Banff Freestyle Camps
Improve your skills, master new tricks and have a blast in Banff, Canada’s freestyle Mecca and fun party town!
Insurance & Visas
Do I need a visa in order to come on one of your courses?
Most nationalities don't need a visa in order to come on one of our courses. UK passport holders will enter Canada or New Zealand on a six-month tourist visa that is issued upon arrival. You only need a visa if you are planning on working in Canada or want to stay for longer than 6 months. During our instructor courses you will be provided with more information regarding work visas for when you want to become a ski instructor.
Does Nonstop arrange insurance?
We do not sell travel insurance directly to our clients but will of course give guidance on what sort of cover is suitable. You will need to buy an insurance policy that has sufficient cover for your course. There are a number of companies that will cover you for the course but please note that the majority of winter sports policies are not sufficient for all the activities you will be participating in. We can offer you advice on this once you have booked.
What standard do I need to be?
In general, we welcome skiers and snowboarders of all standards and experiences however some ski courses do have a required minimum standard.
How fit do I need to be?
The fitter you are on arrival the more you'll get out of the course and the less likely you are to injure yourself. For the 6 week Master the Mountain course you need to have a high level of fitness as a lot of time is spent ski touring and splitboarding (going up hill!), which can be very tiring if you're out of shape.
Does my lift pass cover weekends?
Yes, Nonstop provides a lift pass which covers weekends. In Banff you will be able to choose whether you ski at Lake Louise, Sunshine or Norquay.
When do I get to ski/ride outside of the coaching times?
You will have a couple of hours a day to freeride and you can also ski at the weekends, although your body will need a rest at some point! You will normally have three 'non-group coaching' days per week although some of these are taken up by the additional training such as private lessons, avalanche awareness courses, first aid, and winter camping. Your remaining time is available for freeriding with friends or to go on one of the many weekend trips arranged.
How much freestyle is involved in our courses?
The Level 1 and 2 CSIA and CASI instructor examinations do not include freestyle aspects of the sports. However during the lessons our coaches will take you to the numerous kickers and hits that build up around the resort and develop your confidence and technique in the air.
We do have a 2 week freestyle course in Banff which is perfect if hitting kickers and the park is your thing.
What are the parks and half pipes like?
Red Mountain is more renowned as a freeride destination and the mountain is littered with natural hips, drops, cliffs and kickers. There is a designated park with kickers and rails throughout. Red Mountain hosts the Canadian Freeski Challenge which sees North America's extreme skiers and telemarkers airing off big cliff drops into lines down some of Canada's most challenging terrain.
At Banff, Sunshine, Norquay and Lake Louise all have parks. Sunshine has an extensive park with plenty of kickers, tabletops, rails and a half pipe. Lake Louise is pretty similar and Norquay has a great park and is particularly popular with our clients as you often have the park to yourself as Norquay is so quiet during the week.
Fernie has some amazing natural kickers, cat-track drops, cliffs, tree jibs and gullies. Additionally there is a rail park for those wanting to progress their rail skills.
Am I guaranteed to leave Nonstop as a certified instructor?
We cannot promise that you'll leave our course with an instructor's qualification but we can provide exceptional instruction from experienced coaches to enable those with a dedicated approach to successfully pass their examinations. To date we have had 100% pass rate for level 1 on our 11 week course and a 94% pass rate on our 3 week course. On the 11 week course those who wish to go on to take their level 2 (this is normally about 50% of the course), the average pass rate is about 85%. "Park & Pipe" and "Race" coach courses are also a popular option providing further instructor qualifications with great results.
In what countries are Canadian and New Zealand certified instructors qualified to teach?
CSIA, CASI and NZSIA qualifications are internationally recognised. You will be eligible to instruct in areas such as New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South America, USA, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Spain. Currently France is the exception to the rule.* Past Nonstop participants have taught in snow schools all over the world but the majority have chosen to return to Canada to instruct as they want to progress their qualifications and have fallen in love with the deep snow, un-crowded pistes and laid back vibe of the Rockies. In the summer they've taught in New Zealand and Australia.
