Over 100 snowsports coaches and instructors come together for UK Snowsports Coaching Conference

Over 100 snowsports coaches and instructors gathered at the Chill Factore, Manchester last weekend to be part of the 2015 UK Snowsports Coaching Conference organised by Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland, Snowsport Wales and BASI. 

Ski and snowboard instructors from across the country and from all snowsports disciplines (Alpine, Park and Pipe, Telemark and Nordic) enjoyed two days of presentations and workshops from leading snowsports professionals, as well as a range of practical on-snow sessions, and the chance to refresh coaching qualifications.

Saturday evening also saw the winners of the UK Snowsports Coaching Awards announced over dinner, as the UK snowsport industry celebrated the hard work and dedication of the country’s coaches. Team Snowtrax’s Darren Schmidt won Coach of the Year and Community Coach of the Year, with the other awards going to James Webb (Performance Coach of the Year), Alex Reidy from Team Evolution (Children’s Coach of the Year), Tristan Glasse Davies (High Performance Coach of the Year) and Richard Featherston (Disability Coach of the Year). (See below for more information on each winner).

Highlights of the Coaching Conference included a keynote talk from Claus Johan Ryste, Director for Alpine at the Norwegian Ski Association. He has been a coach since 1995 and shared with the audience some insight into how the Norwegian programme works and how they have had success in producing consistent top-level athletes from a relatively small pool of athletes. A big focus was on the successful implementation of a program focusing on physical fitness called the Ironman Project, suggesting that if you want to win ski races, you need to be stronger and fitter then all other competitors.

A session run by ex-Scotland rugby player and former Head of Talent at the Scottish Institute of Sport, Tony Stanger on Understanding Talent was a huge success. His talk focused on why he believes talent isn’t something people are necessarily born with, but can be developed throughout a young person’s life by the right coaching techniques.

Sport psychologist Dave Collins, who has worked with over 60 world-class athletes, delivered a session on becoming a champion. He examined the path of successful athletes, explaining that success does not come from luck or talent, and a big focus needs to be on handling the ups and downs of the journey as a professional athlete if you want to succeed.

Snowsport England Chief Executive Tim Fawke said of the weekend: “The UK Snowsports Coaching Conference is a key weekend where all coaches can get together away from race events and find out from world class speakers the latest research, trends and ideas. The highlight of the weekend was the presentation from Claus Johan Ryste, the Norwegian Alpine Director, which set out very clearly how the Norwegian Ski Association structure things to get the best out of their limited pool of athletes. It is hugely important that we continue to support the development of coaches and raise the standard of what is being delivered to athletes from grass roots through to the podium athletes.

“The weekend was also an opportunity to recognise the hard work and the successes of our coaches over the last year. The Coaching Awards and dinner on Saturday night was a time to celebrate, and it was fantastic to see Darren Schmidt from Team Snowtrax claim both the Community and Coach of the Year awards. The amount of time and effort he puts in for Team Snowtrax is amazing and he is always keen to learn and develop as a coach. He is a real inspiration to other snowsports coaches.”

It was impressive seeing more of the new coaches attending and looking to learn more from their peers as well as from other disciplines. With the tremendous array of lectures available as well as on snow time to test kit and chat with other instructors, this is a weekend that any coach that is looking to make a career in coaching and keep on improving, should be marking down in their diary as soon as the dates are announced.

UK Snowsports Coaching Awards 2015:


Alex Reidy – Team Evolution


Darren Schmidt – Team Snowtrax, Darren coaches multiple disciplines and his enthusiasm has helped has the club keep on growing. Also has helped the club to get through Snow Mark this year.


James Webb – James works extremely hard running regular Southern Freestyle sessions and nurturing up and coming talent of all ages and abilities. Without James’s enthusiastic approach and dedication to freestyle young talent in the South would be minimal. He encourages and in his spare time takes young athletes to gymnastic centres and drives them to Gloucester Airbag sessions.


Tristan Glasse Davies Head Coach British Alpine Men’s Technical Team and has been instrumental in the rise up the world rankings of Dave Ryding, now the 30th best Slalom skier in the World.


Richard Featherston – Specialises in coaching people with learning difficulties like autism, deaf and blind. Richard ran a free taster session last year for deaf people and over 100 people attended it.

COACH OF THE YEAR (Selected from the above winners)

Darren Schmidt


Sponsors for the UK Snowsports Coaching Conference are Rossignol (www.rossignol.com) who provided ski testing and the prizes for the Coaching Awards.