How to Conquer Your CSIA Level 3

What do you have to do to conquer your Canadian Ski Instructor Level 3 Course? A good friend of mine took this challenge head-on. So many ski pros in Canada are continuously striving to improve their skiing and become better teachers. Knowing where you are in your development and where you want to go seems simple enough, but not easy.

Here’s an account of one of Ontario’s well respected ski pros and her journey to obtaining your next goal. Ski pro Monica Costa has been teaching for many years and is one of the nicest people you’re ever meet. If you’re fortunate enough to have a lesson with her, buckle-up because her approach, ski-hill manner, and smile are infectious.

In today’s pandemic world, catching an infectious smile would be alright.

Andrew Elsdon

“My Journey to Conquer the CSIA Level 3.
… by Monica Costa

What I Did To Train

The illustrious level III…when I passed my Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) level 2 I said “in 5 years I would go for my 3.” Well 7 years after the initial 5, I took immediate action. Even though I have always trained, I really didn’t train until this year 2019/2020 season. When people asked me what my goals were I always replied “training for my 3.” Training, hmm, what did that mean to me? Well for the longest time it meant doing the same thing as I did years before, training with my coaches. 

Fire In My Belly

This year (2019-2020) was different; there was a fire in me, a desire to do it now. If Not Now, When?

I had the opportunity to invest more time and effort into my training schedule, so I did, I went all in. Started out West in Banff (end of November) with Jeff Sinclair & James Scott – Just For Fun Ski Club and Warren Jobbitt  – Warren Jobbitt Snowsports Academy. Man did that week go by fast, and what a start it was. Humbling to say the least, from going back to the basics, trusting the process, to dealing with fear. Acknowledge the “gremlins” in my head, the stories (lies) they were telling me and boy were (are) they doosies! “I can’t do this.” I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never be as good as them.”  “Who am I to think I can do this, to get my 3?” blah, blah, blah. I had to get out of my own damn way and do the work.

Set the Foundation

I set the foundation for what would be the year to train. Back home in Ontario I signed up for the CSIA Level 3 course in December, Just For Fun Ski Clubs 6 week training series x2 (Monday & Friday), plus their 2 day teaching camp, 3 day intensive training camp, 3 bump days, as well as putting myself out there at Craigleith on the private lesson bell. Working on my teaching, understanding the CSIA Technical Reference and implementing it into any lesson I taught. I practiced taught to my peers (talk about being out of my comfort zone), so much harder to teach your peers, right? (So it seems!)

Monica Costa – Ski Instructor

I was so wrapped up in having to look & ski a certain way, but needed to focus more on the mechanics of skiing. I had to memorize the Technical Reference Points. How am I going to do that? When the reality was, I had to be me. Apply the principles being asked, understand the cause and effect and just be me.

Inner Evaluation

So I skied, and skied some more, 65 days to be exact, this season. On Day 58 I registered for the Teach only portion on the level 3.  I knew I was not “there” in my skiing; I knew that, I was not consistent and I did not own certain ski off runs. On day 59 I went for it. I went out to teach. I trusted my intuition and I went for it. (I even volunteered to go first!). I showed up for me, I showed up for my peers. We did it together. We came from, we are one, we are here for the same thing, lets support each other and be for each other. 

Geeked Out

So you’re probably wondering – Leading up to all this, what did you do? I geeked out.

  • Watched CSIA Level 3 ski off videos
  • Watched CSIA Level 3 ski runs – “Meets requirements, does not meet requirements”
  • Videoed the CSIA videos with my phone so I could watch them anytime
  • Videoed my video’s so I could replay them back with my coaches feedback
  • Created Level 3 prep folders in my gallery on my phone for anything and everything  level 3
  • Created level 3 notes folder on my phone
  • Made notes, endless amount of notes (pen to paper & then retyped into my phone)
  • Repeated the 4 technical reference points out load to myself, Visualized what they looked like as I was saying them, acted them out as I said them
  • Practiced, practiced, practiced

I came from “I am ready now”. I did everything I could. I visualized, I skied, I practiced, I practice taught, I even subbed in for a colleague at a travelling ski club. I did the work.  I put in the time. I skied. I taught. And then I did it again, rinse repeat. Mileage, mileage, and more mileage. 

Move Women… Get messy… Ski Ugly!

One of my favourite moments from training that hit home for me was what one of my coaches said to me “Move Women. Get messy. Ski Ugly.”Warren Jobbitt. To this day I can picture that day, that run, that moment, that feeling. 

Give Yourself Permission

The golden nugget I learned this year was to give myself permission, permission to be me. To trust myself, believe in myself. I have the skills, I know this, and I can do this. 

Often I would ask my coaches, do you think I should go? Do you think I am ready? They would put it back on me and ask me “what do you think.” I am so grateful for all the lessons learned this year. For all my coaches who stood by me, kicked me in the a$$, called me on my sh!t, and never gave up on me. They believed in me. I believed in me.

We Will Be Friends !

What’s next…the other half obviously – ski portion I’m coming for you, we will be friends!

Pillars of Support

Special thanks to: Jeff Sinclair, James Scott, Stewart Bibb, Dave Bader, Anik Gaumond, Terry Karaim, Jason Young, Rick Cook, Warren Jobbitt and Craigleith Ski Club. And the countless other coaches from the West to the East Thank you!


Monica is an inspiration to her students and fellow ski instructors. There’s no doubt in my mind she can accomplish anything she sets her sites on.

I’m looking forward to crossing paths again with Monica this coming season. I’m just hoping she waits for me at the bottom?

Andrew Elsdon


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  1. way to go Monica, keep on plugging away. you will get it. I wish the CSIA would see it the other way also. i am not really an out goung person, it takes time for me to really trust a person, maybe thats the reason i do not make friends easily. The friends i do have i know are true friends. i would do anything for them and they would do anything for me. I know this. When it comes to training i do not need someone to tell me im doing something right or wrong. i have video that i analyse and compare to Level4 skiers. I study physics, biomechanics and kinesiology so i am constantly creating models and trying to prove them mathematically. What im trying to say is that i am different from you, you are different from me. i cant be pushed into a clique when it means nothing to me. If im on my level4 or my Level 3 cscf, im not there to make friends im there to pass. if i make a friend great, but dont tell me i have to make friends with everyone. I wish the CSIA could see that. I come from an athletic back ground, i played football in highschool, i am an amateur boxer, and a golf professional. i cant say that athletics come easy to me, but most things i can watch and imitate pretty easily. Well thats all i have to say. again keep plugging away at your skiing you will get it. all the best Paul Durda

  2. Well said Monica! I couldn’t agree more and I have full confidence that you will achieve your goal with everything you are doing! I’m sure you already know I went through all the same training and then some over 10 years before I was successful. Taking it too serious at first until I realized I needed to relax and truly believe I could do it, in order to be the best I could be. It will come if you are determined enough! …. enjoy your journey my friend!

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