*You can instruct in France using Canadian qualifications but you need to be recognized by the International Ski Instructors Association. In order to be recognized by the ISIA you must be certified as a level 3 CSIA instructor.
What financial protection do you offer me as a customer?
When booking with us your investment is financially secure if you book a flight with us because Nonstop is ATOL protected. Our ATOL number is 5828.
What is ATOL?
ATOL is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Most firms who sell air travel in the UK are required by law to hold a licence called an ATOL. However, some of our competitors are not ATOL protected and therefore their customers have no financial protection. ATOL protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. It does this by carrying out financial checks on the firms it licenses and requiring a guarantee, called a bond, to be held with the (CAA) Civil Aviation Authority. If a firm goes out of business, the CAA will make a refund to you, or if you're abroad, will arrange for you to finish your trip and fly home. Travel insurance does not cover you against companies going out of business.
This is very expensive but we feel that it is important for our clients to have the financial protection that ATOL gives them.
What are the other courses included in the course?
Unlike many of our competitors we give you opportunity take other courses and enjoy a range of extra activities.
What evening courses are available?
For the 11 week courses, evening classes are available in some but not all of the resorts.
Where are Nonstop based?
Nonstop courses are based in three of the best resorts in the Canadian Rockies; Fernie, Red Mountain and Banff (Lake Louise, Sunshine and Norquay), as well as Porters and the Club Fields in New Zealand and Serre Chevalier in France. The Canadian Rockies are renowned for their abundance of champagne powder, varied and challenging terrain, and the laid back friendly atmosphere.
Is Western Canada French Speaking?
No, Quebec, on the East Coast of Canada, is the only French speaking area of the country, although there are many Quebecois living in the Rockies due to the superior ski terrain and snow conditions found in Eastern Canada.
What's the drinking age in the Canadian Rockies?
In Alberta (where Banff is located) the legal drinking age is 18. In oder to drink alcohol in British Columbia (where Fernie and Red are located) you have to be 19 years old.
NB: As in Britain, bars will accept photo identification as proof of age. They are very strict and some of our older clients get caught out initially having not taken their ID!
What's the price of living?
Depending on the exchange rate, Canada can be a relatively inexpensive place to live. Unlike some European resorts, the restaurants, bars and shops in Canadian resorts are well priced and sometimes cheaper than the UK. Prices vary year on year but give us a call to chat about them.
Who are Nonstop courses aimed at?
Nonstop welcomes anyone 18 and over looking for an unforgettable season with the best snow conditions around. Most of our clients are either taking a gap year, are postgraduates, taking a sabbatical break, or choosing to change their careers. We find that a mixture of age groups works really well socially and the ski classes encourage everyone to push themselves to their maximum potential — essential for clients preparing for their CSIA examinations. We actively seek to maintain a broad mix of ages and on average about 50% of our clients are between the ages of 23 — 50.
We understand that an 18-year-old gap year student may have different interests from a 35 year old. The accommodation therefore lends itself to splitting up the age groups to create a comfortable medium.
What is the minimum age limit?
18 is the minimum age limit for any of our courses.
What is the maximum age limit?
There isn't one! You are never too old to come on a Nonstop course, as long as you are fit and healthy and up for an adventure and a challenge. We have had clients in their late 60s coming on our courses.
Will I need my own equipment?
You will need your own equipment. If you do not have your own gear and are on a shorter course you will be able to rent equipment although on the longer courses it would be more cost effective to purchase equipment. Many buy their equipment out in Canada.
Should I buy my ski or snowboard gear in the UK or Canada?
Nonstop suggests that our clients buy their equipment in Canada. There are a few reasons for this:
- Warranty: if something goes wrong with your equipment it will be far easier to arrange a replacement if you have bought the gear locally. Shops should help you claim on the warranty and may provide you with demo skis while you wait for a replacement.
