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Yo... Rio, Ridgehiker and other Bozeman and Big Sky skiers

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have worked at Big Sky for 11 winters and 5 summers, the last 7 have been with the Snow Safety Department, the last 2 as the Snow Safety Director. About 2 weeks ago, I was told I would not be re-hired. "Not a team player" I was told. If they mean that I care too deeply about guest and employee safety and keeping a good and experienced ski patrol around, I plead guilty. Since the accident in 1996 when a good friend was killed in an explosives accident, I have been vocal that the company (Boyne) needed to step up and pay the ski patrol a living wage, provide some benefits and try to keep good people around. I guess they got sick of it.
Don't get me wrong, I love Lone Mountain and have enjoyed working there. In the past many people on this forum and other have slammed Big Sky for thinking it is a "World Class" resort. Whatever they have said, its true, Big Sky is a world class ski mountain operated by a 3rd class management team. The company rewards below average performance and ousts good management as quickly as possible.
At this time I am looking into other options in the ski industry, there are plenty of places good workers are rewarded and treated with respect.
Big Sky will not be unsafe because I am no longer there, but the early openings and new terrain we had operational last year may be history until the new snow safety director (whoever that is) gets settled in. Support the ski patrol, but remember, the company (Boyne) doesn't give a rats a$$ about its employees or its guests. :

[ October 09, 2002, 11:51 AM: Message edited by: BSR ]
post #2 of 9
yo bsr,

ridgehiker here, i just replied to your powmag post. I suppose we have come close to meeting, and may even have, for sure have some friends in common. I really do wish you the best, i've seen the best and brightest forced out of ski resorts before, and am sure i will again. Its why, long ago, i decided i would always buy a pass and never work at a resort again.

Good luck to you,


ps, lets make some turns at BB this year!
post #3 of 9

Like fez/ridgehiker, I read your post over at the powder forum. Sorry to hear about your job loss, I think they are making a big mistake. I was there the week in '96 that the patroller lost their life. I remember how somber everybody around the resort felt, as I did too. Big Sky, and Boyne for that matter has made some big mistakes, including leaving two guests on the lift overnight. Accidents happen, I understand, but when will corporate America learn that the bottom line doesn't always need to grow? (I nearly left my last job on ethics issues, I had them, they didn't)

Paying patrollers a livable salary is something that many resorts need to take note to. I have no clue how much one makes, but I am sure that it is not nearly enough. Pay your employees well, and your service level will increase, because the love of the sport will only take you so far.

Its not just Boyne making these mistakes, as was stated in the Powder thread. Corporate America needs splinters to be heard. You were doing the right thing being a pain in the ass about issues that needed to be resolved. It was just easier for Boyne to toss you for a yes-man. Sad.

My sister works in management for Boyne's insurance company and sees the accident reports that your teams filled out. From what I understand, the reports are many volumes in length, which happens in skiing, but how often do you believe that it was due to resort negligence?

Best of luck finding a new, better job, where your valid opinions will not go unheard.
post #4 of 9

I, too, am sorry to hear you're parting company with Big Sky.

As management of many (way too many) ski areas has gradually shifted from the founders (passionate, crazy people who truly cared about skiing and the total ski experience) to bottom line-oriented hired guns, many of the intangibles have suffered. I call Snow Safety an intangible because most day-skiers really have little or no idea how much judgement, experience, "feel", and nail-biting goes into making the decision on whether an avalanche-prone mountain is safe for skiers or not.

It's interesting that many ski area managers will gladly spend *hundreds* of millions of dollars constructing ever more lavish real estate projects but pay patrollers basically minimum wage. It's outrageous.

Good luck in your search. There are ski areas out there that take mountain safety seriously, and I hope you find a home at one of them.

post #5 of 9

Wow! Sorry to hear about. Their loss. : We exchanged a couple of PM's last season regarding patrol operations at my mountain. I was impressed by your professionalism, knowledge and advocacy for your fellow patrollers and guests. I wish there were more pro's like you in the business. Best of Luck Amigo!
post #6 of 9
Hi BSR. Sorry to hear about your job loss, but being Big Sky, it doesn't surprise me. Having lived around here since before big sky existed, this is just another example in a long list of ethical detours. From the beggining, when the railroad was able to trade with the forest service for ownership of that beautiful mountain and the poor unsafe construction which happened in the seventies. I worked up there a couple of times in the seventies. In fact some of those original gondola holes, when the resort was just a clear cut, have my name on them. Big sky has always put it's bottom line over good judgement and service to the community. Boyne simply took the behaviour to another level. Somehow, I think Chet is rolling over in his grave.

Big sky is here and nothing will change that. I do like skiing there, but I don't like the corporate behaviour behind the great ski mountain. I have a number of friends who work there, and wish them the best. As always it leaves me with the question, When is big sky going to get it right? How long do we have to wait?

Oh well. Good luck to you.
post #7 of 9
I was at a snow safety workshop a couple of years after the unfortunate explosives accident on Lone Peak. The participants were still talking about it, but the course conductor said things have changed at Big Sky. They did some hiring in the snow safety department that had improved safety 100% at the area. I assume he was talking about you. How's that for some "terminal feedback"?

Look at your firing as a great opportunity to work for a better organization. I'm with Ric, though--it's a shame that mountains can't rise up and swallow the humans that piss them away.
post #8 of 9
It's alaways disappointing to hear that a pricipled, sincere person who was doing his best for the company and the sport is let go out of greed or some misplaced quest for the Company Good. I'm sorry to hear of your predicament. I understand that resorts need to make a profit, that way they keep the resort open and we get to ski. So often though the grab for higher profits comes via a higher cost to the employees and customers. I don't know why we can't be content with a fair profit, or a fair wage, but this problem isn't confined to the ski industry.
post #9 of 9

Best of luck. Tis a shame you are leaving the area (or are their opportunities at Bridger for you?) I have mixed emotions about Big Sky. The mountain continues to grow & expand to feed a demand for houses and condos on the ski slope. This is great for us locals because it means we have world-class skiing on uncrowded slopes right at our doorstep. On the other hand, I worry about the day they no longer need the locals' money and start to squeeze us out.

PS - If you're going to be in Bozeman anytime in the near future let me know & I'll buy you a beer (or shot of Wild Turkey or whatever).
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