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Career break skiing

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi everyone!

Hope you have all had a great summer and made the most of the incredible Mediterranean weather.

It's been an eventful summer for me and it looks like it may be an even more eventful winter. Due to unforeseen circumstances I will be considerably more available for skiing than I had previously expected and, for tax reasons, it will be worth me taking most of my holidays in the early part of the year.

Soooo, here I am, far too late of a night thinking about what I should do when it occurred to me that this could be the time to do some serious work on my skiing. I think some kind of course leading to a qualification would be a good focus, maybe something like Warren Smiths ski instructor course? No reason I couldn't take a number of weeks off! No reason to stay in Europe even.

...but I've no idea about any of this. Someone on here must have done this sort of thing. What was your experience? Did you do a course like this, was it any good? Or maybe I should just forget expensive training and just hitch a ride to a good resort and ski?

All advice appreciated.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

No reason I couldn't take a number of weeks off! No reason to stay in Europe even.

North America? If you're not yet 30, I believe you can even get a working holiday type of visa. So that when you finish with your instructor's course, you can start to teach right then and there.

But... ski instructing isn't for everyone!

I worked a couple season as a part time instructor. While there were plenty of highs: students get "aha" moments and the accompanying smile etc. There were also days when the wind was howling and the thermometer was -10C, and I was schedule to teach Sad. Or days after a powder dump but I had to stay on the bunny slope teaching some ankle biter how to snowplough...

I concluded I don't love ski instructing enough to quit my day job. Very Happy

If you're not planning to teach, there're better ways to improve ski without spending a small fortune on those instructor courses.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ooops, double post


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sat 8-09-18 21:42; edited 1 time in total
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Quote:

If you're not planning to teach, there're better ways to improve ski without spending a small fortune on those instructor courses.


Well, probably I won’t be making a living out of it, already having a reasonable one. Thought it might be fun though and keep me more focused on achieving a standard.

Are there better ways? Would love to hear about them!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I have nonstop (nonstopsnow.com) bookmarked for this sort of opportunity -- they do instructor courses in Canada, but they also do the same duration focused on off-piste.
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@Dmitri, depends if you are motivated by achieving a recognised teaching qualification. Undoubtedly would improve technique, probably safety awareness and overall ‘mountain craft’.

Other than the formal qualification, similar outcomes could be achieved less formally. For example, occasional tuition, off piste guiding, practising specific techniques, skiing different terrain with good skiers.

Also tailored training sessions on things like safety, powder skiing, moguls, etc as wanted.

More Structure v More Freedom perhaps the basic choice?
Nice decision. snowHead
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@Dmitri, Congratulations. I hope this doesn’t mean you will be missing the bashes. Whatever you decide, enjoy it and good luck







edit to correct autocorrect.


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Sat 8-09-18 17:56; edited 1 time in total
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Dmitri wrote:
Or maybe I should just forget expensive training and just hitch a ride to a good resort and ski?

All advice appreciated.


^^^ This

I did a BASI course many years back. Biggest waste of time ever if you’re not going to teach. Spent a week perfecting snowplough technique while everyone else was tearing up the powder

Here’s an idea in an area I know... Get a season pass for Verbier before 30th Sept for 989chf. Rent an apartment in Le Chable. Spend your first couple of weeks tweaking your piste technique, once your legs are strong join an off piste camp with powder extreme. Take the train over to Chamonix for a few days skiing in the shadow of Mt Blanc (included on your pass), spend a few days exploring the Portes du soleil (also on your pass). Cheap flights to Geneva if you need to go back and forth a few times.
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@Dmitri, some years ago I was in a similar position, although I was in the very fortunate position of having decided to quit my job a few weeks before my employer decided that would be a good idea. I had already agreed the rental of an apartment in Val Thorens for a whole season before I was called in for a 'discussion about the future'.

As I had no plans to instruct and didn't anticipate ever being a particularly good skier, I simply enjoyed a season as a ski bum and had a great time. I should probably have improved my skiing more than I did but I can't say that's ever really bothered me.

(I had such a good time that I did a second season the next year, funded entirely by my redundancy payment.)
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Rabbie wrote:
@Dmitri, Congratulations. I hope this doesn’t mean you will be missing the badges. Whatever you decide, enjoy it and good luck
+1
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Dmitri wrote:
.. Are there better ways? Would love to hear about them!
Well like most things it's a matter of opinion, but as you're asking, here's mine.

