Kimberley Alpine Resort’s Rob Duncan has completed a lifelong goal by completing the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) Level 4 certification.
This represents four decades of hard work, time and financial investment for Duncan who achieved his Level 1 back in 1980.
“This takes many years of dedication and work,” Duncan told the Bulletin. “From the time you become a Level 1 it takes most people 10-plus years to complete this process. Some never pass the Level 4.”
He explained that reaching Level 4 is akin to attaining a PhD in other professions. You are required to be able to ski at the highest standard, meaning expert speed levels on expert terrain, on top of skiing perfectly on a technical level and being able to teach at the highest levels and teach other instructors how to teach.
He went through the Level 4 Academy process last year, which entails a written application explaining what makes you a Level 4 candidate, including your experience, ski industry knowledge, what you bring to the program and why you are a leader in the ski industry.
Once selected to try out for the Level 4 Academy, applicants must then go to a two-day ski off exam, where you demonstrate seven skiing maneuvers and score a passing mark of six or higher on each of them.
If you pass that, you make it into the Level 4 Academy and then proceed to attend three four-day ski and teaching evaluation camps which consist of training skiing, teaching expert lessons, racing and teaching pedagogy, working with the top Level 4 examiners in the country for six hours a day on snow and then classroom time in the evening.
At the end of it all, there is then a two day exam with skiing and teaching.
Duncan is originally from Edmonton, Alta. and first tried skiing when he was 13 at the Edmonton Ski Club. Soon after that he was advancing the ranks of the ski team there before moving on to racing Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) on the Alberta Development Team.
From there, he started coaching children’s ski racing and then at 21-years-old Duncan became Director of Sales and Marketing at Hidden Ridge Ski Hill in Edmonton.
His love of the sport has moved him all over the world since then. He worked at Mount Perisher, the largest ski resort in Australia, where he says there is lots of good skiing during our summer, their winter. He also lived in Steamboat Springs, CO., Whistler, B.C. and in Banff, Alta.
After 12 years of teaching and coaching in the U.S., he returned to Alberta to start his own business selling Nordica ski gear and outdoor camping gear, all the while continuing to race and coach with the Alberta Masters Ski Team at Nakiska Ski Area.
This afforded him the opportunity to compete at the Canadian and World Masters Championships, where he became the Canadian Master Champion 45-50 not once, but twice.
After that he desired to raise his children in a small mountain town, so in 2014 he took the job of Snow School Director and Business Development Manager at Kimberley Alpine Resort.
He said that as a sales rep, he was coming through Kimberley around four times a year at least, and already knew he wanted to retire here, so when at a barbecue he told long-time friend and associate Andy Cohen, former Fernie, and Kimberley General Manager, that he was looking for a career change, Cohen told him of the position opening at KAR.
He decided why wait to make the move just to retire, and decided to come and work here.
“Since Rob’s arrival, the Snow School is a sought after place for instructors offering high level training & instructing with a fun environment to work and play,” the resort said on Facebook. “Currently KAR Snow School has approximately 60 staff including five Level fours, 10 Level threes and 13 level twos.”
After all these years and time spent on the slops, Duncan still finds ways to challenge himself and continue to evolve as a skier.
“Love for skiing and always searching and looking for the perfect turn, the rush of flying down the hill and feeling the G forces as you load the skis in a turn is addictive,” he said of what drives him.
Last year alone Duncan skied over 115 days, 85 of them at KAR, in preparation for the Level 4 test. On a regular year he says just just tries to get out at least four days a week, but if the snow is good he tries to go every day the resort is open.
As the snow starts to fall in Kimberley, Duncan can’t wait until the resort opens so he can “get the skis on and feel the rush of the first couple turns.”