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So where is the best SS to work?!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I will be starting my next job hunt pretty soon, still searching for the perfect ski school.

If you could up-sticks and work at any resort, where would you go?
post #2 of 29

You have to define perfection and find the closest match.

For example, for me, perfection is:

1) I don't have to move to work there
2) I can get there in an hour or less
3) I love the terrain
4) The people in the school are cool to hang with
5) I can control my schedule

Notice how money isn't even on the list. The top of the pay scale is still peanuts around here.

I love to hear those in the SS with access to the numbers gloat about the profits at line-ups. Every year we all get a two-bit raise, whether we earned it or not.
post #3 of 29
Wherever you go, Ant, there will be disappointing aspects of "work" that will come and go with changes in the others there, especially the managers.

Over the last 30 years of working at two resorts, I've had about a dozen different ski school directors/supervisors. Only a couple of them failed to disappoint at times.

So if you want to pick a spot to work at with an eye toward longevity and developing a client following, pick one that suits your skiing tastes. Every other aspect of the resort is likely to change every few years.
post #4 of 29
The key word is WORK. Sooner or later it comes down to that.(sucks)
I'd rather play for a living and take" work breaks"
post #5 of 29
If you go to Mammoth, I'll take a lesson with you.
post #6 of 29
Mammoth would be a good choice if management is a major consideration. Hmm. Terrain is good. Season is long. California requires employers to give show up pay. They need lots of noncitizens, never seem to have enough instructors, have as good a training program as is available, are exploring new ways of doing business...

Yes, definitely, I think Mammoth is the place for you, ant.
post #7 of 29
And you would get to train with The Great Spinheli.
post #8 of 29
It has been my understanding that there are some PRIMO people at Stowe, including Dave Merriam and his wife Eva Pfosi Merriam, and Stu Campbell. Nolo has told me that Stu is the "gold standard" of ski instructors, and Dave Merriam has been on and maybe I think more than a team member on the Demo Team. Plus, at Stowe, you get a great place to live, near Burlington, Montreal and Boston. Plus, if you come here, my wifey will be your client!

[ May 10, 2002, 10:04 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #9 of 29
Ant You might want to look into working for Deer Valley here in Utah. My wife works for the resort part time. She loves working there.She is not an Instrutor But works closly with the Ski school selling lessions, child care and other services for the guest.Deer Valley Has a reputation for treating it's employees vary well.Deer Valley believes that a Happy Employee means that the guest will also be happy.I know a lot of people that work there, some could go to other resorts and make more money but they stay at Deer Valley becuse of the way Deer Valley values them.I also know that They want to Make the Deer Valley Ski School one of the top Ski Schools in the Nation.I've been told that they are looking to add about 100 new Ski Instructors this coming season.Maybe TR@DV or Yadnar could be some help they both work at Deer Valley.Yadnar teaches skiing there and TR is a lift supervisor.
post #10 of 29
Deer Valley is good. SSD is the gold standard of SSDs.
post #11 of 29
My DV instructor had "moved over" from PCMR and readily voiced his increased satisfaction. Always seems like lots of Aussie's teaching there.
post #12 of 29
The worse thing i can think of about the Ski School at Deer Valley is,They have The Worlds uglist Uniforms
post #13 of 29
whereas i think they're the most attractive i've seen. go figure.
post #14 of 29
Wherever you could make the most money?
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yes, but where is that? and it's got to be nice to work at, too!
post #16 of 29
So, Ryan, where's the picture?
post #17 of 29
I guess I have to throw in a plug for Vail/ Beaver Creek. While a long way from being perfect, the opportunities here are what you make them. But certainly it's size can be both a benefit and a detriment.

I don't disagree that Mammoth and DV are also wonderful places to work. Ouch- there's that word again... (4 letters, ends with k)

Is there such a place as the perfect ski area , as far as teaching goes?

If so- it would pay generously, you'd never work more than 1/2 days (in the afternoons, if it's a powder day), housing would be plentiful and reasonably priced, good bars, good restaurants(both offering great locals discounts), and all the students would be level 7's or better!


The secret is to pick one you feel you can stick with for a while. Nothing happens overnight. It will take time to build a clientele, to continue developing your skills, and to really get involved in what that area has to offer. There are no short cuts, big area or small. You will pay your dues, regardless!

I think Nolo said it well, with her list. It can't be just for the money, or none of us would be here!

Good luck with your decision! Let us know what you decide!