An instructor course will teach you about how to teach, which is something instructors need to know. If you think about the demographics of people using ski instructors, then they're predominantly learners, and the top level of riders/ skiers are beyond instructor level. So most instructors are going to spend most of their time... teaching kids to put their boots on. A fine and dandy thing, no doubt, but not really what most people visualise when they think about skiing/ snowboarding.

If you have a passion for teaching kids in exchange for minimum-wage, then instructing could be the way to go. The companies who organise "courses" for doing that are I'd guess mostly aimed at the parents of gap-year kids, but I'm sure they'll take anyone's money.

If you really have tax-management issues then I can't see that near-minimum wage none-powder-based work would be much fun. Which is why I don't do it.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Did a similar thing a couple of years ago. Started with two weeks in Canada in December. Came home for Christmas and new year. Then Ischgl in mid Jan, followed by Sty Anton, Serfaus Fiss, Innsbruck variuos, Damuels, Zillertal, Schefau, kirchberg(Kitzbhuel), Zell am see, Saalbach hinterglemm, courmayeur, Cervinia, Obertauern.

I didn't actually have a plan, other than meet up with friends who were going on specific holiday/dates, and see how long the snow lasted. No travel pressure around UK flights, was really easy to get around, mainly by train and bus, I didn't really matter too much if it took me two days to get somewhere. happy to meet and ski with anyone, So skied with people, I met on the lift, at the bus stop, in the same hotel, on the mountain. Some for a couple of runs, some for a day.

The really sad thing is that the season wqent by quiet quickly.
Was thinking abount North american roadtrip focussing on 'ma and pa ski areas.Maybe next season!
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Dmitri, what@BobinCH, says!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
As above, I wouldn't recommend an instructor course unless your end goal is to work as a ski instructor.

It's worth considering your end goal. Assuming it's not the Olympics or being "the best skier on the mountain" and you are already a reasonably competent skier, intensive lessons may not make sense. Of course it depends on your personality some what too, some people like the structure of lessons, others prefer more freedom.

There are a few companies like non-stop that do general courses aimed at improving skiing. Like any package you are paying lots for the convenience of them putting everything together. Generally the gap year kids have a good time and their skiing does improve, so it's not the worst choice.

Personally if time and money are not such an issue I would buy an epic/ikon pass and do a roadtrip around n America. The big bonus of North America is controlled in bounds off piste, meaning you get to ski a huge range of terrain without having to worry about avy equipment and finding a partner. Take a few private lessons here and there. Maybe do some courses that appeal (steeps, avy 1, backcountry).
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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If I was taking a winter off work I’d want to have either:
A) a lot more than a basi2 badge at the end of it
Or
B) a lot more fun and freedom than an instructor course

Instructor courses will make you a better skier, absolutely. But for what you’re looking for I think there are better options. Better value for money, too, I expect - those gap courses tend to be expensive.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It's also worth mentioning that to get through L1 and L2 you have to do 70 hours shadowing. Do you want to spend two+ weeks of snow time watching lessons?
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@boarder2020, I’d suggest still being avi prepared whether inbounds or out, surely off piste you’d ski with another and both wear Av gear wherever you are?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

@boarder2020, I’d suggest still being avi prepared whether inbounds or out, surely off piste you’d ski with another and both wear Av gear wherever you are?


Of course it's best to have the knowledge and be prepared. However, there is no need for partners and avy gear skiing off piste within the boundary at North America ski resorts. Everything in bounds is controlled. Of course in bounds avalanches do happen, but it's so rare you are probably at more risk on your flight out. Tree wells are a far bigger danger.
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@BobinCH, Renting a place near Verbier and sampling the local snowy delicacies is an awesome suggestion. I love the idea of hanging out the whole season and just skiing everything as I feel like it. It looks like a rental for the season is round £6k for something comfortable. Does that sound right? Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, just had a quick scan.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Tubaski wrote:
It's also worth mentioning that to get through L1 and L2 you have to do 70 hours shadowing. Do you want to spend two+ weeks of snow time watching lessons?


