Telemark Level 3 Coach


The Level 3 SSE Telemark Coach is gained on successful completion of an approved Level 3 training and assessment course. 

Whereas holders of the Levels 1 and 2 SSE Telemark Instructor awards are qualified to teach only on indoor and artificial slopes within the UK, Levels 3 and 4 SSE Telemark Coaches are entitled to operate both in the UK and on snow at complex ski resorts abroad.  Both Level 3 and 4 Coaches have to come to terms, as do all ‘visiting’ coaches, with the constraints on their coaching activities in foreign ski resorts.  Only SSE Level 4 Coaches with the IVSI licence are qualified to coach, and only within the conditions set out in the ‘Coaches Protocol’, copies of which can be obtained from the SSE Office.  Holders of the Level 3 award are not qualified to coach groups of skiers, they are only qualified to lead groups of skiers on snow abroad in accordance with key conditions of the “Coaches Protocol”:  

  • while skiing within recognised and pisted areas of a ski resort  
  • while skiing with groups of skiers with whom they already have a working relationship  through fellow-membership of  an affiliated HNGB or UKSS Snowsport member organisation  

The Level 3 award is therefore a first step towards qualifying coaches to work on snow in a mountain environment, outside the confines of indoor and artificial slopes. 

It is also a main staging post towards the Level 4 award and the IVSI licence.  The Level 3 award is designed to provide sound preparation to work and lead in the mountain environment and as such develops well rounded experienced coaches to work with skiers in the UK artificial ski slope environment. 

Level 3 SSE Telemark Coaches will be competent and versatile free-heel downhill skiers, able to ski efficient Alpine and parallel Telemark turns adapting to snow conditions and terrain.  The award trains and equips aspirant coaches to lead their groups at Level 3, whilst helping to prepare them to coach at Level 4.  The Level 3 award holders must demonstrate appropriate competence in four key areas: personal skiing skill, coaching skill, leadership skill, and mountain skill. 

Prerequisites for Level 3 Training and Assessment Course 

Aspirants must apply and book on a Level 3 training course via the SSE Telemark Coaching Administrator and: 

  •  hold the Level 2 SSE Telemark Instructor Award or apply for accreditation of prior learning or external qualifications
  • provide evidence of at least six weeks skiing experience in complex ski resorts  
  • be registered with a UKSS member body  
  • hold a current first aid certificate  
  • have satisfied current CRB criteria  

 Level 3 Training and Assessment Course 

The six day training and assessment course takes place on piste at a mountain ski resort and comprises four “core strands”:  personal skiing skills, coaching skills, leadership skills and mountain skills.   Practical assessment will take place throughout the six days and will be clearly identified as assessment sessions distinct from notified training sessions.  Evening sessions will develop and focus on underpinning knowledge of the four “core stands” to support and enable a transfer of theory into practice. 

Skiing Level 3 

Level 3 SSE Telemark Coaches must be able to meet the criteria which define Level 2 skiing requirements on indoor and artificial slopes, when skiing on snow, on pisted terrain in mountain ski resorts.  Whether skiing Alpine or Telemark turns, Level 3 SSE Telemark Coaches must be able to ski all pisted areas of a mountain resort, demonstrating appropriate posture, consistent balance, control of speed and direction of travel.   

Demonstrations must display an understandable picture of the technical elements of skiing suitable for all recreational skiers, from beginner to advanced.  

Level 3 SSE Telemark Coaches must be competent to undertake the same Skiing Tasks required for the Level 2 award, using free-heel equipment in a mountain resort.  The candidate will show appropriate movements and sound posture in all aspects of both Alpine and Telemark skiing whilst adapting to snow conditions and terrain.   

The development of personal skiing skills takes place continuously through the six days.  Candidates must be fit enough from the start of the course to be able to ski for at least six hours each day; and be able to ski continuous linked Alpine and Telemark turns down most pisted runs in most conditions. 

During the course candidates will ski as part of a group and at times as the leader of the group.   Where possible, the group will ski continuous rounded arcs, with the leader making appropriate choices of terrain, line and speed. 

Coaching Level 3 

Level 3 SSE Telemark Coaches will, as a minimum, be expected to demonstrate their ability to replicate Level 2 teaching standards on pisted terrain in the mountain resort environment. 

The emphasis of Level 3 Coaching will then focus on “Coaching” theory and practice and highlight the difference between Instructing and Coaching.  A progressive range of activity enabling this to happen will be provided. 

