Ski stars swot up on slopes

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It’s back to school this week for five members of the New Zealand Alpine Ski Team. 

Tim Cafe, Ben Griffin, Harriet Miller-Brown, Leighton Winsloe and Andrew Wylie are undertaking exams at Queenstown’s Coronet Peak for their Level 2 instructor qualification. 

Under a new initiative between the NZ Ski Team and the NZ Snowsports Instructors Alliance (NZSIA), the five are also part of an ambassador programme aimed at promoting instructing and teaching as a career path. 

“We anticipate they will be able to spread the word to the likes of the kids involved in the Queens­town Alpine Ski Team, so that those kids who may not necessarily make it into the big time will be able to see a possible career pathway in teaching or coaching,” NZSIA ski course manager Stephanie Brown says. 

The five ambassador programme athletes have all independently obtained their Level 1 or equivalent qualification, she explains. 

Their Level 2 instruction was cut from eight days to six “’cos we figure they don’t need to work on their skiing too much”. This week’s exam, which started on Tuesday, runs till Sunday. 

“The exam will involve the same as regular Level 2 [skiers],” Brown says. 

“They’ll be assessed on their low-end demonstrations, like wedge turns and wedge christies, and on their basic parallels – they find it quite hard to go that slow. 

“They’ll also be assessed on planning and teaching lessons for intermediate skiers. 

“We’re going to have trouble assessing their skiing because we might not be able to keep up with them to see what they’re doing.” 

Brown says the five athletes will become fully-certified ski instructors after they attain their Level 3 qualifications.
“We would love it if some of them also got involved as trainers in our system.” 

Queenstowners Nils Coberger, Stefan Crawford and Fiona Boyer are examples of former ski racers who started their coaching careers as NZSIA examiners, Brown says – Coberger is presently the NZ Ski Team’s men’s head coach. 

Brown expects many of the ambassadors will also be keen to become top-level coaches. 

“A lot of them could also get jobs overseas in the NZ summer and make decent money, and because they’re good skiers they’d pretty much get snapped up by ski areas overseas.”