Nordic Ski Instructor

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Equipment: [ viewpoint | waxes | skis | bindings | footwear | poles | clothing | extras | novelties ]

Novelty items and specialist instructor gear

A Nordic ski instructor is not complete without a bagful of tricks. That bag in itself can take the form of a mega-huge 80-litre rucsac full of items to cover every possible contingency, or a little bum-bag crammed with the odd wax and pair of gloves, or perhaps something in-between.

Most instructors opt for a daysac for most activities, and remove it at the site of instruction demonstrations. In that pack will be all of the items required to keep the instructor and group happy through thick and thin. There will be enough room in it for a map and compass, spare hats of all sizes, gloves of all sizes, socks of all sizes, mittens of all sizes, sunglasses of all sizes, lashings of sunscreen and lipsticks, person-repair kits, ski-repair kits, waxes galore, and good food and drink to feed a cast of thousands. For a lesson, or series of lessons, that extend beyond a mere 20 minutes, the instructor will not only find room for all of the above items - which would be carried at all times - but also overnight survival gear as well, and possibly more food and drink, clothing and cream.

A good daysac is one that has adjustable shoulder-straps, and with a sternum (chest) strap for lateral stability when skiing. Unfortunately, most daysacs are designed with other activities in mind, and consequently usually come with a waist strap, and not a sternum strap, if any is fitted at all. A waist strap is better than nothing, but often restricts movement when attempting to ski efficiently. Beware of side-pockets on any rucsac - they hinder arm movement quite drastically when skiing uphill, on the flat, and downhill.

Shovels are extremely useful devices for constructing small jumps, for creating bicycle bumps, and for digging luxurious snow-shelters at lunch-times. Other items often ignored, but probably more useful, are balloons, balls, frisbees, flags and markers. Balls, balloons, and frisbees are great for games and fun on snow, whilst small markers or flags are sometimes essential when you wish to define an area for skiing in, or for those larger groups that need marshalling.


Small flags or markers also come in handy for relay races, ski jump run-in markers, and for assessments to impress the examiners. Whistles, signalling devices, and ghetto-blasters are also useful in gaining attention, both from the class and from innocent bystanders. If you like the idea of releasing the inhibitions of a class by playing taped music to them, for the sake of those not in your class, please make sure that the music does not interfere with other people's enjoyment of the surroundings... Video cameras are a real boon if there is a competent assistant to film whilst you get on with the instructing. Even though they can be a tremendous asset if used constructively and judiciously, they become a liability of large proportions if not.

One item (mentioned earlier) that no instructor should go without is a ski-repair kit (and not just a spare ski tip, either). The kit should contain articles that will enable a skier to re-fix a binding to a ski after it has been ripped out (3 new holes are generally quicker and easier than repairing the old, enlarged ones), and to repair a broken ski pole (a length of plastic electrical conduit cut in half down the middle, and some book-binding tape, is perfect for this job).

Other minor problems occur with ski equipment that a little ingenuity will easily fix, but one problem that is prevalent with the popular New Nordic Norm (NNN) bindings is that of a jammed binding, usually with the boot left in place. Rather than remove the boot from the skier's foot, just loosen the back two screws under the flex rubber half a turn, and the binding will operate freely again. The binding should be left in this condition, as over-zealous shop-keepers tend to tighten them too far when fixing the binding to the ski.

Emergency ski tips have always been touted as the best (and sometimes only!) thing to carry in a ski repair kit, and this is a legacy of the past, when wooden skis were the norm. These days, skis break with far less frequency for most people, although the tip is still a weak point. Be aware that the standard spare ski tip will not fit a good many XCD skis unless they break at the narrowest part (underfoot).

Equipment: [ viewpoint | waxes | skis | bindings | footwear | poles | clothing | extras | novelties ]

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