Why get into winter sports?
When it snows in the UK, half of the population moan, get their earmuffs out and sniffle their way to work. The rest of us dust off our sledges and head for the hills. If you’re in the latter category, you could be interested in following a career in the exciting and pretty darn cool world of winter sports.
How do I get started?
There are plenty of different career paths you can follow, from participation as an athlete, to coaching or even medical roles, where you’d be responsible for nursing injured sportspeople back to full fitness. Obviously, a common option is to work abroad because, let’s face it, winter sports career options can be very limited on our temperate little island.
If you pursue a career in this area you can eventually turn your hand to absolutely anything, including:
- Ice hockey
- Figure skating.
For any role as an athlete, you’ll obviously need to be an absolute expert and dedicate all ofyour spare time to perfecting your skill. For example, if you’re interested in ice hockey, then you should attempt to join an amateur team and participate from an early age. Most universities will have teams, so keep on the lookout.
As far as actual qualifications are concerned, a degree isn’t necessary for any coaching or participating career. Coaches will need the relevant coaching badges though. For ski instructors, this will mean passing a course in the UK, but also another course in the country you go to work in. It may also be a good idea to learn another language if you have your heart set on working abroad.
For any medical role, be that as a physiotherapist or someone working on the medical staff of a winter sports team, you’ll need to have a degree in physiotherapy and experience of working with sports injuries. Potential employers will be looking for candidates who have a genuine passion for extreme sports and helping people with their medical problems.
How can I keep training outside winter?
As with any sport, to make it as a professional athlete, you’ll have to push yourself to the limits, display huge levels of commitment and be able to put in months and months of practice.
Now, this isn’t easy in the UK, but you do have options. If skiing and snowboarding are your sports of choice, Tamworth and Milton Keynes have pretty tasty Snow Domes with real snow! Alternatively, you could even check out Aviemore in Scotland - but be warned: there might not always be snow.
However, most people head off to the Alps or the United States where they can put their skills to the test and try out different slopes and bigger challenges. People often work abroad in ski resorts where they spend half their time working and the rest of their day practising and building up their skill-set to take part in competitions. Entering as many competitions as you can and working your way up through the rankings is the key to success. Check out the occupational profile of a skier to find out more!
The trick is to find a job that suits your skills and gives you the best opportunities to actually do some skiing or snowboarding. You could also use your time in Europe or America to work as a winter sports instructor or ski guide.
If you’re more of the ice hockey type, the UK is surprisingly pretty well equipped for those wanting to get involved. There are hundreds of regional amateur leagues you can approach. Ice Hockey UK is the national governing body. Check out their website for more information on who your local team is!
There’s also the option of management and coaching in ice hockey. It’s one of the most up and coming sports in the UK, so the demand for experts in the field is higher than ever. Approach your local team or ice hockey centre if you’re interested and see what sort of coaching courses they have on offer.
If you have a passion for physiotherapy, working as part of a medical team that specialises in winter sports injuries could be a great field to go into. Believe it or not, there are thousands and thousands of winter sport related injuries each year, including broken wrists and torn muscles. People always need to be helped by professionals who can get them ready for a big competition or even the one-week ski holiday they have planned in a month’s time.
If you’re the kind of thrill-seeker who is always chasing the snow, a winter sports career will give you the opportunity to earn a wage for doing what you love best! It almost sounds too good to be true...but we assure you that it’s a real possibility!