While you’re riding with your friends slaying the park, enjoying the fresh pow lines, or just making turns down the hill, you probably don’t give a passing thought to all the work that goes into making your experience the best it can possibly be. But there’s a lot crews working long hours, doing thankless jobs, in order to make our passion for the snow possible. It’s time we give them some recognition.
The Snowmakers: Probably the most obvious, and most important. The work through the nights and often in the worst possible conditions. Without them, there are no terrain parks, no half pipes, and in the worst winters, no snow! They track weather patterns, drag hoses and portable cannons all over the mountain, and build piles of snow all so you can have something to ride on. Though most of us are giddy at the first signs of snowmaking in late Autumn, we rarely pause to consider their efforts or thank them
Cat Drivers & Groomers: If you’ve looked up at the mountain after hours, you’ve probably seen the glowing orbs ascending and descending in the darkness. Those are the cat operators burning midnight oil to groom the slopes. When the chairs stop and the bar makes last call, the mountain is taken over by the snow-cats to repair day’s damage, to make that corduroy pristine, and to re-shape the parks. You may think it’s just driving up and down the hill, but it really is an art form to make everything level and seamless, to smooth over the piles and ruts or flatten out the snow making mounds, or even completely change the grade and slope of a hill.
Park Crew: They shovel, rake, salt, and push throughout the day, keeping things fresh and maintaining the features and flow. But it doesn’t always end there. They may assist with designing and fabricating features, and maintenance of existing ones. Often the crew has a hand in the park’s overall flow, and puts in the hard labor of the actual build itself, another task that usually runs to the wee hours of the morning.
Maintenance: Every moving part in the world will fail at some point. Even some stationary ones will go kaput and it’s the maintenance crew who keeps the chairs on the cables and the cables on the guide wheels. They keep the cats running, the snow makers making snow, the cafeteria making food. And broken stuff doesn’t have a schedule, so maintenance works all hours of the day to keep things moving, and when things stop moving they make them move again.
Lifties: Lift ops catch chairs, sweep off the snow, slow it down for onloading or offloading your kids, and shut it down in case something goes wrong. Most of them would love to be out skiing or riding, but instead their standing out in the cold, catching chairs for you and all the others who are actually enjoying the slopes. The least you can do is say a quick “thanks bro” to the guy when you get on the chair.
Ski Patrol: I know, I know, there isn’t a group of people in the world who can uphold the “no rad stuff” rules like Ski Patrol, but bear with me here.
While you hate being told “Don’t ride there”, they don’t want to be digging your carcass out of a tree well, or scraping your brains off of some rock. Their job is to try and keep you safe and hopefully injury-free, and in the event that you do get banged up, the Ski Patrol are first on the scene, administering first aid and getting you back to safety in a complimentary meat-wagon ride! So give them some slack, while it seems like they’re out to get you, usually they’re just looking out for you (and everyone else).
Not to be forgotten: Many others in the industry keep the wheels turning, from bar tenders and cooks to lift ticket sales and desk jockeys. Everyone plays their part to keep the chairs turning so you can get your laps in and make some of the best memories of your life. Wherever you ride, these people directly impact your day on the hill all season long so don’t be afraid to talk to them and let ‘em know you appreciate their efforts!