Ski instructor, mountain guide, groomer driver, rescue dog trainer, snowmaker, tracker, rescuer, lift operator manager, climbing instructor… The list of jobs on the mountain is as long as a Canadian winter: good news! Overview.
SNOW PARK COORDINATOR
These days ski resorts must have their snow parks attractive to young skiers or snowboarders who enjoy spectacular acrobatics or an adrenaline rush. This job consists of designing parks, planning the work, making changes to existing sections while always keeping safety of persons and the course in mind. This is also often done by a team made up of volunteers and employees, supervised by the jobholder who must also regularly identify the needs and expectations of park users and organize events. The job requires knowledge of the laws governing operation of a park and mastery of software for preparing models. Leadership and a sense of teamwork (with security and trail maintenance staff) are also values needed to perform this job successfully.
TRAIL MAINTENANCE COORDINATOR
This job consists of coordinating the various activities for ski trail maintenance (mountain bike trails in summer) and for best management of resources (employees and volunteers) to achieve the ski resort’s objectives. The job requires different qualities such as the sense of direction on the mountain, mastery of heavy machinery (mechanical groomer and shovel), organization and management of priorities, relationship skills (good communicator, leadership) and communication skills as well as the ability to handle cold and stress.
SKI SCHOOL DIRECTOR
This position is often entrusted to an instructor who also holds a certificate (30 credits) and has 2 to 3 years experience in management. A ski school director must ensure proper operation of the school and smooth running of activities, and make sure that rules and procedures are followed properly. He must therefore make the needed decisions and pay attention to how they are applied so that the services offered are of high quality and meet customer expectations. The director also has a major role to play in human terms with selecting, training, supervising and motivating instructors. Finally, he is in contact with the clientele when the situation requires, settling a dispute with a customer, for example.
Since you can’t always count on Mother Nature to have good snow on the ski slopes early in the season and to receive enough snow cover all winter, the snowmaker’s work is called for. There is heavy pressure on this man who must manage the artificial snow network, ensure that it operates properly and avoid ice patches from forming below the snow cannons. He is at work during fall, with the reinstallation of the snow cannons, then is working during the production phase in winter and performs maintenance and dismantles the installations from March to the end of April. The snowmaker therefore sets the amount of snow to be produced and, once weather conditions are met (temperatures from -2 to -12ºC), starts production through a computer; this is where the fine water droplets and pressurized air meet to create the white gold that contributes to the ski resorts’ success!
INTERVIEW WITH A SKI SCHOOL INSTRUCTOR
Sebastian Gruetter is currently a student at McGill in applied mathematics. During his high school and college years (from 15 to 18 years old) he was a snowboarding instructor for youths aged 8 to 15 in Morin-Heights (Québec).
HOW DID HIRING GO?
The ski school offers training to become a pre-instructor. Then we pass practical tests which let us get level 1 certification, essential for becoming instructors. For the following years, we are on the job as soon as our season has gone well.
WHAT PROBLEMS HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED AS A SNOWBOARD INSTRUCTOR?
It’s not always easy to manage a group of children with different levels. Indeed, some learn much faster than others. The challenge is therefore to keep up the motivation of the more advanced ones while taking care of those who are less able.
ASIDE FROM TRAINING, WHAT DOES THE SKI SCHOOL OFFER TO EDUCATORS?
The ski school offers a variety of activities such as parties, competitions between instructors, the costume day, etc., which contributes to creating a very good atmosphere and establishing excellent relations between instructors. In addition, the Morin-Heights ski school offers a 50% discount on food and a 10% discount on equipment repair.
WHAT APTITUDES ARE NEEDED TO BE A GOOD INSTRUCTOR?
It’s important to have self-confidence, to be able to teach dynamically and enthusiastically, to be able to interact with children. In addition, it is necessary to have good communication skills and be able to withstand the Canadian cold!
HOW HAS THE LAST THREE YEARS’ EXPERIENCE BEEN BENEFICIAL TO YOU?
As far as my personal life is concerned, I have made many friends and have developed well socially as a teenager. For my schooling, this experience has let me escape the stress of school on the weekends… and I’ve been able to improve my snowboarding skills as well!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON WANTING TO BECOME A SKI SCHOOL INSTRUCTOR?
It’s a great first job for a young person with a passion for winter sports. Since it’s a first job, it lets you learn several important things such as being professional with your boss and his customers, satisfying customer needs, etc. The pay is good for a young person going to high school, as well. Why just have fun on the snowboard on the weekend when you can get paid for it!