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Some good info and things to ponder! It's so hard to know, when you're looking from the outside (as I learned this season).
Interestingly, Deer Valley and Mammoth are both at the top of my "to try" list, and the comments here have reinforced this, especially the ones about Deer Valley (but they might insist on level III for foreigners).
Hey, what is the uniform?! that's always a consideration, you spend pretty-well the whole season in it!

Here's a weird thing: I actually LIKE to work! i'm a bit odd that way. I forgot to take my days off, most of the time, coudln't see any point in it.
I guess though, that with that I expect something back - a bit of feedback, to be told that I'm doing OK, even that i'm valued! (shock horror).

Pay is important to me, this is my job, all year round. I don't see any reason to apologise for that. Airfares have to be paid, after all.
But also, I don't turn up to work hoping to go skiing - I remember the part timers all hoping to not get work! You'd get guys standing further and further back in a most un=subtle manner, but the few fulltimers had a different attitude.
although on the rare powder days we had, I tried to sneak off before the private lessons were allocated (usually 8.30 before the groups started). Got chased across the quadrangle a few times! (as I waddled determinedly off).

So, tell me about Deer Valley's uniform! Breck's is about the worst i've seen, although our old red jackets at Mount Snow were comprehensively apalling.

And tell me, what's happened to Sun Valley, you never hear it mentioned. Do people still go there?
post #19 of 29

Just where to begin? How about this. I can't imagine "working" at another resort. If i were to go part-time on a perminate basis I would probably switch to one of the cottonwood resorts but as a place to "work" DV is at the top of my list.

We are looking to increase by about 100 instructors next year so the opportunity to join the ski school is there. No, you don't have to be a level three to be hired, we want new instructors at all levels. BUT, I heard that at their exit interviews all foreign instructors were told that due to changes in work visa requirments it might not be possible to for them to work here next season. The resort would love to have them back but it might be out of our hands.

What to expect if you do get on here. Things are slow from opening to Christmas/NewYears.
Over the holidays the opportunity is there to work ten to twenty days straight. January slows down and gives you the opportunity to clinic with some of the best trainers in the business and to ski the best snow and some of the best terrain in the world. February starts slow is slammed for Presidents Day week (another opportunity to work 10+ days straight if you want it) then slows down a little but builds quickly back to the point where, if you wanted to, you could work 30+ days in March. April dies and we close.

Expect to work lots of childrens classes. Thats just a fact of life, after all during our busy times about 10% of the skiers on our hill are children in group lessons and 20 to25% of our instructor numbers are involved in teaching them. The average class size during this time is eight for older children and six for the younger ones (41/2 to 6). These are all day programs and include lunch for both you and the students You'll also get plenty of chances to teach in the Semi-private program. This is our version of adult group lessons and the size is limited to four per group. The lesson lasts three hours and there is a morning and afternoon session. There will also be opportunity to teach privates but your first year here will probably be spent largely in the group programs. We do bend over backwards to comply with guest requests for a particular instructor but due to the fact that we only pre book half and full day lessons with everything else classed as "odd hour walk-in privates" makes things work a little different here than at many resorts.

If you like to work a lot then our return policy will work to your advantage. That works this way.
If you taught a childrens lesson yesterday and three of the children return today for another lesson the class is yours if you want it, even if you weren't on the schedule to work that day.
Bring one of your morning semi-private students back for the PM session and you"ll get the class they're in. I know of instructors who have managed to work ten days in a row during our slowest times using this policy to their advantage.

There is a drawback to DV. Short season. We open the first Saturday in Dec. and close the first or second Sunday in April. Still, most of our instructors make more in this short season than instructors teaching longer seasons at other resorts.

Finally, the uniforms. They're green, there are a lot of them, you wear it up to a hundred times a season. I wouldn't call them ugly but neither would I call them flashy or eye catching. They are uniforms, what more can I say.

Hope this helps, I'll be happy to answer any questions that you might have after reading this.

post #20 of 29
Hey Ydnar good to see you posting again. I've been thinking about getting together with you to talk about doing an early ski season clinic of some sort, something like what we did That last weekend at Deer Valley.That day was a big help for me. I took some of what you showed me over to Snowbird and there was a noticable improvment in my skiing. Now lets just see if we can make that improvement early on in the so I can put it to use the rest of the season.When the bears get here in February I have be able to at least keep up with some of them.
By the way Ant I have been talking to a lot of People in skier resevations here in Park City. All the resorts are saying that the phones have been ringing off the hook ever since The Olympics. The bookings are way up for next season. It should be a vary good year here in Utah for the ski resorts.
I'm suprised that Stein Eriksen dosen't make The Deer Valley Ski School all wear Bogner ski suits
post #21 of 29

I have this real old box that use to go on line and I think that it is going senile. Posting has become somewhat frustrating so i gave it up for a while. But I miss it so I'm trying to deal with the frustration and make a few post anyway.

