Train to be a cross-country ski instructor

Instructor Jean-Emile teaches offset during his Level 2 course at Hardwood. Photo cred: Michael Connor.

Our cross-country ski school is looking for enthusiastic skiers who want to become an instructor. Becoming an instructor involves passing a two-day CANSI Level 1 certification course. Our ski school can help you prepare for the course.

CANSI Level 1 tests skiers on diagonal stride, double poling, freeskate, one-skate, and wedge turns, as well as the ability to teach these techniques. Don’t be intimidated – it’s a Level 1 course, which means you do not have to be an Olympic level skier! You simply need to meet the “standard” and be able to teach the techniques to beginners. Our instructors can evaluate you to see if you meet the standard and what to work on to meet the standard. We can also arrange for you to shadow experienced instructors to get teaching experience. You can pass the course in classic only, or both classic and skate.

There is a Level 1 course scheduled for Southern Ontario on Jan. 18 and 19. If you aren’t ready for that, you can spend the season preparing and do the course the following year (or, when you are ready!).

Become an instructor, and you too can make your students pull each other with ropes. Photo cred: Michael Li.

Becoming an instructor is a wonderful way to pass on your love of skiing to new skiers and members, and there is nothing like teaching others to improve your own ski skills. One of our newer instructors, Yiuyin, says “…when I told the High Park ski school that I would like to improve my skills and be an instructor, the instructors not only helped me improve my sills, but also invited me for different training [events] in Ontario and BC. I finally got my Level 1 certification last season and have enjoyed teaching.”

Heather, our cross-country director, became an instructor in 2018 and says “the process of becoming an instructor really improved my own skiing, especially skate skiing. I had support from the more experienced instructors in the club and I spent a lot of time practicing (especially one-skate!). The course itself was a lot of fun and I enjoy helping beginners become a little more efficient on the trails, which hopefully helps them have more fun.”

We aim to help our members become instructors at minimal personal cost. Certification courses are fully covered over a period of three years (provided you teach with us over those three years). Instructors are reimbursed a certain amount for each lesson, and they get complimentary day trip fees on the trips they teach.

If interested, please contact and we’ll connect you with our instructor development director.

HPSC’s 2018 Level 1 grad class! Photo cred: Heather Steel

XC members take on SilverStar’s XC Supercamp

First day on skis for many of the group! Here we are at the top of the mountain all smiles in the snow. Photo cred: Heather Steel

Amazing early season snow, a huge trail system, mountain views, and top level coaches makes SilverStar’s XC Supercamps an unforgettable experience.

Break time after skiing to the sun at the top of the mountain! Photo cred: Heather Steel

This year, a group of HPSC members – including a number of instructors – got a kick start to their season from Nov. 30-Dec. 8. We participated in the week-long camp, from all-classic beginner to intermediate and advanced combo and advanced all-skate. A couple members even tried their hand at biathlon (the real deal…guns not frisbees!). There is something for everyone here.

Getting pointers from our coach on the trail. Photo cred: Heather Steel

Supercamp places you in small groups depending on your skill level, fitness, and goals. You are led by an experienced instructor (lots of level 4 instructors out in these parts!). Generally instruction takes place in the morning, followed by a hearty lunch, and then ski time with your group in the afternoon. The combo groups do two days classic, two days skate, and one day the choice of the group. They shuttle participants on two days to Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, which has a teaching stadium and beautiful trails. On the final day, we did a fun photo scavenger hunt to close out the week!

The video doesn’t lie! Photo cred: Heather Steel

Being with the same instructor for five days does wonders to improve your technique in a short time, and gives you lots to work on when you go back home and ski through the season. We highly recommend the camps if you want to become a more efficient skier and have a lot of fun doing it.

