Tom Farrow (24) is a professional snowboarder, born in Nottingham and raised in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. He competes for Great Britain, rides on the Sno!zone and Butta teams, is supplied by Forcefield body armour, and recently passed his BASI Level 2 Snowboarding qualification.
Tom started snowboarding when he was 12 years old after previously enjoying the thrill of skiing before that on school trips. He comments: “I got into snowboarding after learning how to ski because at that age it looked really cool. I definitely loved it straight away and tried to do it as much as possible.”
After being introduced to Snowboard Cross at University, he became hooked and eventually decided to go professional and do it full time. Tom started to compete internationally in 2011 and has recently finished second season:
“My snowboarding and my results keep improving. It’s been an awesome lifestyle travelling across Europe to compete at different resorts whilst also snowboarding full time where I live in France. So far, I always walk away from a result thinking ‘that’s good, but I want it better’. I’ve had some pretty cool moments, joining the GB team being right up there.”
Tom has started his own blog to share his snowboarding experiences, which follows his life as he competes around the world. Tom recently went to Hintertux in Austria to complete his Level 2 Snowboarding course with BASI (The British Association of Snowsport Instructors), the UK body responsible for the training and licencing of snowsport instructors. The Association currently has over 6,000 members who are actively involved in delivering instruction to recreational ski and snowboard enthusiasts at snowsport centres and dry ski slopes in the UK as well as at ski resorts in 24 countries worldwide.
“I chose to do a BASI qualification because of its credibility and reputation in the industry. I had looked at other qualifications from other countries and you seem to have to invest a lot of time into going up the ranks before it starts to gain enough weight” comments Tom. Below are his thoughts about the course:
“There was still a week left of the season in Morzine when we had packed the car to leave. It was pretty sad to be going away and missing the closing party. But the snow was getting pretty slushy by then so I was looking forward to going a lot higher up. It was the first time I had driven over to Austria but the journey was simple enough. 450 miles and beaming hot sunshine later, I arrived in Vorderlanersbach, which is about 15 minutes down the road from the Hintertux ski lift. We had an hour to settle in before heading off to a BASI meeting to be told what was happening over the next two weeks. Five hours on snow, two hours in the classroom then an hour of private study a day. I’m used to at least five hours on snow so that was cool, but when I’ve finished, I usually lie around on the sofa drinking water and eating, not in a classroom! Luckily, it was pretty mellow as there were lots of discussions on the hill.
At 8am the first day, we met up with our trainers and everyone in our group. Rob Sanderson was my trainer, who was great. I wasn’t really sure how to approach the whole BASI course. A few people I know really aren’t keen on the programme and had been warning me about things for a couple of months before I went. My coach in particular, who was worried that they might undo all the work we’ve done together. For the first day I pretty much kept my mouth shut and just honed around the resort whilst Rob got to know us all and our level. I felt at the beginning that it was going to be the case that my riding level would be enough to see me through and I just had to be present to pass. However, I quickly realised, that that was not going to be the case.
I had to change my riding style. I’ve spent the last few years riding specifically in one way as I’ve been told by my coaches. Rob managed to explain it well though, saying that there has to be a distinction between competitive riding and riding in a way that beginners can copy. That was an awesome way of putting it. I know a few people have clashed heads in the past thinking that BASI trainers have said that their riding style is inferior, when really they mean it’s not appropriate. That really won me over and I started to really get involved with what Rob was trying to teach us all. It was pretty interesting looking at the biomechanics of riding but also all the loads of different exercises to practice each element of the movement. I’m used to pretty much flying around resort as quickly as I can, but it was pretty fun to slow it all down.
My first lesson was teaching beginners to do the ‘falling leaf’. I was one of the last of the day, which was awesome because it meant I had the chance to watch everyone else’s lessons before it was my turn. The style most people used was all a bit too command orientated for me though, so I decided to mix it up a bit and use my own experiences. I’m used to my coaches setting out the training objectives then sending me off to go find it out for myself as they sit and observe to provide feedback. It’s not the quickest way of learning something, and really frustrating, but it definitely gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes and really understand why something works. It was cool to incorporate into my lessons and it went down well.
By the second week I had passed all of the assessments so far, which made it even more fun because I was able to play with different things. I even got a few laps through the park on the sly when Rob wasn’t looking, which was awesome.
Now I’ve passed, the next step is to use this qualification in the UK scene and start building up some strong competitive snowboard cross riders that do FIS races. I’ll be over in Manchester for the British indoor champs coaching for a couple of evenings to get people prepared. After that, I’ll be putting together a camp in the preseason around October.
If I hadn’t found snowboarding, I definitely would have ended up in a not too exciting desk job. When I was at Uni, I was quite keen on either becoming a solicitor or joining the diplomatic service. I think now though, if I wasn’t snowboarding, I would have to do something within the industry that allowed for travelling! I would like to say a huge thank you to Butta, Forcefield, sno!zone, York Sport and Sheffield Hallam University for all of your support over the years.”
Tom’s next step is to use his BASI snowboarding instructor qualification in the UK scene and start building up some strong competitive snowboard cross riders that do FIS races. Tom will be over in Manchester for the British indoor champs coaching for a couple of evenings to get people prepared. After that, he will be putting together a camp in the preseason around October. Tom wants to start building up some of the university riders as well, seeing as that’s where the whole team has come from.
So, as you can see, if you like your boardsports, you too could take a snowboarding instructors course and learn all the skills to become a BASI qualified snowboarding instructor. With the BASI snowboarding instructor qualification, you can get a job as a snowboarding instructor in Europe. If you are a student and like the snowsports scene, have a look at OffthePiste.com, the UK’s leading student snowsports tour operator.
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To read more about Tom’s experiences, please visit his website: www.tomfarrow.net.
BASI currently has over 6,000 members who are actively involved in delivering instruction to recreational ski and snowboard enthusiasts at snowsport centres and dry ski slopes in the UK as well as at ski resorts in 38 countries worldwide.
For further information about BASI’s wide range of training courses, please visit www.basi.org.uk or call 01479 861 717.