The BEST equipment to take on an Instructor Course!
When it comes to proper equipment selection, there are a number of factors to consider, not the least of which is the aim and focus of the program you have registered for. As a trainer, I more often than not see course candidates arrive for the season with equipment that is ill suited to the task at hand. If you have signed on for an instructor training program, then the latest and greatest park skis are probably not what you want to be sliding on, and on the flip side, if you are planning on attending an all mountain or all terrain program then the frontside race or carving ski is about as useful as a surfboard when it comes to skiing in terrain.
The best way to ensure that you are properly outfitted for your winter is to find a shop that truly understands the needs of your program. These retailers are most likely found in the resort that you have chosen for the season, and they will understand the equipment requirements of the program, as well as what a typical winter is like in that location, therefore steering you in the right direction when it comes to ski and board selection.
When searching for a shop to outfit you for the slopes it is always good practice to take a look at their boot program. Any retailer, ski or snowboard, who is worth their weight, will sell boots by fit rather than brand. If a shop doesn’t take the time to properly measure your foot, and then shell size the boot to your foot with the liner removed, turn around and walk out the door. As the most crucial interface between athlete and snow, properly fitted boots are THE ESSENTIAL piece of equipment for your success in your season long program. When getting fitted, remember that you are looking for performance first and that may mean that the boot seems a bit tighter than what you may have been exposed to during ski or snowboard vacations. Not to worry, as a reputable retailer will always guarantee the fit of the boot, and be very willing and capable of making adjustments and modifications to both the shell and liner of the boot to ensure a perfect fit. This will give you maximum control and comfort for all day on the slopes.
After finding that perfect set of boots, it’s now time to focus on other equipment needs. Forget the marketing hype that the ski and snowboard manufacturers are attempting to feed you and take a serious look at what your course or program curriculum entails. If you have enrolled in an instructor training program it is probably not very wise to show up on the first day with a pair of 110mm waisted twin tip skis, or the latest and greatest reverse camber park board. While both of these examples are excellent choices for the very specific use they were intended for, they are hardly the tools that one would want to use in order to hone the technical intricacies of skiing and snowboarding to the point of passing an instructor certification. For skiers, an all mountain ski is probably the best option, with a waist not exceeding 80mm, and ideally with something close to a 75mm waist. This shapely ski will allow you to carve on the groomed slopes, be playful in the bumps and still offer reasonable performance off piste. Anything wider than 80mm underfoot dramatically decreases the skier’s ability to effectively create grip, therefore making technical skiing much more difficult. While you could possibly be successful achieving your goals, think of trying to master skiing on a wide ski as you would swimming dragging an anchor. You can do it if you are strong but it takes a lot of extra work.
If you are a snowboarder, put the park boards aside and start looking for an all mountain rip stick that is designed for all over the mountain shredding. Just like the skiers, you are looking to master the basic snowboarding skills so unless you are Jeremy Jones, don’t show up with his board. Pro models are designed and built for their namesake riders and chances are their goals on the mountain are very different than yours. When shopping, look for a progressive flex and sidecut to maximize your development over the season.
A final word on skis and boards…..Buy for where you want to be, not where you are now ability-wise…..within reason. Be honest with yourself and with the shop sales staff regarding your ability at the moment. If you typically take a two week ski holiday every year and you have been skiing for 7 years that’s still less than a hundred days on snow spread out over a long period of time. Imagine learning to read but only being allowed to learn for two weeks a year and then not attempting to read again for another year. It would probably take a lot more than 7 years to truly become literate. Skiing is the same way. If you are honest with the sales force about time on snow and with yourself as to where you really are in your development then they can steer you to a product that will truly help you become the absolute best skier or snowboarder you can become, and you will have the best season of your life!
A note about the author…
Andrew Matergio is an active CSIA Level 4 teaching certified trainer and examiner at the Lake Louise Ski and Snowboard School and has trained hundreds of instructor training program participants over the last twelve seasons. He is also a co-owner and managing partner at Soul Ski and Bike in Banff Alberta Canada, a Scorpio and all around good guy.
Do you have the right gear for the season? Call our team of experts today and find out what is best for you.
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