- Local knowledge: The snow conditions in the Rockies are different from Europe. There's more powder and more focus on off-piste skiing. Therefore people tend to use slightly different equipment. It’s best to get local advice before forking out for your new gear.
- Go local: As you're going to be living in the community it really is worthwhile to support the town by buying your equipment from local stores. In return you'll find that you will be offered a friendly welcome, good advice, and perhaps discounts on further purchases.
And one last thing: Buying in Canada means you only have to drag your kit through the airport one-way!
Can Nonstop arrange discounts on equipment?
Yes, we have arranged deals with local ski shops that will arrange an evening for Nonstop clients to have access to their store and expertise. The first day of the programme is set-aside for 'gear day' providing the opportunity to get kitted up before the coaching starts.
Will I learn how to service my skis or board?
As part of the courses we provide a maintenance seminar. You will be taught the principles of ski/board design and construction, plus tuning and maintenance techniques including base preparation, edge sharpening and waxing.
I've heard its freezing in Canada, will I need special clothing?
On average the temperatures in the Rockies are colder than in European resorts. Fernie is relatively mild compared to other resorts and often the temperature is around -8 degrees Celsius. However there are cold spells when it can get down to -25 degrees Celsius. Banff is subjected to some cold weather conditions but it means the snow is dry and light! It will probably get down to -30 degrees Celsius during the season. Red gets its fair share of warmer and cold conditions also.
You will need a good layering system for skiing in Canada. A good set of thermals, a quality middle-layer and a windproof and waterproof jacket are imperative. We will issue everyone with a kit list before they depart for Canada and local shops will be able to advice you on the best methods of keeping warm.
Towards the end of the season you'll be enjoying the warm spring temperatures in just a t-shirt and jumper.
Are flights included in the cost of the course?
Many clients like to arrange their own flights as they often travel before or after the course. However, we can arrange your return flight from Heathrow or Gatwick to Calgary/Vancouver/Kelowna, in order for us to do this you just need to tick the box on the booking form stating that you would like Nonstop to arrange your flight. The cost of the flights vary, but it's best to budget for around £650.00.
Are your packages protected by an ATOL license?
When booking with Nonstop, as long as you book a flight with us, you as the consumer are financially protected as we have an ATOL (Air Travel Organisations Licence).
Getting work after the course
In what countries will I be qualified to teach?
CSIA, CASI and NZSIA qualifications are globally recognised, allowing you to join ski schools in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South America, USA, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and many more. France is the only exception (you need to either go through the French system or get to Level 3 or above).
Can I get a job while on a Nonstop course?
Your tourist visa will not allow you to work while in Canada. However, shadow instructing will provide great work experience and stand you in good stead for gaining future employment.
What about getting instructing work after the course?
After you have completed a Nonstop course we will give you a 'working as an instructor' booklet that will give you masses of information on how and when to apply for visa's and jobs. As we have a huge amount of contacts all around the world, the booklet has lots of useful names and numbers in it, plus case studies from past clients which will give you useful insider knowledge on how to get the best jobs! Information on job applications is also covered.
Many of our past clients go on to get jobs instructing for ski schools in Canada. People tend to fall in love with Western Canada and want to return for further winters riding the superior powder and also building on their Canadian qualifications. New Zealand and Australia are also popular options.
Whilst working in a ski school you should receive on going training from more experienced instructors. Theses 'sessions' will help you prepare for further qualifications and keep your teaching skills up to date.
You can get two 12-month working visas (for people between the ages of 18-30). This is really the only way of applying for a visa without your employer sponsoring you. Applying for jobs when you have a visa will put you on a level stepping with Canadians. A working holiday visa is a once in a life-time opportunity so use it wisely! Once you have spent a season instructing you will have got your foot in the door and should not find it a problem getting your future visas sponsored by your employer. N.B, the visa’s are limited so you will need to be organised and get one well in advance of when you would like to work.