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Complete Life Change

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok - so after having skied 4-7 days a week (depending on the week) in the winters since I was in Jr. High school, as a competitor and/or a pro. I'm thinking of a change. 25 years of of skiing full time (how many days is that?) Anyways, after living in many states, and several countries -- skiing full time has been the one constant. But things are stacking up like I need to take a sabbatical:

-- Our little boy's projected birthdate is December 20th, right in the middle of the busy season for the ski biz.

-- My computer and writing business has really gotten busy, and though $ has never been my reason for living - it does bring me as much in an hour as I often make in a day of skiing.

-- One of our cars just died.

-- The mountain I work at has made fairly questionable changes in the management for this upcoming season. Changes that won't likely effect me much personally, but after having been a middle manager for a cocaine addict/manic depressive mountain manager in Colorado . . . and gone through hell and left the entire freaking state because of it, I'm a bit sensitive about bad mangement now!

-- Related to the management change, all the other full time trainers have quit, gone part time, or been promoted, leaving me as the only full-time trainer (or they will hire in green trainers) -- sounds like too much work!


Sooooo - I'm thinking. Mid-week passes are cheap. I have always hated skiing on weekends, but never so much as now in these East Coast crowds, and I've pretty much always refused to ski on weekends or holidays unless I'm being paid to do it. So a mid-week pass would work well.

This is a BIG change in my life though if I do it. I've been skiing full time since I was a little kid. Raced, competed on the extreme circuit, taught it, taught it to teachers, managed the program, been in videos and in print doing it, had a couple hundred ski articles published, and basically just molded my life around the industry.

Advantages I see are that a weekday pass would let me ski a few days a week but I would not have to ski on weekends or holidays. I would not have to ski when its raining.

BUT . . . it would be an enormous life change, and I'm very unsure of it. And will I have the discipline to still get up there and ski nearly as often if I'm not doing it as a job? No insult intended to anybody, but becoming a "weekend warrior" is my nightmare.

At this point, the way things are lining up - I'm thinking it needs to happen this year. But that I'll call it a "Sabbatical" for now . . . and see how it goes. I'll pay my PSIA dues, my USSCA dues, keep my contacts, help out the various customers around the continent that want to fly me out and do stuff, keep rebuilding my ski writing . . . but not work for a resort.

This is traumatic for me. Only my wife and I have talked about this at all. And though I'm leaning at this moment towards taking a Sabbatical, my mind is not made up - and I'm not commited towards any action. So this is a show for me of how much I respect the minds who are in Epic. Any input welcome.

[ November 04, 2002, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #2 of 28
Hey Todd,
Sounds like it could be a good idea to me. However, if you are interested in staying in the biz in VT. Okemo has an opening (I believe) for ski school manager since the director left after nearly 30 years and the previous manager is now the director. You certainly wouldn't have to worry about Dan being some crazed drug addict. He's a great guy. Could be some good changes happening there - might be a chance to make a real impact too. pm me if you have any interest (though I don't have real frequent computer acess)
post #3 of 28
Todd, you've been there, done that, and not having to ski when you don't want to, may it be because of lousy weather or because you want to play with your baby, will be liberating.

Both my wife and I were good and popular instructors when, after teaching for 25 years we gave it up at age 55 and not only do we love it but we credit our continued interest in skiing to having quit.

Teaching four days a week, often at night for night skiing, in the rain and sleet, on ice, when, no matter how much you wanted that beginner to succeed and he didn't, it got old because it became a chore. So we decided to quit working and just ski and never regretted it.

Take that hiatus and you may never go back to the professional side again with all it's headaches, yet be free to write your excellent articles on skiing and mostly, get some skiing done, all day long without having to report in.

It is normal to be aprehensive about the change, but you will still be in contact with the pros you worked with and they will still respect you. Some may even envy you.

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

Okemo is one of the mountains who's managerial structure I most admire. And I've talked with many employees/managers of the mountain. The fact that they are family owned rather than corporate is something that by itself makes it a wonderful place to potentially work I think. I think corporate ownership explains 90% of what has gone wrong with skiing in the last 20 years.

