Byrne ski jackets assisting our Yeti and SnoZone clubs, skiing with children of all abilities, talking to their parents and updating them on the progress their children have made at the end of each ski day.

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Before our P2P students start working towards their BASI 1 qualification, we treat them to a fun trip to Grindelwald for three nights to watch the world famous Lauberhorn downhill race. This is a great opportunity to see the pros ski and soak up the atmosphere in the town where Powder Byrne was first established in 1985. As if watching the pro downhill skiers isn’t exciting enough, we will then take the gang back to Flims where they will then get involved in setting up and watching another huge local event: the Laax open. This event sees some of the world’s most impressive freestyle skiers perform some incredible tricks and our P2P students get front row seats.

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After the events are over, the BASI 1 & 2 qualifications are the main focus for the P2P students. The BASI 1 qualification will take place just before February half term and this qualification allows students to work for Flims Ski School with novice and intermediate skiers. Once they successfully complete the level 1 and have clocked up 35 hours of experience, the students can then move on to their BASI 2 qualification. This is a more technical and challenging qualification to achieve, enabling them to teach alpine skiing up to and including a parallel standard on marked pistes. There is no doubt that BASI 1 and 2 are both challenging and tiring courses that require dedication and commitment, but once the students successfully complete both, the skiing world is their oyster.

In between the courses, we also arrange for the students to have a go at range of other snow sports and disciplines. They will get to experience sports such as ski touring, freestyle, race coaching, telemarking, snowboarding and ice climbing. Outside of their course hours, the students will have plenty of free time to ski and socialise with their course mates and the Powder Byrne resort team. The Flims-Laax-Falera ski area is home to superb on and off-piste and park skiing, as well as some pretty good après ski!

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After the course is completed in April, the students fly back to the UK where we hold our famous Powder Byrne end of season party, inviting everyone who has worked for Powder Byrne over the course of the season as well as our head office staff in London. This isn’t the end of the gap year experience though as Powder Byrne offer future work opportunities to our graduating P2P students. This could be in one of our summer resorts in Portugal, Crete or Elba, or it could be going back to work for Flims Ski School either for the whole season or at peak travel weeks. The P2P course really does bring out the best in our students. It is often the first time they experience living away from home, so it teaches them valuable life skills, they make firm lifelong friends and most importantly, they gain highly coveted ski instructor qualifications that they will use for many years to come.

If you would like any further information on the course, please contact enquiries@powderbyrne.com or call 0208 246 5300.