The World Interski Congress and BASI’s National Education Team – why are they important?

The team 2

BASI National Education Team (NET)

By Jaz Lamb, NET coach.

The world, and the ski industry, was a very different place when I started teaching in 1984.

Cairngorm had over 20 ski schools, Glenshee had three full time ski schools and Nevis Range at Fort William hadn’t been developed.

There were literally hundreds of BASI instructors working in the four Scottish ski areas and most schools, at least the big ones, had all levels of BASI instructor working for them, including BASI trainers.

Scottish skiing was a large, vibrant industry and the vast majority of BASI instructors worked at the Scottish ski areas, or, on UK dry slopes.

The snowsports landscape in the UK has changed enormously and no longer looks anything like the one I first entered back in the 80s.  Many years of inconsistent and unreliable snow, plus other economic factors such as low cost air travel and the arrival of the winter snowsports package holiday brought new opportunities for instructors beyond UK shores and changed the Scottish resorts forever.  Although there are still many ski instructors working in the Scottish ski areas, they now have to be multi – disciplined or have other incomes, there are very few who have full time careers teaching on Scotland’s mountains.

So, what has this brief nostalgia trip got to do with the World Interski Congress and BASI’s National Education Team?

The demise of plentiful career opportunities in Scotland led to a shift from BASI instructors working in the UK to BASI instructors looking for work around the world.

As we fast forward to current times, it is noticeable that BASI is in a unique position. We have credibility and respect from all nations and have become a major player on the world snowsports education stage.  We share a platform with the Alpine Nations and our voice can be heard at the top table rather than having to shout from the back rows with other ‘lowland’ nations. This has not always been the case.

Kenny Dickson, Ali Ross, Hans Kuwall 1971


BASI’s current status and credibility has been gained through a combination of international diplomacy and continuously developing our teaching and technical models based on the observations and knowledge we have harvested, adapted and developed from the international arena. This process began back at Interski 1971 when BASI were first invited to send a demonstration team to the World Interski Congress 1971 in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

Over the past fifty years BASI has worked hard to demonstrably create international recognition for BASI qualifications and our teaching philosophy. This international aspect of BASI’s work has created quality snowsports career working opportunities for all levels of BASI members who now work in 38 countries around the world and many members who continue to teach part time and full time in the UK, inspiring more British participants to take up snowsports. Britain has now become the second largest exporter of snowsports participants beyond its own borders! We are second to Germany. The British snowsports customer is big business for other snowsports industry nations and worth millions to their mountain economies. The role of the BASI snowsports instructor both in the UK and abroad is key to driving this passion.  

We have moved on a long way from the days of a focus on teaching in Scotland.  There are job opportunities in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia.  I know of BASI instructors who have worked in Africa so the only continent I have not heard of BASI members working in is Antarctica – and I am happy to be corrected.

So, how did we change from being a UK centric association providing instructors for our home industry to being one of, if not the, biggest exporter of snowsports instructors around the world?

World Interski Report 1995

World Interski Report 1995

I can trace the tipping point back to 1995, and the Interski Congress in Nozawa Onsen, Japan but the foundations stones go way back to BASI’s first attendance at Interski.

The 1995 Interski Congress was when a new approach was presented by BASI’s delegation to the rest of the world. What was developed then, still forms the backbone and basis of everything that BASI do now.

BASI had set about seeking what the performance of a skier looked like and approached this from a biomechanical insight. They took a top down perspective, seeking what every skier has in common, regardless of where they were from or their performance level.  World Cup racers, recreational skiers, the similarities were identified.  They stood back, looked at skiing in its context and environment and broke skiing down into its component parts.  These component parts became what is now known in the BASI syllabus as the Fundamental Elements.

BASI recognised that skiing takes place in a very open and changeable environment and that the environmental factors impact on performance.   They recognised the significance of emotional factors and not just technique and the relationship between the inputs and the outcomes.

The Performance Threads were developed and the concept of “The Strands” was introduced.  Open environments replaced advanced techniques, skiing steeps replaced short swings, skiing bumps replaced compression turns.

