Winter Spills and Thrills

Super eager and comfortable on the snow is Kyle Beattie, recently named the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards, Young Ambassador of the Year. During the winter months Kyle works as an instructor with Aviemore-based Free- Ski.


Kyle was taught to ski by his parents at the early age of four. He developed his skills mostly on Cairngorm and is now a BASI Level 2 instructor working towards Level 3.

“Never work with children or animals”; the reason behind the saying being “children and animals are scene stealing and completely unpredictable”. But what if it’s your job to teach children?

Do it outdoors facing variable wintry weather and the challenge becomes greater. Common to both scenarios is the skill, dedication and patience demanded of the instructors.

It’s clear that Kyle loves his job and it is this passion that helps him connect with learners of all ages and abilities.

So what are the challenges, and rewards, of teaching children?

“The weather conditions can be super variable and wild for the small kids. There are huge rewards teachings kids – just seeing them happy and super excited about skiing and watching them progress from getting on skis to a level where they are shredding the whole mountain.”

Tips: “Make it as FUN as you possibly can by having lots of games in your bag of tricks! If it’s not fun the children are not going to learn and will get bored quickly. A technique is having them super aware of their balance so play little games that improve a skill without them realising; for example getting the boys to pretend they are a goal keeper in a football match and having their hands out in front to catch a ball (which shows good posture).”

Novices aren’t always children. Adults can be complete beginners too. Kyle confirms that the biggest challenge with adults is overcoming fears they may have built up in their head. Staying relaxed and loose is important and an added consideration for an older age group is previous injuries.

Other advice? “Whatever age, in skiing a HUGE part of training is not standing in a lesson; it’s actually getting miles under your feet, training is all about repetition! You need to keep trying the same skill until you crack it!”

Free-Ski is running a children’s programme ‘Wee-Ski’, Jan – March 2016.


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