I am a snowboard instructor. When I say this, images of snow covered mountains and helicopter drops might pop up in your head. Or perhaps you see goggle tans and beardy mountain men/ women. Perhaps you’re thinking of an après-ski scene with mulled wine and schlager music.
Perhaps you’ve always wanted a more adventurous life. Perhaps you have read other posts on my blog and got inspired to become an instructor. Before you pack your bags full of fantasies and delusions, here’s a reality check for you. The career path that you are about to choose will be the worst decision you will ever make. I hope this might scare you off because we don’t want any outsiders to take our jobs.
Please do stay at home, in your comfort zone. Being a snowboard instructor sucks for these reasons.
The burned Crust of the Pizza
That’s right, being a snowboard instructor is not a ticket to riding powder all day long. As we like to talk about analogies, compare it to a pizza.
Imagine you ordered your favorite pizza at your favorite restaurant. Steaming on your plate, you cut a piece ready to follow the white rabbit to Deliciousnessland. But as you take a bite, you notice something’s wrong. You spit it out. Tears run down your cheeks as you notice that the crust is burned.
How could this have happened? Why didn’t you notice the burned crust before? Why didn’t you listen to everybody around you when they told you that pizza crusts always got burned in this restaurant? Why didn’t you just order spaghetti? Spaghetti never gets burned…
Your experience is ruined and eating pizza will never be the same again.
Welcome to the snow sports industry. Where burned pizza crusts are part of every snowboard instructor’s diet. We happily gobble it down though, since we can’t afford anything else to eat.
We get paid pretty crap for what we do. After you pay rent and buy new gear, there’s not much left. Prepare yourself for a winter eating nothing but cabbage and canned chickpeas or living off the cafeteria’s leftover food. Expect to pay outrageous deposits on your flat while sharing your room with three other people. If you own a car, you’ll have neither time nor money to go anywhere but work.
Spend two-thirds of your wage on Rent
Staff accommodation is the bomb. Sharing a room with two people for only $170 per week. What a bargain! Comes with the necessary 2 am party, followed by the 4 am party and the vomit in the bathroom.
Other option is the local campground for $110 per week. For an extra $20 have five different flavors of Indomie Noodles included in your stay.
travel with an insane amount of gear when the weight limit is 30 kg
Weight limits of planes are thirty kg. As you try to fit your snowboard, boots plus your skis, boots and poles into the super oversized snowboard bag, you’ll find out that you’ve already crossed the weight limit.
Oh well, at least there is no limit on how much clothing you can wear going through customs. This is how you end up on the plane wearing six thermals under a winter jacket on a lovely New Zealand summer’s day.
When on the Job
Spend the whole Day on the Magic Carpet
About seventy percent of lessons are for beginners, most of them kids. This means going up and down the bunny slope all day long. Soothe your agony by stuffing your face with candy and hot chocolate.
On a Powder Day
Dreaming of bottomless powder? Don’t we all.
One of the reasons why I love snowboarding so much is because I got to experience powder in France, powder in Canada and powder in Japan. In my dreams, the mountains are permanently bombarded with snowstorms, leaving behind a magic carpet of fairy dust.
In reality, working at a resort during a powder day is a nightmare. First, because it brings out the masses, which means parents will be eager to send their kids to a lesson so they can ride. Second, if you’re not teaching you’ll be snow shoveling. Digging out pathways, digging out the magic carpet, digging out the carpark.
Spend the Winter teaching Skiing
At the start of the season, you will be asked the question: “Can you ski?”. To which I always politely answer: ”Yes, I do.”. And this, my friends, will be your doom. You’ll be on skis for the rest of the season and your superiors will forget they’ve hired you as a snowboard instructor.
Then you’ll wonder while riding the magic carpet why you didn’t finish your engineering degree in the first place.
Hang out with a Bunch of 20-year olds
Fill your evenings with endless drinking or conversations about endless drinking. It’s easier if you get into the groove when you’re drunk yourself.
Growing into my thirties though, I got bored of doing that. Hanging out and getting drunk excites me as much as watching a whole season of the Game of Thrones without a fast forward button.
Other hot topics to talk about are:
• What do I want to do with my life?
• Boyfriends, girlfriends and exes
• How hard it is to exist without my high school friends
Or my personal favorite: “My mom/dad/boyfriend/girlfriend/dog/cat doesn’t agree with my choices”.
Still thinking about becoming a snowboard instructor? Forget all about it unless you enjoy a life of misery and hurt. It will get you nowhere near a life of plentiful. Stay safe and stay at home. Listen to your parents because they know what’s best.
Also, your partner might die while you’re away and that will be your fault.
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