However - though Okemo is probably the most attractive area to me on the East Coast, its just simply farther than I'm willing to drive right now unfortunately. But we do belong to a co-op that owns a large vacation farm very close to Okemo, and maybe in the future we'll spend a winter or more living at the resort and working there.



Thanks man, you have more experience in the industry than nearly anybody I know. And thats a compliment, I'm not saying you are old . . . well, I'm saying that too! [img]smile.gif[/img] .

Anyways hearing of your similar experiences means a lot to me.

I guess I question my own self discipline, I don't want to be lazy and sit inside drinking a beer and watching a movie rather than go up and ski. How did you find this? It sounds like you were as or more passionate of skiers than I was, and that you did not have a problem. So I hope this would be the case for me as well.

It would be much easier to have a slopeside house so that I could just bop in and out, but thats not a reality for most of us eh?
post #5 of 28
Hi Todd, I am currently facing the same decisions. One road leads to more work as a carpenter on very high ends houses. Nice indoor work during the cold Montana winters, good money, satisfying work that is appreciated by our clients. If I take this road, I will not buy a season pass and will not ski the 120 days I have in the past.
The other road leads to Silverton Co. as a BLM employee, overseeing the development of Silverton Mountain and Durango ski resort. Either way, I would live in a great place and have the option of really free skiing with no radio and only the responsibility of enjoying myself. After 18 years of working for corporate ski companies I have had enough, maybe I will feel different in a year or so, but for now its a relief. Good luck on your road.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hey BSR,

That would indeed be a tough call. Montana is an awesome state, and it sounds like work you are accomplished at.

Silverton is from my old neck of the woods and I think it has the potential to be one of the best ski resorts in North America, we've skied back country there and it certainly has among the most radical terrain in North America, great snow, and is a wonderful, uncrowded, relaxed place. I used to lead summertime hiking, train and 4x4 tours around the Durango/Silverton area and it has a colorful and fun history as well.

Good luck in your choice!


I like your tagline by the way. It reminds me of what I'd tell people when they asked if I believe in a higher power. I say I not only beLIEve in one, I know one exists . . . its called "Gravity". [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ November 04, 2002, 06:34 PM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #7 of 28
Wow...some of us have been there and can empathize. I gave up skiing and medical certifications for several years, changing from the rescue end to the recreational end. Went from public to private sector.

Keeping in touch with the major organizations made the comeback easy(I think).

Part of the equation you left out.... is family stuck here in Vermont, or can you relocate?

Definitely take your sabbatical. Keep your "cards" current to make it easier to return in the future on your own terms. If you want to PM me, I might have on organization that could use your services 6-10 days (weekends) a season.

Enjoy life...
post #8 of 28
Let me ask one question, Todd. It was a question a wise man asked me when I was going through a similar transition. Are you your role, or is that something you can pull on and take off like a set of clothes? If the latter, don't look at it as permanent. This set of clothes is just hanging in the closet for a spell. You can always put them back on.

But if the former, you have some work to do.

The freedom that comes from making your role a voluntary decision, instead of an identity imperative, is immense.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all this feedback guys. Even though we may all have our spats here sometimes, the fact is - when it comes to this question. I can't think of anybody else who can give more valuable feedback. There are politics involved in addressing co-workers, and most family and friends simply are not the ski-addicts that we are, so its tough to find people who realize what a huge issue this kind of thing is!


We are not really "stuck" in Vermont. But we do have a wonderful piece of property here. Any my wifes family is right in town and very much a nuclear and supportive family, unlike my scattered and multiple-divorced family. So for my wife and kid (soon plural) its much better family-time and support than we could get out west on my home turf. Also, Bekah (my wife) spent 10 year out west with me, so I owe her some east time now (I met her when she was teaching skiing in Colorado actually!).
And, I'm PM'ing you now.


