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There’s no need to remind you how out of the ordinary and crazy this last year has been, and of course, every industry was affected in its own way, the ski/snowboard industry was no exception. We have worked extra hard with the instructors on the Maison Sport platform to make sure those who could work were able to do so, and we have seen first-hand the challenges they had to go through. 

This week we reached out to some of the instructors on our platform in order to really get an insight into what the season was like for them. We had three questions, what were the biggest challenges they had to overcome this winter, were there any positive aspects about the season, and what were they most looking forward to for winter season 2021/22. Here is what some of them said.

Petr. T

Petr has been an instructor for more than 16 years which makes him quite the expert of winters in Zermatt, and even though Switzerland was one of the few places that opened for the ski season, it was still an out of the ordinary winter for Petr, to say the least. When asked what the most challenging part of this winter season was, this is what he told us:

 “The hardest challenge for me was to improve my German in Summer to be able to teach the German-speaking clients who could not travel elsewhere and came to Zermatt to ski. I closely monitored the situation already from the start of the Corona infection from March last year and knew that if I wanted to have more clients and survive I have to teach the German-speaking community on top of my Russian and English-speaking clients. That was the main reason why I have had enough clients…but hard work trust me!

Those who decided to ski in Zermatt booked a ski instructor for a short time and wanted to get maximum out of their learning time. It was a challenge to teach them the maximum I could in such a short time correctly and effectively.”

Even though Petr was lucky to be in Switzerland, travel restrictions affected his usual customer base and he had to adapt in order to be able to teach the German locals coming to Zermatt, something which up until now wasn’t necessary. But Petr didn’t back down from that challenge which was what allowed him to work during the season. 

Not everything was bad though, the reduced number of people in ski resorts gave instructors like Petr more freedom when teaching. When we asked what he liked about this season he said “Definitely a lot less people even during the peak season. This, on the other hand, makes teaching much more effective, secure and it was for sure more fun for the clients. Honestly, I have enjoyed this winter a lot. There was a bit less work for me but more free time to train and ski myself which was not the case in the past couple of seasons.”  It’s great to see Petr find the positive even amidst all this madness, and he for sure wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the free time to ski on his own. 

Our final question for Petr was what he’s most looking forward to for the next winter season, and this is what he said: “What I am however looking forward to for the next winter is to ski again with my  long-lasting clients from the past who could not come this winter or it was just too difficult because of the Quarantine.”  Many of the instructors work with the same clients every season, not only helping them improve their skiing but also establishing a friendship that lasts for a lifetime. Hopefully, Petr will be able to teach all his regular clients and new German friends this year with absolutely no restrictions. 

Davide E.

Independent instructor Davide was also lucky to be based in Zermatt this past winter season. He has been an instructor for 6 years and moved to Zermatt in 2015 to follow his dream of becoming a full-time sports instructor.  Not only can he teach you the sport, but he also loves to recommend the best places in the area and take his clients on incredible ski touring missions in the backcountry. For someone so social it really must have been a challenge to spend the season with almost no tourists and a reduced number of capacity in the ski resort. For Davide the most challenging aspect of the Covid winter season was the unpredictability, he said 

The list of the countries with mandatory quarantine changed many times during the winter, many guests had to cancel their trip to Switzerland last minute because their countries were put in the list, then during the whole winter there have been rumors about a possible closing of the slopes and seeing how sudden this happened last year we were never sure the season was going on till the end. Also adapting to all the measures against the virus has not been easy.” 

We can all relate to this particular situation, how many of us had to cancel trips or didn’t book a vacation because we were not sure what would happen? For the person going on vacation, it’s of course stressful not knowing if you can make it to your trip, or the hassle of canceling, rescheduling, and rebooking. But for people like Davide who’s work primarily depends on tourists, the unpredictability was what could really make a difference between “surviving” (as Petr also said) the season or having to look for a second job or do something completely different during winter. 

Thankfully Davide was still able to work with the local crowd which not only meant he didn’t have to find another job this season, but he also built a new clientele base. He said  “Many swiss people discovered their own country for skiing! Usually, in Zermatt, I work 95% with foreign guests, this year probably 95% of my guests were living in Switzerland! I think this could help also in the future to build up a stable local clientele.”  

When we asked Davide what he was most looking forward to for winter 2021/22, his answer was clear and straight to the point “Open borders and again people from all over the world visiting our beautiful resort!” We can all agree that there’s nothing we want more than life going back to open borders just like Davide said, and we would love to go visit beautiful Zermatt this winter too.

Lizzy B.

Lizzy B. is a skiing and ski touring instructor with over 6 years of experience. Every winter she gets ready to teach all level clients and even has a specialisations in adaptive skiing, which allows her to teach people with different disabilities, making her the perfect instructor for everyone. This year though, things were a little different for Lizzy, she is usually based in Courchevel, France where ski resorts remained closed for all of the season making it extremely hard to find enough clients to teach. Because of this, Lizzy also had to relocate to Switzerland at times in order to be able to complete some lessons. 

When we asked her what was the hardest challenge for her this season this is what she said, The hardest challenge has definitely been the ski resorts being closed which has led to loss of income, loss of indentity as a ski instructor, an unsure feeling of the future and the sustainability of working for yourself and in the tourism industry.”  Through Lizzy’s words we can really appreciate what being an independent instructor is all about. The challenge was not only about the loss of income which also plays a big role, but teaching is their passion, and not being able to do what you love, especially when it’s also your main source of income, can take a toll on you. 

Thankfully there were also a few positive things happening for Lizzy, being based in Courchevel meant the lifts weren’t working but ski touring was still allowed and this allowed Lizzy to get some good skiing done and also introduce some clients to ski touring as a new discipline. This is what she said when asked about the positive aspects of the winter season “Yes it’s been great to ski tour every day! It’s been great to feel really fit. It’s been great to ski with so many friends. It’s been great to explore new places, it’s been great to teach some people how to ski tour.” 

Finally, as much fun as ski touring was, and as challenging as this year has been, just like the rest of us Lizzy can’t wait to get back to normal life “I’m looking forward to being able to work again. I hope that travel and tourism will be booming and we have options with work. Being able to travel to different resorts, being able to guide off piste, being able to run adaptive sessions.” We are as ready as Lizzy is to get back to how things used to be, and we can’t wait to see all her bookings start to come in for winter 2021/22

On a daily basis we work closely with the instructors on our platform, making sure we can help them in any way possible, so we really felt the struggles they went through this winter. Many had to relocate in order to be able to work in an open ski resort, others didn’t even get the chance to work doing what they love and therefore had to find alternative jobs for this winter. 

Nonetheless, it has been incredible to see how they were able to adapt to the constantly changing situation and make the best out of what seemed to be a hopeless season. Many of the instructors enjoyed some long overdue time on the slopes to themselves, they were able to reconnect with the sport they love and enjoy empty ski resorts and great amounts of snow. But we know for sure they are all ready to work harder than before this upcoming season, some of them have already taken bookings for winter 2021/22 and we are beyond happy to see calendars filling up!

If you already know where you’re going to be spending your winter vacation, then don’t wait any longer to book your instructor. Head to our homepage and start looking for the independent instructor that is right for you.

The Maison Sport Instructors are Waiting for You!