Well I am quite interested in the teaching process. I don't think I will ever earn a living doing it, I just find myself trying to help other people learn things I've learnt.....and I would just like to be better at it wink

...and I suppose I was thinking there's still, like, 9 other weeks of skiing...maybe I would be glad of the rest Happy

My main concern is that I would be with a bunch of 18 year olds and would be the only old codger around. Does anyone know if older people do these things?
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Hi Dmitri, sounds like a great opportunity.
My suggestion would be
December: Start with the Pre Season Bash, great instruction there, then stay on for another week or two and home for Christmas and New Year.
January : Head to another of the large French or Austrian linked areas.
February : Either head to the USA or Pre and Birthday Bash plus an extra week.
March: Back to another of the large linked French or Austrian areas.
April: (I know it's the next tax year) EoSB and maybe a Pre EoSB as well.

There are more than a few season lift pass offers out there at the moment some of which recover their cost in about 2 weeks.

Have a great winter
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Dmitri wrote:
I think some kind of course leading to a qualification would be a good focus, maybe something like Warren Smiths ski instructor course? No reason I couldn't take a number of weeks off! No reason to stay in Europe even.

...but I've no idea about any of this. Someone on here must have done this sort of thing. What was your experience? Did you do a course like this, was it any good? Or maybe I should just forget expensive training and just hitch a ride to a good resort and ski?
Just to point out you don't need to do a multi-week "gap" course in order to take instructor exams. You just book on to the course, which for Level 1 is a one week assessment (plus 1st aid, ski school shadowing) and for Level 2 is a two week assessment (plus shadowing, etc). In themselves the courses are an enjoyable experience and you will learn a lot about skiing and a bit about teaching. But if you are much more focused on off-piste skiing, or you want to ski bumps all day long, or you are interested in race training, etc, then there are better options.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Dmitri wrote:
Tubaski wrote:
It's also worth mentioning that to get through L1 and L2 you have to do 70 hours shadowing. Do you want to spend two+ weeks of snow time watching lessons?


Well I am quite interested in the teaching process. I don't think I will ever earn a living doing it, I just find myself trying to help other people learn things I've learnt.....and I would just like to be better at it wink

...and I suppose I was thinking there's still, like, 9 other weeks of skiing...maybe I would be glad of the rest Happy

My main concern is that I would be with a bunch of 18 year olds and would be the only old codger around. Does anyone know if older people do these things?


The exam weeks (L1 / L2) absolutely, the gap courses I suspect less so. On my L1 (in resort) probably about a quarter of the people across 2 groups were 'middle aged' - but those that were on the gap course were, I think, all younger. On my L2 ages ranged from 17 to late 60's and only two (of ten) were 'young', although that was an unusual week I think as it was not attached to a gap course.
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@rob@rar, if I did decide to go for an off-piste/bumps type option, what would you recommend?
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Dmitri wrote:

Well I am quite interested in the teaching process. I don't think I will ever earn a living doing it, I just find myself trying to help other people learn things I've learnt.....and I would just like to be better at it wink

...and I suppose I was thinking there's still, like, 9 other weeks of skiing...maybe I would be glad of the rest Happy

My main concern is that I would be with a bunch of 18 year olds and would be the only old codger around. Does anyone know if older people do these things?

I started out teaching from a similar motivation. I ski with decent technique, and was occasionally successful in helping others. So I thought too, I'd like to learn to be a better teacher.

But I found out rather quickly there's a big difference between occasionally helping out vs teaching paying clients. I didn't find those "teaching instructions" to be all that helpful in making me a better teacher. Nothing beats teaching lots and lots of students who have different difficulties!

Mind you, I found teaching itself quite beneficial in improving my own skiing. All the mistakes of my students, I made them to a smaller degree. When I fix them for my students, I fix them for myself too. More over, that's the only way I could make myself to do all those boring drills repeatedly until it got ingrained in my muscle memory. All that were good for my own skiing.

If you're an introspective kind of personality, teaching is probably going to be a good self-improvement process. But that's teaching practice itself. Not the same as the instructor training courses. I have no doubt those courses can be beneficial. But you're paying for it. So figure out what other courses you can do for the same money and decide which are better suited for your goal.