That is excellent wisdom, and I think that I can pull on and off my previous roles as you suggest. I hope I can. But then, I may well find I don't want to. I am thinking that maybe its time to explore the ski writing more seriously than I have in the past. Its kind of a backdoor in the fun parts and perks of the industry. And it means not working for anybody, as my computer business has taken off - I've realized more and more that I'm simply not designed to be an employee. I like to benefit and suffer directly from my own hard work and mistakes, than answer through a 3rd party. But owning my own ski area is not a likely thing to happen, so I have to look other ways.

Thanks again guys!
post #10 of 28

First, let me say that I enjoy your knowledge and perceptiveness regarding skiing and the skiing world that you so willingly share, both in this forum and in the articles that you have posted.

If I were to offer a suggestion, it would be this: make two columns on a sheet(s) of paper. In the first column include all those things that you really enjoy about your present work, family, lifestyle, location (include other key conditions that are particularly relevant to you in some way including those life goals that are important to you). In the second column, note all the negatives and any impediments to your goals.

Attach a numeric value to each item, on a scale of 1-5. Then total things up and see how things stand. This can be fun and you may find that it will help you see things more clearly. Good luck.
post #11 of 28
Being someone who has experienced your awesome teaching talents first hand, I needed to think a bit before posting a reply, lest anyone claim that my opinion is suggestive.

That being said. no matter how talented you are as a teacher, an undesirable working environment is an express route to burnout.
But you already know that.

Your writing is fabulous. But is it fueled by your cumlative experience, or your day to teaching experience, or both?
If you were not teaching contiually, would there be enough fuel to ignite the creative energy?

Realize that I am truly asking the question, not assuming anything.

But on the other hand, I have found that retrospect can be incredibly enlightening.

Also, I have seen some of your "geeky' articles on the sites that Mark visits, and you seem to have a passion for that sort of stuff, too. Its not like you are putting on a suit and tie and going to some downtown office. Working from home and being able to watch your little ones grow up could be a wonderful experience.

EEK! i'm rambling, because I don't really know what the answer is.
And now that I've probably confused you even more.....
post #12 of 28
Don't ask me - I have a weird way of handling this sort of stuff...

Remember life is short - try to be happy in it.

Whatever you decide - I hope it works as you envisage & you enjoy the experience.

Take care
Big hugs
post #13 of 28
Patient: It hurts when I do THIS.
Doctor: Well, don't do it then.

Skiing is about enjoyment, in whatever form you choose to take it, and when you stop having fun it's time to focus elsewhere until it's fun again. Obviously, you're a talented instructor and would be a painful short-term loss to the industry, but a teacher that slowly has the passion ground out of them is no good to anyone.

Take some time off and make some of those "I don't care who is watching" turns.
post #14 of 28
If it'll prevent you from posting any more cliché-riddled "New England Sucks" or "People Who Live On The East Coast Are Like Rats In A Cage" threads, I say do it.

More time with your family, working from home on your own schedule, skiing purely for pleasure, no aggravation from corporate-run ski areas... where's the downside? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 28
If it means you have more time to share your knowledge with me on this forum, then do it!

(Talk about me being selfish!)

If you choose to take a sabatical, make sure you don't burn any bridges, to give you options on going back, maybe not for 5-10 years, but always keep in touch with what's going on.

Consider what is really important to you. What will make you feel more fulfilled as a person, as a spouse, as a father.
What makes you feel truly happy?
Where do your responsibilities lie?
Which decision are you more likely to regret in 5 years time?
Which one will be "The Road Not Taken"

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost, 1920

post #16 of 28
Todd, Ann worked a year longer than I did and early that season I went along practically every time she went out and sat with the instructors on breaks and soon got tired of their complaining and politicing, you know how it is, this trainer talks too much and that instructor hits on the goodlooking girls in his class, etc. etc.

For the rest of the season and thereafter with Ann when she also quit we sat at a seperate table with other friends and found the instructors would stop by and ask various questions or just visit.

