What’s it Like Being a Snowboard Instructor?

So for the last 4 or 5 years, I’ve been a snowboard instructor in the winter. Here in Minneapolis, the winter is cold, we usually shred on ice, but you forget it all when you’re on the hill.

Being an instructor is probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Sure there’s a good amount of frustration when a 3rd grader doesn’t want to practice carving and instead throws snowballs at the rest of the class. But these are the things that keep you on your toes.

In addition to that, seeing a student link their first turn, or land their first jump is extremely exciting. it’s like reliving the first time when I was learning.

In addition to that, I get to teach some solid life lessons. Most of the time it’s about facing your fear and pushing forward.

I remember one time I had a student that was lagging behind in my 3rd and 4th-grade classes. She wanted to do better and had skills equal to anybody else in the class. But her fear got the best of her and she’d freeze up.

So I sat at the top of a small chute that went into a blue with her, the rest of the class had dropped in and was a good way down.

I talked with her for a minute. Encouraged her to face the fear, and I’d be with her the whole way down. I’ve never seen anybody so excited when we got to the bottom.

She would, later on, become one of the faster students, and I’d have to reign her in, but that’s another story.

The Day To Day Life Of A Snowboard Instructor

I work for a snowboarding/ski school that travels around Minnesota called SkiJammers. My experiences or job function might differ somewhat because I’m not stationed at a resort, however, 90% of my time working is spent with my students, and the other 10% is with the other instructors at the bar or if we decide to hit up the hill after the day is done.

First off, I’ll go over the boring parts:

With Skijammers our snowboard instructors will travel to almost every resort in the Twin Cities area. At the time of this writing, theirs like 6-7 resorts within driving distance. I’ve written reviews on most of them, and I’ll tag them if I refer to them in this post. In addition to that, I’ll usually have the same class for the entire season, which is great for rapport.

Your class will really begin to trust you when you’ve been teaching them for a few weeks straight.

As a snowboard instructor, you need to prepare more on the day of shredding. Usually, I’ll show up at the resort, and go through team meetings, discuss the day, etc. Then we meet the kids at a rally spot. I’ll take attendance and we try to get on a lift before the skiers do.

Skiers tend to take too long, and I don’t ever wanna be stuck behind 200 of them.

Usually, I’ll have us do some warmups from where we were the week before, and then we’ll go through whatever training I feel we need for some skill tuning.

Snowboard Instructor

When You’re A Snowboard Instructor You Should Always Have A Plan.

Once I had a class and we were meeting at Afton Alps, which is probably the most prominent resort near Minneapolis and Saint Paul. It’s also Vail Owned, so it usually has some decent terrain parks. This can vary depending on the time of the year and if we’re riding on sheets of Ice.

My plan was to get them rolling on the Black Diamonds that I absolutely love there. We’d had some issues the week before and I thought this training session would be perfect for my students.

However, as things often happen when you’re a snowboard instructor, one of my students saw a baby terrain park from a chairlift. . We shifted gears and had the best time playing on boxes and rails for the entire day.

snowboard instructor

A Snowboard Instructor Needs The Ability To Adapt

A lot of these points might be focused on being a snowboard instructor for children. However, I think adults need to change too. I don’t want to be with my students on a hill shredding, and they’re not having fun.

I actually got myself into trouble one time, because we started playing tag on a blue square. I did this for some of my more cautious shredders could learn to trust their edges.

However they got over that real quick, some of the ski school teams joined in, and it became this crazy awesome game. My kids were flying down the hill at high speeds dodging each other, and I had to explain to ski patrol what was going on.

They had a good laugh about it, but also told me it had to stop. There were other people on the hill, and my students were getting dangerously close to hitting them.

I agreed, that fun is first and safety is second. However fun should never supersede safety especially when you have another person’s child in your charge.

In retrospect, I think I adapted well. The game was a success from the standpoint of getting my students to be more comfortable with their edges.

However, it was a failure, because we (supposedly) put other people in danger.

snowboard Instructor

Do you Need Certifications To Be An Instructor?

To be a certified snowboard instructor you need to pass the AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) proficiency exams.

However, you can get a job as an instructor without having the certifications. In fact, most resorts will teach and train you to be an instructor, and help you get your certificate.

I’d highly recommend getting the certification though. It’s usually a fast way to get a raise for something you’re already passionate about.

I hope you enjoyed my latest ramble on being a snowboard instructor. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Add a Comment