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CSIA level 1 course preparation

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My 16 year old son has been advised to do CSIA Level 1 as a four day course in Whistler next year. Excellent carving technique, good in moguls and very good off piste. What preparation should he do. We are based on UK and he will be doing A levels, so cannot do a four week course. Are there any one week preparation courses?
post #2 of 14

Just getting some lessons with a level 3 or 4 beforehand should be sufficient, it's not a high standard of skiing. For what purpose is he taking the exam? Does he want to instruct in Canada? Do you know you can do BASI L1 in the domes in the UK?

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks Jim

Tom is thinking of spending a season in Whistler when he finishes his A Levels and BASI 1 may  not enable him to teach there but CSIA enables instructing in the UK. I'll take your advice on level 3/4 coach and will also look into BASI 1

post #4 of 14

Welcome to Epic Sue!


You should visit the CSIA web site = http://www.snowpro.com/en/programs/certifications


Understand that most people (especially teenagers) taking this course are not going to have done a lot of preparation. Whether one is planning on becoming an instructor or not, these kinds of courses can be very effective at improving one's expert skiing skills and a lot of fun. My recommendations here would fall into the "overkill" category. 4 days is plenty to get started. Understand that once one starts teaching, training never stops.


Read the course guide. There is an online workshop, which is basically reading 4 chapters out of the manual. Watch the skiing demos for all the cert levels on the site.


For skiing skills, it sounds like your son has things covered. If your descriptions are accurate, no lessons are needed. If money is not an object, a private lesson with a CSIA 4 in Whistler would be a ton of fun and a great head start (do that on day 2 and tell the pro about the CSIA course). A group lesson (on day 1) is more than enough. One thing that often catches folks in these kinds of classes is wedge turns. Practice those and wedge christies before hand. 


People skills are evaluated. Practice making eye contact and smiling. There's a difference between a forced smile and a truly happy smile. See if you can video your son and catch him in both kinds. It is possible to get better at smiling. Have him tell a story on the video and see if he can smile and talk at the same time. Make sure he enunciates when he talks and check his talking speed. IfhetalkslikeanItalian - get him to slow down. Can he be heard and understood from 15 feet away? With snow guns blowing? Practice talking slower and faster, softer and louder until the right blend for teaching is found and he has the ability to consciously change how he talks. Observe how his teachers talk in school. Remember that part of the evaluation is how well you can be taught. Some people take these kinds of courses believing that they already know everything about how to ski. You have to balance confidence while teaching with humility while learning.


Teaching skills. Can he teach someone how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Have him write down a cook book set of instructions and then follow them to see how many ways you can make it wrong (e.g. spread jelly on the crust instead of the side of the bread, put the slices together with pb&j facing out instead of together). Develop a  5-10 minute practice teaching session for some kind of physical activity (e.g. corner kick in soccer, juggling, shooting a foul shot in basketball) that follow the lesson structure model in chapter 3 of the online prep.


Get in shape. Whistler is not very high altitude, but aerobic shape can help. Can he run a mile in under 7.5 minutes/5 miles in under 45? If he's been working out in a gym, I recommend checking leg muscle balance by comparing weight lifted for leg extensions vs curls. Curl weight should  be >33% and <75% of extension for same # of reps. If he's just been active doing a variety of normal kid sports this won't be a problem. Find some exercises to develop balance and stretches to develop flexibility. Improve both between now and the course. 


Gear. Skis should be freshly tuned. Got a helmet? Bring spare gloves, lip balm, goggles, etc. Rain gear is recommended. Sunblock is required. Visible duct tape is a no no. Replace any worn apparel or gear.


post #5 of 14

As far as the skiing goes in level 1, all he will be graded on are his demonstration skills in wedge turns (snowplow), intermediate parallel, and some basic free-skiing. He will be required to show the 3 basic competencies of being 'centered and mobile', 'turning with the lower body' and 'balancing on the edges' at the 'aquisition' level... meaning he has a basic understanding of the skills and can apply them without too many variables thrown in. By your description it sounds like he is already well within this level although he will need to be open to change. Many candidates are fooled thinking that if they can ski fast on a variety of terrain then there should be no problem... but he will need to adapt his technique to what the course conductors will be looking for.


As for the teaching side of things... As long as he pays attention during the course, he should get a basic understanding of CSIA technique and the teaching methodology. A good attitude and confidence in front of a group are often the determining factors at this level.


