Alexandra-based Snow Farm senior assessor Eric Schusser has received a nationwide volunteer award, after co-designing cross-country ski instructor qualification and assessment resources.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions and disruptions, Mr Schusser received the Volunteer Development Scholarship Award last month.

Mr Schusser’s progressions and approaches were based on his training with Alexei Sotskov, who over a period of 9 to 10 years, trained many of the people now instructing at Snow Farm.

“His coaching of various Olympic and national level athletes and teams meant he saw many different approaches to training and instruction, and he developed his own unique approach,” Mr Schusser said.

The result was a blend of different methodology from all over the world that simplified lessons and gave instructors a large tool box of many options, he said.

In Mr Sotskov’s absence, an opportunity emerged to create a unique New Zealand cross› country instruction pathway.

Mr Schusser partnered with Skills Active and co-designed the NZQA qualification — New Zealand Certificate in Introductory Snow School Instruction (Applied) (Level 4) and Intermediate Snow School Instruction (Applied) (Level 5), which allows instructors to work within New Zealand — in 2020.

The certificate resulted in 10 trainees in 2021, with another 10 enrolled for 2022.

Among these were Hil Kiesow, Anita Hallberg and Mary Lee, who facilitated Snow Farm’s bi› weekly Snow Girls cross›country group.

Snow Farm instructor Ms Kiesow said the season-long qualification and coaching/ mentoring approach was ideal.

“If you can develop the instructing skills and get coached all season, it allows more continuous in-depth learning and becomes not such a massive task, making it more manageable,” she said.

The success of the instructing skills, alongside a non› standardised coaching approach, was evident in positive feedback and progression of women in Snow Girls this season, Kiesow said.

This past season Ms Kiesow has been working towards the Level 5 and assessor’s qualification, equipping her with the skills to train future instructors.

She has been an active part of the Snow Farm community for the past 18 years.

Snow Farm general manager Sam Lee said prior to Covid-19 they had been heavily dependent on international instructors. The qualification allowed Snow Farm to build on the skills already here, he said.