BASI had created the basis of the tactical skill based driven system that we still adhere to now.

But there still needed to be a guideline for trainee instructors to take learners on their journey.   It wasn’t practical to just rely on the ‘Fundamental Elements’, there was too much variability for trainee instructors to take on board.  So, a simple progression was developed that allowed all the Fundamental Elements to be developed equally in a natural, logical and progressive manner.  The “Central Theme” was born.

As well as massive shifts in technical philosophy, the teaching side changed unrecognisably with the introduction of the teaching tools and techniques we use today.

At the World Interski Congress in 1995 the core of this new approach was presented.  It was such ground breaking stuff that the rest of the world stood up and took notice.  We were no longer an insignificant lowland nation, but a country that was punching way above its weight.  Franz Hoppichler, the Interski President at the time said “You have changed your skiing and approach significantly, and we like it.”

At subsequent World Interski Congresses we have reinforced that BASI is an Association to take note of, we produce skilled and adaptable instructors who are great at what they do.  We had a massive attendance to our workshops in St Anton (2011) and Ushuaia (2015) with representatives of most countries coming along. BASI’s evolution continues. In Ushuaia in 2015 BASI’s Dave Renouf presented one of the key note lectures for the conference on the work we were implementing aligning BASI course qualifications to the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework. The impact of this key note lecture has resulted in Dr Pete Allison (one of our collaborators at the University of Edinburgh on the alignment project) moving to the U.S and now working with the PSIA to do the same thing with their qualifications!

Attendance at the Interski Congress is a large investment for BASI, and it would be fair to acknowledge that from some perspectives, it is quite hard to see any direct, tangible benefit to attending.

The evolution of BASI’s approach to the World Interski Congress has been to manage and plan it as a four year project cycle and the recent establishment of the National Education Team (NET) is designed to provide the membership with a return on investment over a longer four year cycle and not just on a week-long event held every four years at the World Interski Congress investment.

The role of NET is not simply to do some great synchronized ski demos at the World Congress but to work with the BASI training manager and other BASI trainers over the four year project cycle to develop, improve and refine what we do around all BASI course content, delivery and assessment.  NET deliver at the trainers conference, they train the trainers, lead on the trainers quality assurance programme, develop and refine changes to our system, write and edit our training manuals and workbooks and present and test changes on the trainers and ultimately the membership.

BASI’s National Education Team for the next four year cycle was selected in Zermatt in November 2017. Selection was based on the following criteria: performer, presenter, ambassador, educator and team player.

However, without having strong representation at previous congresses, observing and learning about developments other systems are making, without sending strong messages to the rest of the world about the quality and depth of our training and philosophies and how we are evolving from congress to congress there would not be the recognition for the qualifications, nor the job opportunities that are currently available to the membership.

Even in the modern world of high tech communication there is still no substitute for physical handshakes, eye to eye contact and developing (or reinforcing) personal relationships.  Without attending and participating in the World Interski Congress BASI would not be as well recognised and respected around the world as we are currently.

Your future careers as ski instructors, depends on the nations around the world understanding BASI and our qualifications.  Sending a strong delegation and continuing to put ourselves on the world stage, is essential to maintaining the level of respect we have enjoyed, and maintaining and increasing the opportunities for BASI Members of all levels to work around the world.

The World Interski Congress is the major event where BASI get the opportunity to present who we are and what we do, gaining recognition for our qualifications and building a global network of contacts that help us provide work opportunities for members.



David Cuthill

Well Said Jas!
I qualified as a Grade 3 (Alpine Instructor) in 1989. But I remember 1995 as clearly as if it was last month.
You are right. This was when BASI really came of age with their super professional exuberant demo at Interski.
I’d say it put a wonderful feeling of confidence into every instructor. We knew we could be as good as anyone.
That opened up Europe for us to move in.
We went to work.
It’s been a good journey!

John Pickett

Dear Jazz I read your Interski story with great pride and joy. I was the team coach in Japan and we were all very proud of our performance setting the standard for the future.
This was brought about as we were a happy ‘band of brothers’ with nothing but joy and performance in our hearts.
Kind Regards John Pickett.


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