One of the best parts about SilverStar is taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain! It’s a rare treat for XC skiers to get a ride up! Photo cred: Heather Steel

XC ski school special programs 2019-2020

Instructor John heads in from teaching an intermediate skate class at Georgian Nordic. Photo cred: Michael Connor

HPSC holds regular lessons every trip, but we also offer the following special programs through the season. There is no additional cost for these programs. You can find the dates in our schedule. You can email if you have questions about any of these programs.

Our instructors get beginners moving on the trails. Photo cred: Michael Connor

Classic Beginners Series: Held on three consecutive weekends with the same instructor, this popular program will get you moving on the trails and making friends in no time. If you are interested, please email to register. Ideal for Classic 1 and Classic 2 skiers.

Skate Better Series: Held on three weekends with the same instructors, this series is designed for those who can get some forward momentum and glide on their skate skis. If you are interested, please email to register. Ideal for Skate 2 and Skate 3 skiers.

Skate Great Series: Held on two weekends with the same instructor, this series is designed for those who already move well but want to become stronger and more efficient. This program introduces you to more advanced techniques. If you are interested, please email to register. Ideal for Skate 4 and Skate 5 skiers.

If you want a small dose of one-on-one attention, Tips & Tricks is for you! Photo cred: Michael Connor

Tips & Tricks: Offered four times (2 classic, 2 skate), these 15-minute one-on-one lessons offer the chance to work with an instructor on a particular skill. Great for those who want to learn, but don’t want to commit to a full regular lesson. Register on the trip registration module. Available to skiers of all levels but ideal for Level 3 to Level 5 skiers.

NEW CLINICS! Faster, smarter skate & Faster, smarter classic: If you have good foundational skills and decent fitness, learn how to navigate terrain more efficiently. Register on the trip registration module. Ideal for Classic 3+/Skate 3+ skiers.

New XC skiing lesson levels!

Classic 1/Skate 1: First lesson – learn how to get up after falling! Photo cred: Michael Connor

HPSC offers a wide array of lessons from our roster of qualified instructors. Taking lessons is a great way to learn the sport, refine your technique so you can explore more efficiently, and meet other skiers at your skill level.

Based on feedback from last season, the ski school has redesigned our lesson levels. We hope this will help students land in the right class so their skiing can progress more effectively. We have split classic and skate lessons into five levels. Below is a brief outline of each level to help you assess where you should be. 

Classic 1/Skate 1:

  • I am brand new to skiing or have only been on skis once or twice.
  • I feel uncomfortable on skis – my balance is very unsteady. I fall often.
  • I don’t even want to think about hills!

Classic 2/Skate 2:

  • I have been on skis before, but still feel uncomfortable or unsteady at times.
  • I don’t think I understand the basic techniques.
  • I can’t glide with all my weight on one ski.
  • I attempt to get down gentle hills, but I’m still very hesitant.
Our instructors find innovative ways to teach. Photo cred: Heather Steel

Classic 3/Skate 3:

  • I feel comfortable moving on beginner trails and may go on some intermediate trails.
  • I understand the basic techniques, but my skiing feels choppy and, while sometimes I manage it, it is hard to glide with all my weight on one ski.
  • I can get myself up and down moderate hills.

Classic 4/Skate 4:

  • I think my skiing is fluid and efficient much of the time.
  • I can confidently glide with all my weight on one ski some of the time.
  • I feel comfortable on intermediate trails, and capable of advanced trails.
  • I can get myself up and down most hills, although still hesitant on the steep ones.
Classic lesson on the trails! Photo cred: Michael Connor

Classic 5/Skate 5:

  • I think my skiing is fluid and efficient most of the time.
  • I can glide with all my weight on one ski most of the time.
  • I am comfortable on all the trails and cool with most hills I encounter on advanced trails.
  • I think I’m ready to learn more advanced techniques

How do I know what level to put myself in?

With the above descriptions in mind, do your best to estimate where you should be. Feel free to talk to the head instructor on the bus when they go around confirming lessons. They are happy to provide advice.