Evening sessions will initially develop a “theoretical” focus of “Coaching” and the “Coaching Process” to support and enable a transfer of theory to practice.  Practical coaching ability and knowledge (rather than instructing ability) will then be observed and assessed towards the end of the week, following some practical training sessions that facilitate effective coaching practice.  
“Coaching Process” content will include: 

  • profiling  
  • goal setting  
  • planning (for a training programme and its content)  
  • personal performance development (Skill Development)  
  • monitoring and Evaluation (which informs both future goal setting and profiling) 

In the practical coaching activity, candidates will be asked to work with their peers within the group.  Coaching tasks will be set, observed and assessed during the later stages of the course. 

Leadership and Mountain Skill 

These two sections of the award are designed to enable Level 3 Coaches to lead and manage a group when skiing in a mountain resort.  Level 3 Coaches must therefore be able to demonstrate leadership skill that is underpinned by awareness of the mountain environment.  They will be able to make simultaneous decisions relating to navigation, group management and the best choice of terrain, line and speed.  They must also show flexibility and adaptability in changing plans in unforeseen situations, or in response to a problem with a group member. 

The Level 3 Coach will be able to prioritise decisions relating to their groups enjoyment, comfort and safety.  These decisions will reflect their ability to make suitable professional judgements, including ongoing ‘risk assessment’ and interpretation of the mountain environment. (This is often referred to as ‘mountain sense’.) 

Level 3 Coaches must therefore be able to demonstrate their knowledge and competence in the core areas of skiing, leadership and mountain awareness. 

Leadership Skill involves: 

  •  group management and knowledge of leadership styles  
  • safety briefings  
  • use of lifts  
  • equipment and accident procedures  
  • practical implementation of the Ski-Way code while leading a group 

These skills will be taught and examined by creating opportunities that test the candidate’s group control, their ability to make routine decisions, the clarity of their briefings, their knowledge of equipment and accident procedures and of safety in the mountains. 

A candidate’s attitude, approach and motivation will be explored, combined with opportunities to create appropriate levels of activity and interest and assess awareness of group and individual needs. 

Level 3 Coaches should show they appreciate that leadership is a complex concept, involving far more than group control, communication and safety, and further, that leadership will be most effective when it inspires trust, confidence, enjoyment and teamwork.  Coaches should show sensitivity to the demands of the environment and the needs of the group.    Candidates will demonstrate leadership styles as appropriate to match the changing situations in which groups find themselves in the mountain environment. 
Mountain Skill involves: 

  • analysis and response to varied snow conditions  
  • avalanche awareness and procedures  
  • emergency off-piste travel  
  • navigation  
  • knowledge of weather and environmental hazards 

The main emphasis in this section of the award will be the teaching and assessing of sound navigation and judgements relative to time, distance, visibility, snow conditions, climatic conditions, avalanche awareness and emergency off-piste travel. 

The Level 3 Coach is expected to make appropriate responses to climatic change and prevailing weather conditions.  These responses will reflect the quality of the candidate’s ‘mountain sense’ which will be assessed in terms of the combination of knowledge, commonsense and previous experience of travelling, skiing and being in the mountain environment.  Logged evidence of relevant experience will support this aspect of the assessment. 

Overview of the Level 3 requirements  

  •  fulfilling prerequisites  
  • completion of an SSE Telemark Level 3 Training and Assessment course  
  • demonstrate the appropriate standard for the 4 core strands of the award skiing skill, mountain skill, leadership skill and coaching  
  • demonstrate underpinning knowledge of SSE coaching philosophy and the SSE Telemark Coaching Awards Levels 1, and 2. 

At the end of the Level 3 course, candidates will be given an action plan to assist their personal and professional development.  

On satisfactory completion of the above the candidate will be awarded a SSE Level 3 Telemark Coach Award. 

Assessment outcomes for the SSE Level 3 Telemark Coach Award 

Tutor/Assessors have three options in assessing the candidates for this Award: 

  • Pass - when all aspects of the assessment have been satisfactorily completed.  
  • Deferral - when one or more aspects of the assessment must be retaken or backed up with further evidence.
  • Fail - when the candidate has to repeat all aspects of both the Training and Assessment components of the course. 

On completion of SSE Telemark Level 3 training and assessment, the Tutor/Assessor will report the results to the Telemark Coaching Award Scheme Administrator. 


All Level 3 Coaches are required to attend an approved SSE refresher course at least once every three years.   This is to keep them abreast of the latest developments in both skiing and coaching techniques.  

A revalidation session will be for a minimum of one day and shall include theoretical and practical elements.  In addition it shall include a review of coaching philosophy and development.  Attendance and participation at the annual one week SSE Nordic course will automatically revalidate SSE Coaches/Instructors.  

A number of other options to revalidate an award shall be considered if an application is made to the Telemark Coaching Scheme Administrator. Examples include attending an SSE annual conference, attending an SSE Telemark festival.

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