For those stuck on the intermediate plateau, it can feel like there’s no way off. Sometimes the only answer is to get the help of an expert.
Various ski schools and instructors run specialised courses in autumn to help hone skills and push intermediates up to the next level or help experts scrub up on their skills – and what better way to improve than to get technique tips pre-season, so that come the main event you’ll be putting all that new-found knowledge into practice on the slopes.
There’s a lot to be said for seeking such help in the autumn. It’s a great use of time when there’s not much to do except eagerly wait for winter to properly start.
The courses take place in snow-sure glacier resorts – high altitude places such as Cervinia, Tignes and Hintertux, where conditions are reliably good for practising technique on piste and exercising ski muscles.
There are also one- and two-day courses that take place at the UK’s indoor snow slopes.
The great thing about all these courses is they offer intensive training without all the distractions of a ski holiday – but they’re not all work, work, work. Many of the courses emphasise the fun, social side of skiing and snowboarding too.
Courses in the mountains
Warren Smith Ski Academy five-day courses, Cervinia
The Warren Smith Ski Academy offers five-day early season courses in Cervinia for £469, with the first starting on November 10 and the last on December 1. The Academy has secured discounted B&B accommodation at the three-star Hotel Mon Reve from €60 per person per night in a double room, €90 per person per night in a single room. The Warren Smith Ski Academy is also running a five-day course in Cervinia for Telegraph readers from November 2, which costs £989, including seven nights B&B accommodation at Hotel Mon Reve and tuition.
Snoworks Autumn Technical Courses, Tignes and Cervinia
British outfit Snoworks, based in Tignes, offers technical five-day courses covering a range of skills, including all-terrain, bumps and race carving, to level four skiers, defined by Snoworks as those who can ski reds and blacks all day with a stop for lunch. The session hours are all day, or “until the lifts close”, with a quick break for lunch – meaning lots of tuition time for your money.
Courses are available from November 11 until November 22 in Tignes, and from November 25-29 in Cervinia. Tignes courses costs £370; Cervinia £420, excluding accommodation and travel. In Tignes, accommodation is available through The Tignes Chalet Company, with a week’s half board costing £239 per person or £365 per person for sole occupancy. In Cervinia, Snoworks works with Hotel Petit Palais, which offers twin rooms from €58 per person per night, or €73 per night single occupancy.
Premiere Neige Ski Clinics with Pat Zimmer and Peter Hardy, Val d’Isère
Veteran ski instructor Pat Zimmer and leading British ski writer Peter Hardy have been running Premiere Neige performance courses for 30 years, in conjunction with holiday operator Le Ski. The week-long course in Val d’Isère runs from November 30 and costs from £1,299 including six days’ instruction, ski passes, half-board chalet accommodation, flights and transfers, based on two sharing. A four-day minibreak version, departing December 7, costs from £759.
All Tracks Academy 2 Weeks Ski or Snowboard Improvement Course, Whistler
All Tracks Academy offers a two-week course across the pond in Whistler for those looking to invest more time and money in their technique and early-season trip. The course includes four full days of coaching each week as well as the CAA (Canadian Avalanche Association) Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 course over the weekend. Group sizes are kept small, with just six people per coach, and the course is split approximately half and half between off piste and on-piste skills. The two-week course runs from November 30 and includes accommodation, either catered or self-catered, training, video analysis, lift pass, social events and transfers. Prices start from £2,550 for a self-catered quad-room.
All Mountain Performance Pre-Season Performance Ski Courses, Hintertux and Tignes
Mark Gear, founder of All Mountain Performance ski school and a fully qualified instructor, runs pre-season performance courses on the Hintertux glacier in Austria and Tignes glacier in France in November. The courses focus on improving on-piste skills, and are aimed at high intermediate to expert level skiers.
The courses are now sold out for this year but next year’s dates have been announced. The five-day course in Hintertux will run from November 2-6 and costs €740; the three-day course in Tignes runs from November 21-23 and costs €460. The price includes the course fee only, covering coaching and video analysis in groups of six people.
