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Kellie Haggitt, 17, from Brisbane, with Rachael Milner CREDIT: Central Otago Polytechnic
(L to R) Tom Gill (NZ), Kellie Haggit (Aus), Rachael Milner and Robert Barry (NZ) CREDIT: Central Otago Polytechnic
The snowsports group with instructor Kyle Kostohris CREDIT: Central Otago Polytechnic
Young aspiring snowsports professionals are flocking to Central Otago to turn their passion into a career with an innovative teaching programme.
The popular Wanaka-based programme spearheaded by Otago Polytechnic takes students mountain-side to gain a certificate in snowsports instruction -- and this year has seen yet another intake of maximum capacity.
Almost 50 students in total have enrolled for the Certificate in Snowsport Instructing (Ski or Snowboard) and the Certificate in Avalanche Safety Management and Snowsport Instructing (Ski or Snowboard) at Cardrona Alpine Resort.
The snowsports instructing course, which started in late May and runs to October, has a unique and cost-effective method of teaching that involves valuable work experience where students shadow instructors before taking sole charge of their own lessons.
Otago Polytechnic Programme Manager Peter Bilous said the increasing number of students came mainly from Kiwi school leavers and that it met a growing demand for instructors in the snowsports industry.
“As far as I’m aware there are no other courses in New Zealand, or anywhere else in the world, that offer this type of programme for would-be instructors.”
Cardrona Snowsports Instructor Training Centre Manager Rachael Milner said the nine skiers and 16 snowboarders in the snowsports instructing group ranged from the youngest at 17 to the oldest at 39, both from Australia.
“However most of them are 18 and 19-year-olds from around New Zealand and they’re doing really well,” she said.
“The course is a combination of intensive classroom time and on-snow training. Everybody taught some lessons during the school holidays. It also involves learning about customer service, policies and procedures, so it’s much more comprehensive than anything else on offer.
“Because they are students, at the end of their course they qualify for a J1 work visa for the States. This combined with their qualification and work experience makes them very employable and most students take the opportunity to go overseas to teach for a season. Many of them end up in the most prestigious resorts in the Sates -- last year students went to Vail, Aspen, Park City and Telluride."
Otago Polytechnic is also the leading provider of professional avalanche safety training in New Zealand and is responsible for issuing NZ Mountain Safety Council (NZMSC) certificates in avalanche safety. Otago Polytechnic is the only provider that provides more advanced Stage 2 training and the Diploma in Avalanche Studies.
“The diploma was designed and developed through extensive industry consultation to meet New Zealand’s needs,” said Mr Bilous. “We looked worldwide for solutions before adopting and adapting courses from the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). As a result our course really does mean our students are getting the very best resources and training in the world.
“We have a great relationship with Cardrona and together we’re producing highly skilled instructors who often go on to work there or continue training at a higher level.”
Last year 41 students successfully graduated from the snowsports courses.
For more information please visit www.otagopolytechnic.ac.nz and www.avalanche.ac.nz.