Snow Junkie Turned Professional Slope Star: How I Turned my Travel Passion into a Career.

By Posted in - Canada on October 8th, 2012

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from one of our UK readers. 

Preparing myself on a snowy mountain top, I face the plunging slope before me. The snow is fresh and the air is clear. All I can see for miles and miles is the hostile peaks of an ancient landscape. Nothing can quite compare to the silence in these parts, and nothing can match the feeling of cutting the first trail. But how did I end up here?

three sisters

Photo by by A tea but no e via Flickr.

It started with family skiing trips, way back when I was a tot. My dad was a bit of a ski fanatic and, at the time, I hated the cold, the heavy gear and the physical exertion of it all. It was anything but a relaxing holiday. I guess skiing is something that grows on you because, ten years later, I was whipping down an advanced slope like a pro, spraying the powder and generally showing off. Don’t judge me, I was a teenager and the resort was jam packed with ski hunks. I had my first winter romance that year. A French Canadian named Leon, a short but passionate ride on a ski lift. Those are the memories…

Anyway, I digress. Skiing, I soon realized, was the only thing that made me feel free. Whenever I was back in Blighty, surrounded by the mediocrity of everyday life, I felt itchy and suffocated and irritable. If I wasn’t skiing, I was thinking about skiing. I’d trawl the internet looking guiltily at ski gear, fawning over a pair of hot pink skis like they were akimbo legs in a saucy picture. I was desperate for the slopes. Once, I even placed a collapsed cardboard box down the length of the stairs, emptied a bag of cotton wool all over the place and attempted to ski down it. Needless to say, it wasn’t the same.

Sadly, life went on despite my waning ski intake. I went to university. I graduated. I searched for a job in the worst employment market this country has ever known. I despaired. Not only was my life in a constant state of limbo, I hadn’t been skiing since that romantic winter affair with my darling Leon some four years ago.  How then, I hear you ask, did I get back up that glorious alpine mountain of success? How indeed.

Last October, I went to the London Ski and Snowboard show in an attempt to sate my unholy lust for the piste. I met likeminded young souls like myself (queue the eureka moment), many of whom were busy making a career out of ski season. Idiotically, I’d never even considered this as an option (“too good to be true” comes to mind) and when a new friend started babbling to me about her incredible job, the penny eventually dropped. But was I too late?

Sensing the desperation streak across my face, my particularly enthusiastic new friend led me (by the hand, no less) to the Nonstop Ski & Snowboard stall where the words ‘skiing instructor courses’ dazzled my eyes like shining light bulbs of destiny.

Before I had the time to process the gravity of the situation, I’d signed up for an 11-week instructor course in Canada. Just like that. No second thoughts.

Life = turned upside down

Photo by Hamedog via Flickr.

Canada? Canada! The country of my dreams! The birth place of Grimes and Arcade Fire and Patrick Watson! It was meant to be. Alright, so those musicians are from Montreal and I had my destination arrow pointed firmly at Fernie (over 2,000 miles away) but, you know, that kind of culture permeates throughout a country, right?

Fernie, at the heart of the Canadian rockies, is a rambling, rural landscape of untouched beauty, Jurassic mountain-scapes and glacial conditions. It is, therefore, the perfect place for skiing and indeed, come ski season, the population of the small town swells. Flocks of snow junkies and winter vacationers seek their own special solace in the newly fallen freshies and it would be those people, I’d imagine, that I’d be training in 11 weeks time.

When I left the Ski & Snowboard show, the true extent of my new situation dawned on me and with it came a colossal sense of relief. It was the kind of relief that comes with figuring out what you want to do with your life, and nothing can match that. Thankfully, my family and friends also agreed that the course was a no-brainer. After all, it was my parents that had to aid to my grazed knee when I attempted the Grand Downstairs Ski and failed miserably.

So here I am, atop a metaphorical mountain of success (and a literal one, too). I completed my training in less than 10 weeks and, having been accustomed to the slopes for most of my life, was offered a job the second I was handed my qualification. My only regret is that I allowed myself to mope in the trench of graduate pity for as long as I did. If I’d only been bold enough to pursue my passion sooner, I might have saved myself a lot of grief.

I hope this inspires you to do the same. Has anyone else taken a leap of faith and found a great job doing something they truly love?

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(1) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Laurie -

    October 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Great story. Those pictures are amazing. Canada is also my place of dreams. Magic Place