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Report: Austrian Skilehrer-Anwärter (Basic Ski Instructor) course

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Report: Austrian Skilehrer-Anwärter (Basic Ski Instructor) course

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
From 5th-14th December I was on a ski instructor course based in Kirchberg in the Tyrol. The qualification, Skilehrer-Anwärter, is (theoretically) necessary to teach in an Austrian ski school, though it seems possible to instruct at least temporarily even if you fail the test. Here is a short report.

The Tyrolean Ski Instructor Association (Tiroler Skilehrerverband) runs the course and it costs €583 (not including food or accommodation). There were around 170 participants, both skiers and boarders (about 150 skiers including myself). The course is conducted mainly in German, although German speakers were in the minority, I think. Many participants were from Holland with some Brits and a few other nationalities.

This year there was a lack of snow, particularly at the start of the course, so that for the practical work we spent the first four days on small beginners' slopes at the Hochfeld in St. Johann in Tirol (no real loss for what we were learning; other groups were on the Mockingalm in Kitzbühel). Then there was one day at Pass Thurn (Resterkogel) and the final five days on the Ehrenbachhöhe and Steinbergkogel in the Kitzbühel/Kirchberg ski area. I posted photos of the course in the Austria Snow Report 2011/12 thread, starting here. If you disregard the lack of snow, which rather restricted any free skiing, we actually had quite good weather: one wet and snowy day but otherwise quite pleasant, mostly sun and blue skies, little wind.

The content of the course covers only a basic level of skiing: introduction to the equipment, first steps, schuss, snowplough, snowplough turns, edging and sideslipping, basic carving (which I would call stem christies). A moderate level of personal skiing ability is also expected. The general arrangement was activity on the slopes from 09:00 till 15:00 and then theory from 16:00 till around 18:30 in a hall in Kirchberg. In the practical training, in addition to skiing training, there were half days on Ski Instruction for Children, Alpine Dangers and Snowboarding (you don't need to know snowboarding in advance -though it helps Laughing, the boarding isn't tested; Austrian instructors are encouraged to be "polysportive").

As well as a small pocket summary book and a DVD (which only seems to run on a computer), a folder is provided to accompany the theory lectures. This includes sections on:
1) Safety and Aspects of Work as a Ski Instructor
2) Nature and Environment
3) Ski Equipment
4) First Aid
5) Skiing Technique (which also covers levels above what the course taught)
There was also one brochure on English, which summarises in English very briefly some of the Skiing Technique section (as well as containing some information for non-English speakers: "What's your instructor's name?"). You could also buy an English version of the pocket summary (€5).

The practical training concentrated on basic skills of skiing. The training of those basics was quite intense. I was in a group on nine, 6 Dutch, 1 German and 2 Scots. Mostly I was pulled up for my arm position and lifting the heels of my skis. During the sessions on the slope, every candidate had to make a Lehrauftritt (teach a lesson); I did the snowplough.

Some of the theory lectures were interesting, others largely just repeated what was in the brochures, which was rather boring (a Dutch lad filmed me falling asleep), though I suppose it helped to get the stuff into your head.

On the last day there were theory and practical tests.

The theory test took an hour, with questions in six or seven areas, marked separately. Some questions were multiple choice, others required written answers (in German; you are allowed a dictionary but I doubt if that helps much). Most could be answered with information straight out of the brochures.

The practical test involved only three stations: Snowplough turns, Basic carving and Free Skiing (skiing down a funnel area and stopping at the bottom - I ballsed that up by not listening carefully enough to the instructions and then not stopping at the appointed point Embarassed). One of the testers was Ernst Hinterseer jr., chief of the Kitzbühel Ski School and son of the 1960 Olympic slalom champion, Ernst Hinterseer. Despite the large numbers involved, the practical test was executed quite quickly.

Each section was marked in the Austro-German way with marks from 1 (good) to 5 (fail). I only managed a 4 in the skiing section but that seemed quite common. I didn't have any trouble with the theory (but I can speak German).

General comments:
I enjoyed the course, although the training was quite intensive and sometimes repetitive. Some felt that there was too little positive feedback, only criticism, but that may only have been our trainer's style and it didn't bother me - I expected criticism. Two of the Brits I met on the course had just done BASI 2 in Switzerland and thought that that contained a good deal more skiing technique (as in the German course I did a good while ago). I think the course would be better if it also contained the next sections of the Austrian ski instruction method: parallel turns and carving with long and short radius turns (but I guess the course would then have to be longer and more expensive). I also thought that some of the time used for theory lectures might have been better used giving video correction.

In my group of nine six passed; my skiing 4 still allowed me to pass - only a mark of 5 means that a section has to be repeated. Those who weren't successful only have to repeat the section(s) they failed in (but have to pay for the pleasure, €45 I think). The two Brits I was friendly with both failed in sections of the theory exam because of problems with German. So it seems that you should have at least a basic grasp of German for the course.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
espri, I'm looking forward to some lessons from you when I'm out at end January !
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
That'll be expensive Laughing
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
I speak pretty much no German but a few years ago before I thought about university I was speaking to someone about teaching in St Anton / Arlberg in general and they were telling me something along the lines of being able to be examined in English to teach english speaking clients, while attending (possibly compulsory) German lessons in the evening to pick up the language? The guy I was talking to was an instructor himself but this seemed a little too good to be true, have you heard of anything like this?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Jakejenks, I did the Anwaerter in St Anton and taught there for a season afterwards (08/09), we had no option to be tested in English (and I really doubt there is now) - although we were basically encouraged to cheat on the written test (it's super common sense, apart from being in German). In the end I failed the written/German test anyway, and had to re-do it (wasn't able to teach in the mean time) two weeks later in Fiss (a mate also had to redo the skiing part at the same time). You're allowed a dictionary and stuff, although it didn't help me much - one of the examiners actually came over halfway through and helped me translate the questions/answers.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
I too know of no possibility for taking the test in English (and, at least in my group, virtually all of the on-piste training, including the candidate teaching a lesson (Lehrauftritt), was done in German; I think other trainers may have been more flexible there). Obviously the Brits in our group would have preferred to take the test in English.

Some of our failed candidates did think that they would be able to teach before taking the re-sit but that surprised me. The trainers did help a bit during the exam, with translation (and more).
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
espri, congratulations, well done. I did the course in 1998 or 99 in Obergurgl. I passed (like you, I'm a German speaker) but quite a few Dutch failed on theory due to lack of German. The other Brit failed on ski technique I think, as did probably 10pc of people. Most on my course were Austrian (local to the area) and probably some Germans. The year I did it, the Bundessportheim in Obergurgl (v basic dorm-style building) was under reconstruction so we were put up in the hotel Edelweiss, rather a nice four-star, for the same price.

I don't remember there being much of a free skiing section, so the content / test may have changed since my time. What has not changed is that the training in the basics was quite intense, as you say. It was all about the snowplough, stem turn and very precise positioning all round, which I thought was good.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
For completeness: in the summary above I forgot to mention that there is also a mark given by the group trainer for your efforts during the course (including teaching a lesson).
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