2 years after I quit instructing, I found myself in the same position as you. I thought about staying put and teach part time while skiing for free. But I missed the deadline for the season hiring (was skiing in Japan that very week). I ended up doing a road trip all over US + Canada. It's pretty amazing! I would repeat that in a heartbeat if the circumstance presents itself again! BTW, my skiing also improved substantially that season, just from skiing lots! Very Happy
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Dmitri wrote:
@rob@rar, if I did decide to go for an off-piste/bumps type option, what would you recommend?
One week courses here and there. Piste to Powder, Snoworks, Powder Extreme, Mountain Tracks, etc. Perhaps a trip to Japan. It would be too intense to do multiple consecutive weeks with those outfits, and maybe too expensive to travel to multiple resorts. Alternatively find a good resort to use as a base for the season and go on as many days with local guides as you can afford and get good snow for.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Lots of naysayers so I’ll briefly give the opposite view.....
At 29 I took a 6m career break to just go skiing but as the time approached I worried that I’d, get bored, struggle to motivate myself and (panic) might be lonely. So I booked into a gap course for the first 10 w of the season and it was great. Learned loads, improved loads, had a ball. Long story short my 6m break turned into 4 seasons teaching.
Knowing what I know now I could have done it cheaper etc as others have said BUT knowing what I knew then it worked well.
If you know yourself only you can decide how helpful/necessary that structure might be.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Dmitri wrote:
@BobinCH, Renting a place near Verbier and sampling the local snowy delicacies is an awesome suggestion. I love the idea of hanging out the whole season and just skiing everything as I feel like it. It looks like a rental for the season is round £6k for something comfortable. Does that sound right? Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, just had a quick scan.

You can probably get a studio or nice shared apt in Verbier for that money. Have a look on here and if you’re serious PM rungsp or SteveSparks who have apartments there. https://m.facebook.com/groups/1495123700774384
Le Chable is where most of the season workers live so you’ll meet plenty of instructors down there who’ll no doubt give you some tips for a few beers. There’s also free parking down there if you take a car which will help to get to some of the other resorts included on your lift pass and down the valley if you fancy a day off at one of the thermal baths or similar. A 5 day powder extreme camp is 810chf and highly recommended - here’s a clip from our week https://instagram.com/p/BeTCDYmBtvz/
The problem with moving around several resorts is buying several 6 or 13 day lift passes is extortionate. Pick a big area at altitude so there’s enough variety - other options would be 3V’s (maybe La Tania?), Espace Killy, St Anton. Might be a bit cheaper than CH if you’re on a tight budget
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I was going to mention the budget too.

I've had a similar situation for the past two seasons. The first one I did what a few of the earlier posters said and ended up doing - a 7 week road trip across the alps (and other European ranges!) - starting in La Grave, getting to Brasov in Romania, then finishing in the Aosta Valley. We basically did France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary (no skiing there!), Romania, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, home. We combined several previously-booked trips, and it was absolutely brilliant to drive across all those countries. The downside was the cost of staying in places for only a few days or a week - both in terms of accom and ski passes. The whole thing cost a bomb, despite staying in cheapo apartments and not skiing every day. It was def worth it though.

The following year (last season) we found an amazingly good value airbnb in Aosta, bought the Aosta Valley pass (which covers loads of resorts, and even lets you ski in Verbier about once a week). We did 3 separate days of individual tuition with Warren Smith in Verbier at the start of the season to set us up, and an avalanche awareness course, then had an absolute ball and massively improved due to skiing almost every day for 2 months. We're doing it all again this season, except this time for 3 months! And it cost less than half of the first year.

Can't speak for the instructor course option, though I've always been curious, but if you're motivated to improve then I can vouch for spending some time at the start of your trip with a really good instructor and that will give you the tools to continue to teach yourself to some extent for the rest of the season.

Whatever you do, you'll have a brilliant time.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
You need to specify:

1. How many weeks.
2. And when.
3. And budget.

If it is 4 cheap weeks in January, the answer will be different to 24 premium weeks from Nov to May.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whitegold wrote:
You need to specify:

1. How many weeks.
2. And when.
3. And budget.

If it is 4 cheap weeks in January, the answer will be different to 24 premium weeks from Nov to May.


Yes that's probably worth clarifying.

January to March 2019

I don't have a specific budget....but I would like to get value for money. That could mean many things including amazing skiing experiences, getting to learn the language in a non-english language dominated resort (if one exists) visiting places I might never go to otherwise...being part of a group working together towards a goal. Experiencing a completely different job like ski instructing. All these things could be great value.

I do accept though that I am limited in the kind of good value I am going to be able to achieve without having had many many years experience of doing this kind of thing. I mean I'm sure that an experienced ski bum will scoff at my considering spending £8k learning to ski, speak french, party like there's no tomorrow when this can all be achieved virtually for free......alas I am just a punter for now. Smile
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I actually don't think a shorter instructor course would be a bad idea (for one it means instant mates in resort) - but I wouldn't recommend that you actually go do a season as an instructor.