I would now and then teach a speciality class when I was needed, as when we teach high school German class kids in German all the time they are there. Privately, instructors who were going for certification would have me take a look at them and sometimes other pros would realize something was off asnd came to me to check them out, it was easier since I was out of the loop and it wouldn't get back to the school.

Ever since the season after Ann quit we only go out during the day on weekdays when the weather suits us and it is uncrowded.
We still have many friends among instructors and are always invited to any shindigs and to the after-certification parties.

Both of us have made it a rule not to wear our PSIA badges once we didn't teach anymore even though we were still members. We do have them pinned in our PSIA soft wallets, it often helps in getting free tickets or a discount in other than our home area.

after 25 years of teaching we got as a perk free skiing for life at the two home areas just a half hour freeway drive from home.

Sometimes we have to motivate ourselves to go but once we are out there we have never regretted going. Sometimes one or the other of us will not feel like going and then we go solo, that's OK too.

post #17 of 28
Todd, I think change can be very good and it sounds like you can always go back if you choose. Is this your first child? If so that may also influence your decision after you have been a father for awhile. Good luck.
post #18 of 28
Hi Todd,

Read all the posts. I sounds like you are hitting, what in the executive world was called, " burn out." Some of these execs became ski bums because they could afford the life style.

What should be hitting you square in the eyes is that you soon will have two young lives, two human beings who will need lots of care. They will have lots of economic needs beyond food and shelter. I think the changes that you have recognized need to be made, must be done in an atmosphere of honest and direct commmunications with your wife. Make sure that "everything " is out on the table. Your decisons for the next 16-18 years have to include what is in the best interest of your children. Mothers often get there sooner than fathers.

You may not want to hear this, but it takes finances, it takes....Ok her it is...MONEY. So, if you haven't solved the financial part of your "life change" equation, that needs to be done, and yes it will dominate the process and choices that are available to you, and your family.

It will be a balancing act meeting the needs of your family
[ because family is more important than skiing] and being able to participate in your life long passion, the sport of skiing. The big plus is that skiing is a great family sport, the negative, is the cost.

So change for the better is good. Positive changes for the benefit of your family is a noble undertaking.

It's not easy to make these types of changes. It takes courage, communication, and determination to see it through. Have a long range broad plan, but impelment the plan one day at a time.
post #19 of 28
Perspective changed at all this am Todd?
post #20 of 28

Life is too short to be "fed up" with managment or politics. You have a wonderful daughter and now a son on the way. If you take a break you can spend more time with them. Skiing won't go away, and it will become more enjoyable. Then you will return to your family happier and be a better father/spouse.

Best of luck to you in your decision.
post #21 of 28
I had to make a similar decision about 13 years ago. It took me 5 years to decide to leave the company I had spent most of my life working for and had immensely enjoyed but was facing many of the same issues you mentioned in your post.

I have since learned a number of things about decision making and have also learned some of my major decisions I've made were wrong, partially wrong, and thank goodness, a number of right ones.

One of the decision-making tools that may prove useful is called the F. Roosevelt method. Perhaps you've heard of it. It is used by some sales people on their clients. It's basically a balance sheet with pros in the left hand column and the cons of the decision in the right hand column. Upon finishing the list, the academic portion of your decision should be obvious. Then you must persuade your heart or have your heart persuade you.

Did I mention it took me 5 years to leave that company?....Emotions, emotions! What complicated people we humans are.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hello! Thanks for all the positive input folks!

Last Friday, I bought a seasons pass.

This is a BIG deal for me.

The following is not tooting my horn . . . its just trying to explain the depth of my commitment to this industry, no doubt each of you have equal experience and commitment to your own chosen walks of life:

--I was skiing 5 days a week (minimum) from Jr. High School on (went to High School in Europe where they realize that not ONLY Football is a valid school sport, so I raced every day in school) In College skied 5 days a week, then skied full time for a living for 10 years after college.

