It’s the mountain where you can grow – regardless of whether you’re a beginner, or a world-class skier. And this winter, there’s plenty to look forward to on its slopes: Gausta has a new Ski- and Snowboard School, with Helen Merrifield and Björn Nordahl at the helm. Together, they want to turn it into Scandinavia’s foremost winter sports school.
In the world of sport, there’s a palpable feeling of pride when clubs sign big stars. That’s how we at Gausta feel as we head into the 2020/2021 season – thanks to the arrival of Björn Nordahl and Helen Merrifield, who together will be leading the Sport and Training division at Gausta.
Helen and Björn bring heaps of knowledge and experience to Gausta – as skiers, teachers and ski school-leaders in locations as diverse and prestigious as Deer Valley in Utah, Queenstown in New Zealand, Obergurgl in Austria – not to mention Åre, Idre Fjäll and Fjätervålen in Sweden.
– In the Nordic countries, you sometimes get the sense that ski school is something you go to as a kid, but then grow out of. We want to change that perception. We see an opportunity to help all skiers and riders to develop and take the next step towards learning how better technique can create more of a sense of enjoyment, both on- and off-piste, says Björn Nordahl.
– For us, it’s important that being a ski or snowboard instructor is seen as an educational profession – a career. It’s not just a seasonal job for 19-year-olds. And even if the focus in ski school is always on having fun, it’s not just a form of babysitting either. So we’re working with an educational plan and clearly-defined goals for all of our ski and snowboard school lessons, says Helen Merrifield.
“We see an opportunity to help all skiers and riders to develop and take the next step towards learning how better technique can create more of a sense of enjoyment, both on- and off-piste”, says Björn Nordahl.
Helen has taken on the role of manager and senior teacher for Gausta Ski and Snowboard School. Even before the start of the new winter season, she successfully managed to appoint a crew of internationally-certified, experienced teachers.
– It feels really great. We’ve seen a really high standard in the people who have applied to work at Gausta, and have chosen a group of experienced teachers, the youngest of whom is 26, she says.
Björn Nordahl takes on the role of Sports Manager at Gausta and, as a result, assumes responsibility for rental, events, races and establishing contact with clubs and teams who want to organize training at Gausta.
– Our goal isn’t just to take care of our holiday guests, but also offer qualified coaching in all branches, explains Björn, who himself has a background and extensive experience as a club and ski academy coach.
Welsh by birth, Helen’s route into skiing started in Zell am See, via adventures in the powder in Japan and then out into the wider world. In Queenstown, New Zealand she developed an educational model and helped run a ski school with a total of 160 teachers.
– Alongside groups for children and teens, we’re going to be offering personal training for everyone who wants to improve their technique. The goal is also to be able to offer group coaching, tours of the peaks and guided sessions for adult skiers who want more out of their mountain experience, says Helen.
– For us, as educators, it’s just as fun to see 4-year-olds glowing with pride as it is to be with experienced skiers touring in the backcountry. It’s fun to have the whole range of skills and ages with you – from kids to world-class skiers, says Björn.
From: Barry, Wales
Experience: 30 seasons
From: Borensberg, Östergötland
Experience: 47 seasons
Gausta Ski and Snowboard School offers group lessons for a number of different levels, based on the ages and skill levels of those participating. For every age group, there are clear prerequisites about the skill level required and what the aims of the lessons are.
Regardless of whether you’re a child or an adult, enjoyment starts with self-confidence: learning how to feel safe and secure on the slopes, then gradually challenging yourself with new, steeper slopes and more speed.
Lay the groundwork for an activity that you can all take part in, and a lifelong passion for skiing – book ski and snowboard school lessons for your kids!