Ru's journey to becoming a ski instructor in Japan
Meet Ru! Ru began her ski instructor journey in the most unlikely of places... she was working as a sailing instructor in London, and although she had been teaching adventure sports since 2012, her on-snow experience was limited to the odd Christmas holiday in Europe. A standard winter for Ru involved a bartending job and life in the middle of a city. However, the Japanese Alps we're calling, and it was time to turn endless summers sailing into a winter season adventure!
"Teaching adventure sports was never what I thought I would be doing full time, but I fell into loving it and wanted to expand my options. Two weeks after I finished the 2017 summer I was on a plane to Japan to start my first winter."
What were the biggest challenges you faced when you were on your season? How did you overcome those challenges?
What began as an attempt to try something new, explore the world and go on a winter season soon hit Ru hard. Her background was in instructing but before her season, she had only spent 6 weeks on snow. When she started training, she was by far the least experienced skier there. Although she was capable of learning, she struggled to overcome her own fear of not being good enough at skiing to teach others.
"Fortunately, my coach was incredible. I passed my level one and spent the rest of the season learning every lesson I could from my bosses, my friends, and my co-workers."
I still have a bit of a complex when it comes to believing I’m not good enough. I assume that I’m still the skier I was in December 2017, I just have to keep reminding myself that just isn’t right. I spent the whole of yesterday lapping the park at Mt Hutt, I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing that 8 months ago!"
What do you think is the most important part of the internship?
Ru found that, with the help of EA Ski & Snowboard, she was able to use the guaranteed job offer to leap to other opportunities. She discovered that ski instructing was incredibly rewarding and enjoyed having a job where her sole responsibility was to create a comfortable environment for guests to learn in.
"There’s nothing to stop you from having fun while you’re teaching. And the more fun you have, the more your clients will see what they potentially could one day achieve, and the more they are willing to try."
Ru's top tip #1.
If your ski doesn’t come off when you’re stuck in powder, don’t try and pull it upwards! That’s how you hurt your knee...
How has your life changed since completing the course?
What began as a began as a winter break from endless summers for Ru has not only helped her find a partner, she has skipped summer in the United Kingdom for the first time, opting for winter in New Zealand instead. Together with her partner, she's planning to move back to Japan in December for the winter.
"I’ve already got my job lined up at Hakuba Snow Sports where I completed my first season and then hopefully we’ll be doing back to back winters for the next few years!"
Ru's top tip #2.
The cafe next to the Hakuba SSS office does the best katsu don, and you can never see out of the steamed-up windows because so many people crowded inside!
Why choose Japan?
Japan was Ru's top choice because she'd previously dipped her toes into the amazing culture, food and lifestyle this country has to offer during a 6-week backpacking trip with friends. She leapt at the chance to head back there to complete a ski instructor internship. Although she was the youngest on EA's internship program in Hakuba, she enjoyed this ski resort for the accommodation, the pay and the location.
The perfect spring riding day in Hakuba
If you're thinking of planning the perfect spring riding day in Hakuba next season, then take a page out of Ru's book. Ru and her mates spent the morning hitting the park over at Hakuba47. Early in the afternoon they headed up to the Corona bar at the top of the mountain and spent the next couple of hours drinking beers, building a little kicker on the flat, and launching each other over it on their snowboards. She even managed to land her first frontside 180 there.
"Good vibes, good beer, good people."
Ru's top tip #3.
If you want to do other seasons or go back to the school you worked at, you need to show that you want it. Take coaching tips, go to workshops, listen to your bosses, always be trying to improve your technical skills. EA puts you in a position where you’re guaranteed a job on passing level one. Use that, and the expertise of the people around you to create a springboard (or kicker I guess) to other opportunities.
Click here to learn more about our ski instructor courses in Japan and join Ru in Hakuba next season on your own ski instructor internship course!