Instructor Story: Q&A with Myrtille Heissat
We caught up with our girl, Myrtille (Mymy) Heissat. Originally from Chamonix, Mymy was working as a surf instructor in Norway before joining EA Ski & Snowboard on a ski instructor internship in Japan. Here's how Mymy's season is going so far.
Do you want to introduce yourself briefly?
Hey! My name is Mymy I'm from Chamonix in France, and I'm currently at Rusutsu in Japan for the winter season. I completed my NZSIA Level 1 exam about a month ago, and now I'm in training for my Level 2.
And now working as an instructor?
Yep, I'm working full-time as an instructor at Rusustu.
What were you doing before you moved to Japan?
I was working as a surf instructor in Norway. I did that in the summer and ski guiding in the winter.
Why did you decide to become a ski instructor?
I've always loved skiing and I'd heard about Japan's powder, so I wanted to go check it out. Also, I was excited by the food, the people, and culture. It's good to get out of your comfort zone and see something different.
Was there anything else that led you to choose Japan over the likes of Canada or New Zealand?
Yeah - the working holiday visa for Japan. I had already used my one for Australia and New Zealand. And the Canada working holiday visa is pretty hard to get for French people. So yeah, Japan was a good option.
Tell me a bit about Rusutsu and why you chose that resort?
Rusutsu is in Hokkaido in the north of Japan - just south of Sapporo. It has epic tree skiing.
The resort itself is pretty small compared to some others. There's one building, two hotels, and a couple of restaurants, so it's not a huge party destination. But if you love ski touring and a cool family vibe - it's fantastic.
Everybody knows everyone, and we live right on the slopes. We go downstairs put on our skis, and we're right there. It's pretty nice.
I love Rusutsu. I couldn't have asked for a better place to become an instructor.
How did you find your Level 1 instructor course?
Training was good, but tough. We would start at 9am and it was full on for a few hours. Our instructor was hard on us, but in a good way. He helped me improve my skiing a lot. The training was super valuable and I really enjoyed it.
Most of our training was based on improving our ski ability and technique. We also spent some time shadowing instructors at Rusutsu. That was cool because you got to see everyone's different teaching styles.
What's it like working at Rusutsu?
Rusustu is a lot of private lessons, so three or four people max in a lesson. Sometimes you get to teach the kids groups, which is a group of seven children. I love working with the kids, but it's nice to do both, so you don't get bored.
During peak season I work up to nine hours a day. I'll take a lesson in the morning, afternoon and at night. There are quieter days too when you can ski by yourself. Chinese New Year is about to start so the season will get busy and then in mid-February things will slow down.
What will you do after you finish your season?
When we finish working at Rusutsu, a few of us will head to Rishiri Island - a remote island in the north of Japan for a ski touring trip. Then we're going to climb Mt Fuji. I'm not sure after that - we'll see!
Do you think you'll do another season as an instructor?
Definitely - without a doubt.
And what about Japan - think you'll be back?
Definitely! Japan is awesome and I love working as an instructor here; I'll be back. The people, the onsens, the culture - there's a good mix of everything. It's a cool place to live.
How did you find the course overall?
My skiing improved a lot during the training which was great. I wouldn't mind if it went longer, to be honest. I love Rusutsu; I love Japan, I'm having a good time! I'm happy.
Do you have any advice for new instructors?
Be patient (laughs). No one is in a rush in Japan; everything takes time.