I am planning on doing a couple "clinic days" along the lines of what we did at DV next fall for anyone who might be interested. I'll post more on this next fall but what it boils down to is I have always told my friends that I won't teach them for free but for a lift ticket, lunch and a few beers I'll ski with them and help them work on their skiing. And all bears are my friends unless they somehow prove otherwise.

Glad that you liked the changes in your skiing. By the end of the day you were skiing much smoother than when we started. On easier terrain the pop and drop had almost completely disappeared and was becoming less pronounced even the tougher conditions (and we certainly found some garbage conditions that day). This indicates that you were learning to use accurate, subtle, fine movements of the feet and legs to control your skis and then the skis were doing the work of moving your body around for you. We'll refine this further next season and when the bears get here you'll be ready to rip with the best of them.

post #22 of 29
ydnar a few days with you as a coach should do the trick. come next fall I'll meet you over at Alta before DV opens.
post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Ydnar, there's nothing like getting real info from someone involved! It sounds like they don't split adults from kids' ski school, that is, instructors get to do both?
That's a great idea, I really enjoyed the variety at Keystone of being able to teach both, each and every day (because private lessons were handled by the Adults ski school, and many privates were kids, and quite a few "adults" instructors didn't want to teach kids).

The visa thing is a bit of a concern, I know that the unemployment rate in the US is rising, due I guess to the general economic slowdown (the Australian economy is actually doing well in all quarters, low UE rate, interest rates rising - bad for borrowers, I know, but excellent for investment) but would be very surprised to see wholesale abandonment of the H2B.

Thinking further, if I was a year-round instructor (which I am) and my US employer told me there was doubt about my visa prospects for next season, I'd be hitting the job application road pronto, to ensure work for the following year.

I mean, here in Australia, they are still hiring foreign instructors, and this is despite the hiring clinic I attended last year having 80+ prospective ski instructors turn up, and over 100 boarders!

I've heard from a friend who defected from Vail to The Canyons this year that the Olympics coverage had resulted in massive exposure for the Park City resorts, and like you say, lots of pre-bookings.

Well, I've zotted off an email, I'll see what he says!

Sun Valley though, what's happened to it? I spent a few days there some years back, I guess its location makes it harder to get to, but Ketchum was lovely.
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
Another antipodean Vail-er added Telluride to the first list!

What the deal with the visas?
post #25 of 29
For a year round ski pro the key ingredients are that the resort is an international destination resort or close to a major centre, there is a decent amount of staff accommodation, a longish season and a big score on the "fur coat quotient". Make sure your application is in by the end of June at the latest to make the the first Visa application round in August.

Note: NEW employee visas WILL be tight for the new season.

In no particular order.

Deer Valley
Beaver Creek

Northstar @ Tahoe (nice little resort with excellent snow & work conditions)
Heavenly (VA now owns it)

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #26 of 29
I worked at Mammoth for 2 weekends (after the SoCal season was over, but before school was over), and really enjoyed it. There seems to be a fair amount of reasonably cheap housing available. The pay was amazing 2 years ago (although I heard that they may have cut some pay due to profitability issues), and the people were fun to work with. Also, the season is close to infinite, and if you want to work, you can usually stay until mid-June (might be an issue if you're on a 6-month visa). However, one thing that might be a problem for you is that Mammoth tends to be something of a weekend resort. There are large crowds on the weekends, but during the week it's relatively empty. This is because Mammoth is really a weekend trip resort for Southern California. You won't see a lot of people from out of state, because it's extremely difficult to get to Mammoth (fly to LA, drive 6 hours or fly to Reno, drive 3 hours past 10 other world-class resorts). So, I'm not really sure how much work there is during the week.
post #27 of 29
Deer Valley uniforms don't even come close to The Canyon's uniforms for ugly. their order got mixed up somehow and ski school ended up with the liftie uniforms. Totally, Totally UGH :
post #28 of 29
Yeah, but maybe they'll get more respect!
post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
What are the Canyons ones like? It's pretty rough on them, they had the horrible red Fila jacket that we had at Mount Snow before that, gosh they were a rotten uniform.

I'm a bit surprised at US uniforms. They often look like they are straight off the rack, with a ski school patch sewn on. In Oz, they commission a full uniform to be designed and sewn, the logos etc are embroidered on, and there is always matching trousers, not this sad black trousers affair. For some reason, most ski schools go for red!
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