Once an instructor sees you on skis, they may decide its best to put you in a different group. Don’t worry about being moved up or down. Placing students in the appropriate group is essential for a safe and fun learning experience for everyone. Worry less about the level and focus on skill development. We also may, due to instructor availability, combine lesson levels. But the instructor will be able to give tailored activities to each level. We appreciate your cooperation.

When can I move up levels?

Instructors are looking for particular markers at each level. At the end of each lesson, the instructor should provide feedback on specific things to work on. They will indicate if you should register for the same level or move up next time. If they don’t, please ask them.  

Why did the lesson levels change?

Based on feedback from students and our experience teaching lessons we felt that the old levels (e.g. Beginner, Bronze, Silver) were unclear. Furthermore, we wanted to provide more opportunity for students to progress in their development. We’ve reworked lessons into a clearer set of levels, with better definitions for what each level means. This should allow you to be better able to get a lesson at your current skill level which maximizes your ability to learn and progress in your skiing.

Should I take lessons every trip?

The answer to this question is completely personal. We offer lessons on every trip. Some people like taking one every trip. Others like to take a lesson, go off on their own and practice for a couple weeks, and then come back to a lesson. Everyone learns differently. Do what’s right and, most importantly, most fun for you.

Our instructors take CANSI training every year. Photo cred: Heather Steel.

DRIVING UP to the hill? A few reminders to help us provide you with the best experience!

#1- If you drive-up, you need to register on-line before the deadline in order to take a lesson !

Before each day trip, your instructors diligently review the numbers of on-line registrations in order to best organize the different STEP classes. . 

This is why if you drive-up, and want to take a lesson, you need to register on the HPSC site before the deadline. We want to ensure we arrange enough instructors to allow for manageable class sizes. On some Saturdays we can have between 20 and 40 members driving up, and consequently, we need to add an additional 4 to 8 instructors to ensure a valuable learning experience for all of our members.

With increasing numbers of members both on the bus and driving up, we can only provide instruction if you register before the deadline. If you do not register before the deadline, you will not be counted in during lesson planning, and consequently we may not have enough instructors to provide a safe, fun, and challenging experience for our members.  Drive-ups who do not register before the deadline cannot join a class. 

Follow the drive-up instructions to join a class!!

#2- Get your own lift tickets!

Since you arrive on your own, you will need to buy your own lift tickets, unless of course, you have a pass. You will not be able to take advantage of the HPSC group rate. Make sure you give yourself enough time to do this and be ready for the lesson line-up!

#3- Cancel if you change your plans

If you have registered as a drive-up before the deadline and then cannot make it, we ask that you follow the same cancellation procedures as if you were on the bus:

For Saturday, Sunday and Monday trips, email before 8:00pm the previous Wednesday. For Wednesday trips, email before 8:00pm the previous Sunday.

If you are still registered by the deadline, we assume that you are coming and will include you in our planning and will send enough instructors to teach you and all other registered members. 

#4- Read the Trip Status Email You Receive Prior to the Day Trip

A day or two before the trip, you will receive a Trip Status email which will include important information such as where and when ski assessment will be, where and when classes will meet.  PLEASE READ IT CAREFULLY!! Times might change depending on the bus arrival, so check with an instructor (green and blue stylish jacket) in the chalet or on the hill.

#5- Limited Number of Drive-up Spots – So Sign up early! 

In order to offer safe, fun and challenging classes for all, and to ensure that communications and safety are maintained throughout the process, the number of drive-ups are limited to approximately 1 drive-up spot for every 2 members on the bus . In order words, we will initially limit drive ups to 25 spaces for the first bus. As soon a second bus is added, an additional 25 drive-up spaces will be open. So, sign up early!!

Once again, the bottom line is: If you are driving-up and want to join a class, make sure you register early and before the deadline! If you forget, you can ski on your own or with your friends when others are in class; just make sure you register next time!!

Thank you for following these guidelines which will really help the club volunteers who strive to provide all members with a great day trip experience. See you on the hill!!

From your Day Trip and Snow School Directors