Want to see a ski instructor do a 360 off a jump, race head-to-head through a slalom course or ski with seven other instructors in perfect unison? For 14 years, some of the world's best ski instructors have battled for bragging rights in the World Alpine Ski Schools Championships, a.k.a. the Battle of the Ski Schools. Two-time champion Beaver Creek, Colo.¿which narrowly edged out Davos, Switzerland, in 2001¿aims to win a third title this year and the winner's share of the $15,000 purse. "There's a bit of pressure because you have teammates¿if you make a mistake, you let seven other people down," says Ian Parham, Team Beaver Creek coach and a five-year veteran of the team. Teams consist of eight ski instructors chosen by their ski school directors to represent their home resorts in what has become a showdown between North American and European ski areas. The teams¿which include coed alpine, women's specific alpine, nordic, nordic/alpine combined, snowboard and adaptive¿compete in three skill-testing events: dual slalom relay racing (similar to pro-racing format), "air pairs" jumping (two athletes launching side by side or in rapid fire) and team demonstration skiing (five choreographed events performed to music and judged for speed and precision). "We try to ski aggressively and dynamically in the team demo, but there's a lot to it. It's not just about being a strong skier who can race and jump, you need to be able to count as well," Parham says. Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., hosts the three-day event, April 10-12, in the challenging terrain of Headwall Bowl. If you miss the Battle in Whistler, a 30-minute television show will air on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) on Thanksgiving weekend. The team entry deadline is March 1, but entries are accepted up to the day before the event, with a late fee.
For more information, log on to www.battleoftheskischools.com.