Pennsylvania Ski Jobs/Ski Careers
White Haven, PA-November, 2007-The last Pennsylvania ski resort to see the sun rise in the east is Seven Springs. But when it does, Dick Barron is standing somewhere near the mountaintop, taking in a breathtaking scene. It’s one he’s absorbed for nearly 37 years. That’s how long he’s been working in the ski industry, all of it at Seven Springs where he started as a patroller, straight out the Army.
But Dick is just one of many career employees in an industry that most people enter simply to work in an outdoor environment while earning some money and of course, a lot of free skiing.
At Camelback Mountain in the eastern Poconos, Bill Toy never thought he’d see a lifetime career when he showed up for his first day as a lift operator at the age of 19. That was 33 years ago. Bill is now Camelback’s Mountain Operations Manager.
It’s an experience shared by Tim Koons at central Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain. It was 37 years ago that Tim, still in high school and lured by the prospect of free skiing, took a job in the rental shop. As he rose to manager of the shop after graduation, he recalls, “I never thought this would be a career. I just liked to ski. But then I thought, there may be something here.”
All three and others like them found that magic “something” and never looked back. They rose through the ranks from lift operators, snow makers and rental shop technicians to top management. The common thread among them is a “hands on” attitude. Dick Barron isn’t roaming the Seven Springs Mountain summit at dawn just for the spectacular view that takes in downtown Pittsburgh. Now, Director of Ski Operations, he wants to see for himself the consistency of the newly made snow and quality of the overnight grooming. “It’s a matter of pride.” For Barron, every day on that mountain is a “Wow” day, where “Twelve hours go by so fast, it doesn’t seem like work.”
It’s amazing how similar their stories become. Bill Toy at Camelback also talks about, “pride” and “walking up and down Margie’s Delight all night, making 2 feet of powder.” Bill is referring to the mountain’s most challenging slope. And then he beams, “When morning comes and I hear the first skiers of the day just hooting and hollering as they come down that trail, that’s when I really feel I’ve accomplished something.”
Incidentally, Bill notes, “The guy who taught me to make snow is still here and still working at the mountain.”
The rewards go far beyond just pride in a job well done. At Liberty Mountain Tim Koons recalls, “I met my wife here. She worked in sales. She’s still here. We now have an 18 year old son and a 10 year old daughter. They both grew up skiing here. How can it get better than that?”
As Base Manager, Koons is responsible for everything from restaurants and retail to the tubing chutes. While Liberty is his lifetime occupation, he’s also confident that his experience in skiing would let him move to any part of the business world including building trades, food service, hospitality and retail.
Right now as ski resorts across Pennsylvania are looking for winter staff and young prospective employees see free skiing in their future, what are the chances for a career rather than a short run job?
Bill Toy envisions more changes coming to the industry including new generations of snow making systems that will require new generations of operators and managers. Youngsters who have a, “solid work ethic”, he says, “will have the same chance I had to make a career of it.”
Dick Barron, who has seen the skier count at Seven Springs go from 300 a day to 12,000 also sees career opportunities in the industry. But he points out, “the needs of the business today are more challenging and so is the path to management.”
For Barron, Tim Koons and Bill Toy, careers in skiing are “satisfying” and “filled with variety.” And by the way, they still enjoy free skiing.
And so, if you just happen to be looking for a job at a ski area this winter, check out your favorite resorts web pages for job openings and job fairs. You’ll find positions on and off the mountain. Check out the Pennsylvania Ski Area Association web site at: www.skipa.com for convenient links to each member area.
And remember, it could be more than just a job. It could be the start of a career.
The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association (PSAA), consisting of member ski areas statewide, is a non-profit organization that was developed to promote and serve the Pennsylvania Ski Industry.
Contact: LINDA IRVIN, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association
MEMBER SKI RESORTS
Alpine Mountain, Bear Creek Ski & Rec Area, Big Boulder, Blue Knob Ski Area, Blue Mountain, Camelback Ski Area, Crystal Lake, Ski Center
Eagle Rock Resort, Elk Mountain, Hidden Valley Resort, Jack Frost Mountain, Liberty Mountain Resort, Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Shawnee Mountain, Ski-Big Bear, Ski Denton, Ski Roundtop, Ski Sawmill, Snö Mountain, Tanglwood Ski Area, Tussey Mountain Ski Area, Whitetail Resort.