All that being said... It may be tough to get a job in Whistler with just a CSIA level 1 these days as job competition is getting pretty fierce. If he needs a visa sponsorship  he will likely need at least level 2 and a couple years experience... although if he has his own working visa and shows up at the right time he may get lucky. He may have better luck with some of the less popular resorts to gain that initial experience.

post #6 of 14

Agree with the others.


CSIA L1 is designed for those with no teaching experience.  So it is common for many L1 candidates to show up with no prior training or work done and pass.  As Skinerd wrote the key is being able to demonstrate the 5 skills at a competent level, at moderate speed on moderate terrain.  Likely he will need to adapt his current technqiue somewhat, so being able to do that is important. 


If I understand your post thou, his plan is to do the course next year, and then return to Whistler the following year to teach.  Again as Skinerd pointed out, a CSIA L1 is by no means guarantee of a job in the Whistler ski school, and would not likley warrant being sponsored on a visa, so he would have to get his own.  Having said that Whistler does hire lots of L1s for kids programs.


Another option might be to actually do the L1 in November of the year he plans to spend in Whistler.  The reason is, many of the L1 Examiners are ski school supervisors, thus he would get a chance to get to know the people who would hire him...if he makes a good impression then chances are he will be offered a job at the end of the course.  If he does the course a year earlier, then he may miss out on this opporutnity as there is no guarntee the examiners he met will be in the same position the following season.


Another option is to join one of the Gap Year programs...like Section 8.  Whistler has a ton too.  These are very popular, and would improve his skiing heaps, and be tons of fun, lots of young guys his age hanging out and skiing, training etc for 2-12 weeks or more, plus he will almost certainly get his L1 by the end of it and many leave with their L2.  This is obviuolsy more expensive, but instead of snowplowing in the coral with 6 year olds on poweder days (ski teaching is great....but sometimes reality does bite) he will be up in the alpine ripping it up with guys his age and ability all while being trained by some of the best coaches anywhere.



Also if you post a video or even some still shots of him skiing, myself or Skinerd could give you a good idea if he appears close to the standard or not.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you everybody

There is clearly much for us to think about and the point of waiting until the year he actually wants to come out is well made. The reasdon for possibly doing the Level 1 earlier is that it also enables Tom to potentially use it in the UK although BASI is much better known here but a much longer curse. We do have a Youtube clip but it is a bit old (he also looks very young on it but he is now 16). The filming was done by me using the iphone and used for his GCSE, so it is a bit limited.





you also get to it by googling Tom Whittaker skiing GCSE on youtube


Best wishes


post #8 of 14

Not bad!


I think he would be a reasonable Level 1 prospect for sure. Key will be to keep an open mind and being willing to make changes as required. I dont think a whole lot of "pre-work" would be required. 



post #9 of 14

Is there no age limit for taking the L1 at CSIA or PSIA and working as a ski instructor in Canada or the US?

post #10 of 14

Yeah I agree with skidude... looks like a typical candidate (fairly strong) with regards to skiing and should be fine as long as he is adaptable to different turn shapes and adjusting technique for the ability level of the students.

Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post

Is there no age limit for taking the L1 at CSIA or PSIA and working as a ski instructor in Canada or the US?

Age requirements for a course was 16... but may have bee reduced to 15... not sure???


post #11 of 14

It's in the Level 1 Course Guide



The Level 1 ski instructor certification is for any skier over the age of 15 that is a competent parallel 


post #12 of 14

Hi Sue. Are you aware that it's possible to take CSIA courses in Andorra through a company called Instructor Academy http://www.instructor-academy.com/ They run a whole range of courses including season long ones but if you and your son are confident of his ability to meet the standard he can book the Level 1 course on its own. I know some people who have booked Level 1 then done Level 2 the following week. If he is at a really good standard this may get him to a the qualification level whereby he is more employable. He would have to be skiing to a good level as there is quite a jump from Level 1 to 2. As I say I know at least 2 people who've done it this way. One passed both and was ecstatically happy the other only passed Level 1 and was far from happy. It's just an idea.

post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks Adie and all you guys
Looks that there are lots of options and we will do some more thinking about what we do. Due to a levels Tom won't have a two week skiing period before a gap year. So we will need to decide with him whether to take course next year or wait until 2014 and do a course with Alltracks which also offers a season instructing in Whistler. The advantage of that is that he is in a group and will have made some friends rather than try and find work and accommodation on his own. I am glad for all your comments and help
post #14 of 14

All Tracks is great.

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