--I went from racing full time as a kid, to teaching skiing and racing in college, to being a competitor on the international Extreme Skiing Circuit. Then on to being a training director, a race coach, and a ski school director.

--From being a ski company gear tester, company demo team member and representative, and being a ski stunt model for video and print - plus having a few hundred ski articles of my own published . . . . . I've sacrified most of my life to this sport.

And I have no regrets.

But this is a massive life change for me.

My computer business is doing well, and commiting more time to it than to skiing will reap more $ for my family, which I'll do for the moment. But even as an ex-Ayn Rand worshiper . . . this is not the main reason I'm making a change for now, in fact (and I don't want to argue about it) I'm quite sure that greed is what will eventually bury the United States.

No, the money is fun for now, but overall its more about the fact that I'm sick of skiing for corrupt (greedy) corporately owned ski companys. And I'm sick of not setting my own agenda.

I've had a bunch of offers lately for doing clinics in this country and even on other continents. My ski book is due soon for publishing, and I'm going to get back into writing smaller ski articles again. I'm going to keep my PSIA and USSCA certification current.

I just don't want to work for a ski area anymore.

So, again, thanks for all the postive feedback. Some of it made me blush and I'm really not sure I'm worthy of it. But overall - I'm starting to feel less insecure, and more confident about this change all the time!

I'm not having a lot of time to check into Epic much lately, hopefully that will change since I love the forum. But meanwhile, if you want a certain connection with me - send a PM through Epic and my email will alert me to it and I'll get back to you shortly. I really enjoy all communications with all of you fellow ski addicts, so don't ever worry about "imposing" please! Even a simple "hello" is welcome!

Thanks all!
~Todd M.

[ November 14, 2002, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: GravityGuru (Todd) ]
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thinking about making up new business cards for being a "Snow Sports Consultant" [img]smile.gif[/img] I mean if I keep writing some articles, teach clinics now and then, and do various other misc things . . . but don't work for a company. What the hell am I? And making any $ from it makes all the ski costs continue to be a write-off, but its much easier for the IRS if you lump it all in one catagory. So I'm thinking "Snow Sports Consultant".

What do you think?
post #24 of 28
Sounds like a plan!

Which resort did you get your season pass to?
post #25 of 28
Winter Lifestyle Consultant
post #26 of 28
Sounds great. Will you still be in the same area?
post #27 of 28

Your most valuable assets are your integrity, reputation, experience & contacts. Thats what opens doors. Company resumes are worth jackshit (as we say down here).

Having time to think creates opportunities. Add some blind, naked confidence and "things will happen".

Snow Sports Consultant sounds ideal.

Cull your ski quiver to two pairs only and it may be easier to focus.

Good Luck

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Dchan & Tog -- I bought the pass for Mt. Snow because since I'm a Chamber of Commerce member here, they had a dirt cheap deal for it. Plus its the closest, and additionally - I still have an office up there to use as my massive locker! [img]smile.gif[/img] Actually I'll be cleaning whatever is left of mine out of it in the next week and turning in my keys. <sigh> Not having a slopeside place with a TV, Stereo and Couch in it to dress in and crash in will be a change. I guess I'll just work out of my car for now. I see there are public lockers you can rent, but then I guess you would have to store your skis seperately? For having been doing this full time for so long I sure don't know jack sh*t about the day to day realitys of being a seasons pass holder! Guess I'll learn!

James -- Winter Lifestyle Consultant, I like that! I really like that! Hmmmm, thinking . . . . (can you smell the smoke?)

Oz -- Or my lack of said assests could be my detriment! Well, hopefully its more in the green than red! Cull my quiver to two skis? I've actually just been realizing that I have to pay for my stonegrinding and such now . . . and was looking at the wall of skis going "$30 a pop for a grind and full tune? . . . pretty expensive!"

Mt. Snow just delayed their opening another week. Maybe I'll have to trek north. The other Eastern Area I've worked at, Jay Peak, apparently was open for a couple of days and then closed again. Bit of a warm spell, but its cooling back off again.
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