Getting an instructor level 1 is a good idea, even if you don’t want to pursue a career in snowsports. There are two reasons why you should get an SBINZ level 1.
First reason is that when you’re good at snowboarding, it means that at some point, someone is going to ask you to teach them. I’m 99% sure that you’re a crap instructor if you haven’t been trained to teach.
Being a good snowboarder doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be a good teacher. Which means your students are going to be crap snowboarders and you don’t want to have that on your conscience. Your instructing will create an army of back feet flapping idiots, steering out of control when handling steeps. Please don’t do that to your friends.
Second reason is that you’ll snowboard so much better once you’ve had a session with a trainer. SBINZ level 1 exams provide training as well as the exam. You will improve and in a good way, since your snowboarding will be checked out every moment of the exam and corrected.
There are three good reasons why you should do your level 1 exam in Japan:
- Supermarket jingles
Hokkaido is one of the snowiest places you can snowboard. This means you’ll be doing your exam on a fluffy white cloud. When I stayed there in the winter of 2015-2016, the first snow came in December and then it didn’t stop snowing until the end of February.
Just in case you didn’t understand that last part, let me repeat myself, IT DOESN’T STOP SNOWING FOR THREE MONTHS. You’ll see it all during your season, wet snow, fluffy snow, bumpy slopes from snow accumulation and chairs with hoods. The only thing you won’t see is the sun.
The food is amazing in Japan. Lunchtime consists of a steaming bowl of ramen and sushi. Every supermarket has it’s household jingle that will be engraved in your memory forever. It’s not a bad thing though, given that a few years later, the song will bring back happy memories of you trying to find salt and pepper shakers in between soy sauce bottles.
The home of the SBINZ as the name is short for Snowboard Instructors New Zealand. Every snow resort of a decent size organizes the level 1 exam on different dates. If you fail, which is very unlikely to happen, retake the exam on a later date.
The trainers have moustaches and kiwi accents. Besides stroking that moustache, they will work you hard and you’ll become a better rider at the end of those five days. Although I never had the impression that I was being whipped. Examiners are nice people, so by and by if you shed a tear, they’ll give you a hug.
The only SBINZ exams that are being held on the European continent are in Verbier. Switzerland is a mighty fine country. The Swiss alps are one of the most beautiful places in the world. Falling asleep in summer with the sound of cowbells will have you yodel on a cliff side in no time.
No cowbells in winter though, only badass snow resorts. Verbier is connected to three other resorts by mountain and bus. You’ll need several days to snowboard every single piste. When you’re done with that, take a few extra more days to do the off-piste.
SBINZ organises exams and courses in Switzerland. At least they did so last year. It depends on how much interest there is for courses.
Passing the level 1 exam means passing on two parts: teaching and riding.
For the riding part of the exam, SBINZ has made this very informative video about what they expect from you. The video was shot in Cardrona, in case you were wondering. It’s one of the biggest resorts in New Zealand.
They are the easiest turns you can ever make on a green run. It took me a while to learn them though. Snowboarding in Europe made me use my edges more then I needed, so I spend some time with my trainer working on getting my edge angle low. Spreading the butter, not slicing cheese.
The ollies are not mentioned in the riding task video but you have to do them non the less. Don’t panic if you’ve never done an ollie. It’s fairly easy to learn. On the exam you’ll have to demonstrate it on an easy cat track.
50/50 Over a small Box
This is the stepping stone to jibbing. If you’ve never ridden a box, it’s about time you did. No need to panic, just start off straight lining on the flats until you’re confident and then take it to the easiest box in the park. This means a ride on, small sized box.
The teaching aspect of the exam is very important and you want to make sure you’ve prepared this part. Your examiner will be checking you on safety and fun and you want to make sure that what you say and demonstrate is accurate.
During the five days of the exam you will have some practice teaches. The examiner will do teaching demonstrations so you know what to focus on. SBINZ really focuses on simplicity so you want to keep your talking to a bare minimum. Every explanation should just consist of three things:
Your students will have a hobby in common that should be integrated into your lesson if you want more points. For my exam, I had to incorporate climbing into my lesson. It didn’t really happen because of nerves. Passed the teaching anyway.
Definitely take the exam, it’s a good way to get better at snowboarding. Even starting a new career. For more information on prices and dates go to the New Zealand Snowsport Instructor Alliance website.