When I finished school I did a 4 week pre-Christmas course with Peak Leaders in St Anton. 10 days training/assessment for the ski instructor qualification, the rest of the time was spent skiing/training with mountain guides - but training our skiing, not so much just for the qualification. It massively improved my skiing, then lead to straight into a job with he ski school in St Anton (and I'm very grateful for the whole experience as it undoubtedly shaped the last decade of my life - there's no way I'd have ended up in Innsbruck otherwise). We also had evening German lessons too.

I was 'lucky' in that that was the 08/09 season, so due to the financial crash there was a lot less work and a lot more free skiing over the rest of the season than usual - even if that did mean living off pasta with ketchup (and pre-drinking free chalet champagne from the neighbouring chalet hosts every night) as we couldn't afford much else Laughing

If you did something like that, you'd get structured training for your own skiing, learn a bit of german, get an instant social life in resort (I reckon we were about 40% 18 year old school leavers, 40% early 20s uni leavers, and 20% older career breakers), and have a month in resort pre-Christmas to find accommodation to 'bum' the rest of the season, but with the option to work a few peak weeks for the ski school if you wanted too.

--------

Otherwise if budget permits, do something like Bobinch suggests and add in 3-4 Warren Smith type courses over the season. I think *some* proper instruction/coaching at least would be really worthwhile. There's plenty of seasonnaires who still ski pretty poorly, even with lots of time on snow.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
It's not that you won't have a good time in Europe. But all those European resorts can be done easily flying from UK for a weekend/week trip. Make the most of having such a long time and go further afield. As already said North America makes sense: epic/ikon pass set you up perfectly for visiting numerous places and provide good value, more/better powder than europe, and plenty of options for instruction/courses. Or go to Japan for a season where you can visit multiple resorts and get some of the best and probably the most guaranteed powder.
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@Dmitri, To be honest you can do whatever you fancy and will still have a great time so working out what you fancy/what appeals is the challenge. When I've had "ski sabbaticals" I've tended to head to N America. Prospect of more reliable snow, reasonably affordable living and plenty of inbounds offpiste that is safe to tackle if you are not buddied up were factors for me. There's a lot to be said for hunkering down in a small Canadian ski town, hanging with a crew of season ski bums and some locals and going out everyday like it's your job, though I imagine the dynamics are pretty much the same anywhere in the Alps. Certainly in Canada you can easily take a CSIA L1 course for some development and maybe even CSIA L2.

Key factor most places is securing accomodation, very few people rent to tenants who aren't on the ground yet. And where you live can then impact transport options e.g. in the US for example there may ultimately be little choice apart from getting a long term car rental for certain locations.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Go to North America!

1) As @boarder2020 pointed out, you can go to Europe any time you like. But you may or may not have the time and money to go far away later on in your life. You have jetlag to deal with. And for the same ticket price, the longer you have the time to stay there, the better the "value" in your book. That points to Japan and north America.

2) Off-piste! In north America that you get to casually go off-piste without guide, without avi gear and without worry if you'll be buried alive by avalanche!

3) You're interested in improving your skiing. I don't know about Japan, but at least in north America, you can definitely get good instruction by native English speakers. After all, all those pesky Americans and Canadians have to learn how to ski. So it's only a matter of finding the courses that suits you. One particular area you can take advantage of skiing in north America is to take some instruction in off-piste technique (bumps, powder, trees), then just go off to practice by yourself.

4) You mentioned about the social side. Dovetail from above, in north America you have mostly English speaking population to mingle with, in the bar, in the market, on the chair lift...

In a nutshell, English speaking, off-piste skiing, decent snow record, what's not to like? Ah, the long & expensive flight and jetlag! But right now is the moment in life you have the time to handle that.

Unless of course, you want to use the time to brush up your French or German in addition to improving your skiing. In that case, forget what I wrote.
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Dmitri wrote:
My main concern is that I would be with a bunch of 18 year olds and would be the only old codger around. Does anyone know if older people do these things?

I did an Anwärter course when I was about 70, so it's certainly not unknown but admittedly most particpants could have been my grandchildren. There were a few in the 40-50 age range. Was still fun, though I've never applied what I learned.

Others have already given good comments on the pros and cons.
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