Paid to play

By By Eric Williams

By Eric Williams

People come to Utah from all over the world to ski and board the best snow on Earth. Students at the U are no exception, and some of the U’s faculty were also drawn here by the beautiful Wasatch Mountains and the easy access to some of the world’s most famous ski resorts.

Not everyone can afford the expenses required to enjoy all that Utah ski resorts have to offer. But U students can ride the lifts without emptying their bank accounts. Washing dishes, bumping chairs, checking passes, fitting boots and parking cars — U students do all this and more for free season passes at area ski resorts.

Working at a ski resort is the perfect solution for students or any other mountain addict on a budget. Getting paid to have fun while spending time where you’d be hanging out anyway sounds like a dream job-but it can be reality for anyone willing to do some of the less glamorous work that keeps resorts running.

Just after the snow itself, the employees of a resort are its most valuable commodity. Happy workers make happy guests and ski resort management does all it can to keep smiles on everybody’s faces.

On top of season pass incentives, Cottonwood and Park City area ski resorts offer their student employees fair pay and a fun work environment.

In addition to off-time skiing, Alta Ski Area offers on-resort employees housing and meals at the Buckhorn dormitory. Alta has opportunities for both full- and part-time jobs and strives to be a fun place to work.

“I came here after college in ’74 and I’ve been working here ever since. I really enjoy it,” said Connie Marshall, director of marketing at Alta Ski Area.

Working in one of the country’s most recognized ski towns can make for a fun and interesting social life, says Kevin Gardner, a bellman and valet at The Canyons Grand Summit Hotel and student at Salt Lake Community College.

“Everybody working up here has common interests and friendships in and out of work,” Gardner said.

Although it can be a long commute to Park City, the pay at one of the three area resorts can compensate. Bellmen at The Canyons can make upward of $20 an hour after tips from parking cars and hauling bags for the resort’s big-spending guests.

Employees at Brighton Resort, The Canyons, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort can take advantage of the Triple Play voucher program, which allows employees to ski for free at one of the partner resorts up to twice a week.

Lift operators at Brighton start at $8 an hour and receive an all-access season pass. Lift operators, commonly known as lifties, have a job that probably isn’t on a lot of people’s career goal lists. They have access to the outdoors, however, and are able to get to know the resort’s regulars-and it pays the bills .

Arctic Cat drivers have the work-by-night, ride-by-day job mechanically-minded ski bums dream of. Driving around on a ski resort all night while listening to music sounds pretty mellow, but that’s only if you can get over the fact that you’re driving a $150,000 machine down steep, icy slopes.

Ski and snowboard instructors at Snowbird can make upward of $12 an hour plus tips, depending on their level of certification. Certified instructors can make good money while riding the slopes all day and don’t usually have anything to complain about — even with a first-timer from Tallahassee following them around.

Ski patrol, the self-proclaimed bad asses of the mountain, arguably have the best job on the hill. It’s hard to complain about getting paid to ski first tracks every morning, playing with explosives and being able to bring your dog to work. Getting bled on by a screaming 10-year-old may be the only downside. Most areas require all patrol applicants to have Emergency Medical Technician certification and pass a skiing and skills test before they are hired. All of the pros outweigh the con of being seen as a mountain cop by rope-ducking skiers and collision-prone snowboarders.

Working at ski resorts means getting what many students came to the U for in the first place — getting an education while being able to afford living and playing in an amazing part of the country.

[email protected]

Eric Williams

Ski patrollers at Sundance Mountain ?Resort enjoy their time at the office.