Parallel Dreams pre-season ski performance weeks, Cervinia
Parallel Dreams is the training camp company run by the directors at the British Alpine Ski & Snowboard School (BASS), and runs two ski performance holiday weeks in Cervinia, November 16-23 and 23-30 (the latter has sold out). Aimed at teenagers and adults who can ski parallel and want to improve, the course includes biomechanics assessment, video analysis and five days of coaching. The course costs €575, or from €1,125 to include half-board accommodation at the three-star Hotel Edelweiss.
Ski Club of Great Britain Tignes Performance Course, Tignes
The Performance Ski Course in Tignes is part of the Ski Club’s new Performance Series aimed at getting skiers to the next level so that they achieve their goals. It’s for advanced recreational skiers who are happy skiing the whole mountain but want to be better, have more control, and more effectiveness, and includes coaching from Amanda Pirie (BASI trainer and head coach of Paralympic Ski Team) and Mark Jones (BASI trainer). The course runs from December 2-6 and costs from £499, including five full days of performance ski training, video analysis and a personalised action plan. Non Ski Club members must sign up with the club – at a discounted membership fee of £33.50 for the year – to join the course.
Ski Instructor Academy Improver Ski Clinic, Kaprun
An improver ski clinic designed for the intermediate skier who no longer benefits from general ski school lessons but wants to improve technically and reach the next level. The Ski Instructor Academy Improver Ski Clinic autumn course starts on October 26 in Kaprun and costs €885, including 25 hours of coaching, seven nights half-board accommodation and lift pass.
Alpine Coaching Autumn Glacier Course, Stubai
Run by Pete Silver Gillespie, an instructor with over 30 years of experience, this three-day course on the Stubai glacier offers a short but sweet burst of technical training. Running from October 19-23, the price of £870 includes three days of coaching, three-day lift pass, half-board accommodation in a four-star hotel and return transfers from Innsbruck.
CDC Performance Adult Performance Camp, Hintertux
Run by British Alpine ski racing royalty and husband and wife Dougie Crawford and Chemmy Alcott, CDC Performance is hosting three early-season four-day camps on the glacier at Hintertux – renown for having notably steep gradients, ideal for race training. Open to skiers happy on black runs who want to learn more about racing, the courses take place November 24-29 (women only), November 29 to December 3, and December 4-8. They cost £614, including on and off snow coaching, gate training, physical training, video analysis and ski tuning education.
Courses in the UK
Warren Smith Ski Academy one-day courses, Hemel Hempstead and Manchester
The Warren Smith Ski Academy runs full-day courses in September, October and November at The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead and Chill Factore in Manchester. These one-day group sessions tackle moguls, steeps, powder and carving. A one-day session costs £139, including tuition, lift pass and equipment hire. The Academy is also running a ski technique tour around the UK throughout October.
Snoworks UK Bumps, Manchester
This year, Snoworks is running a one-day course at the Chill Factore, Manchester, on September 6. The aim of the course is to develop the necessary skills for skiing bumps; it’s open to any skiers already happy on red and easy black runs. The £125 cost includes five hours of coaching, lift pass and video analysis.
Parallel Dreams UK Snowdome Clinics, Manchester and Braehead
Parallel Dreams offers a couple of options for maintaining ski skills in the autumn. At the Chill Factore in Manchester, it runs one or two-day courses on September 5-6 and October 17-18. As well as focusing on piste performance, the Chill Factore also has its bumps facilities available on these dates, so skiers will be able to practice their mogul technique. At Snowfactor in Breahead, the one-day courses run on September 23, October 14 and 28. A one-day course costs £130, two-day courses £235, and includes tuition, equipment hire and lift pass.
Ski Club of Great Britain Performance Ski and Snowboard Clinics, Hemel Hempstead, Manchester and Tamworth
Join the Ski Club of Great Britain’s team of top British instructors – including Mark Jones, Amanda Pirie and Chemmy Alcott – for a day of skills training at one of the UK’s indoor snow slopes. Open to skiers confident on blue runs and above, participants will receive a personalised action plan to implement this winter. There are seven dates in September and October, and the course costs from £140, including six hours of tuition, lift pass and equipment hire (if needed). Non Ski Club members must sign up with the club – at a discounted membership fee of £33.50 for the year – to join the course.