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Sunshine: Awesome area, plenty of snow, super sick park, open longest out of any area around, plenty of terrain, including freeride zones for which you need a beacon and rescue gear. Theres also some really sick terrain just out of bounds if you know where to look. Definitely a good place to know people at, but seeing as you'll probably be working there it won't be hard to get some people to show you around. I also know that they have staff lodging, which is pretty sweet. Its a pretty popular resort though, and can get crowded pretty fast. Probably my favorite area within driving distance from calgary.
Louise: About the same size as shine, no freeride zones but really awesome terrain, if you want to ski mountain this would be the place. The park is pretty little compared to sunshine's though. Shorter season than shine by a few weekends, but much farther from anything, including banff. I don't know that much about louise, if you have any questions though, shoot me a pm and I'll see if I can help you out.
Ok, yes you can get staff lodging, but it FUCKING SUCKS BALLS. Live in Banff at the HI.....way better, or find a place of your own before you get out here. Check out the Banff Craig and Canyon news paper for better ideas.
If your going to work at the shine.....you have to be in Outside Ops to get any good riding time. Being a cook, or a dish pig may sound like a great idea, but honestly its stupid and sucks ass. You could get work work where you ride a few hours a day, or work where you don't ride at all.
Now that being said, depending on how much expearence you have you could work a few places.
If your not that great at skiing, and don't have much expearence lifty is the way to go. Sunshine hires TONS of lifties from your side of the world. They get pretty long ride breaks, and most of the people there will be in the same situation as you.
If you have the certification for it, you can be a Ski instructor. Some people think its cool, and have fun with it, but i think it sucks major. For one there is a high layoff rate. Two, you have to fit the grooming standard. For three, you get paid on a "per lesson" basis. So in other words, no bookings, no money.
Third is Trail Crew. This is a pretty hard bunch to get with. You ride ALOT, but its mostly big mountain. But trail crew and ski patrol always get first tracks on everything. ( even stuff thats closed). Now THEY WORK HARD. There is no crew out there that works as hard as trail crew. Like pounding steel into the ground, lifting 50 lbs fences up steel slopes, running large bundles of bamboo on your back while your skiing down moguls. But you can get TONS of skiing time. Some days they just lift a fence out and ski all day. They also get laid off somewhat early ( late april - early may), and they don't get on-hill staff accom.
Last but not least, where i work ( and of course i think the best work) ......park crew. Now we ski ALOT ( mostly park laps....but there isn't nothing wrong with that, but when we get 10+ cm of snow....well lets just say who wants to ride park on a day like that). But that is not to say we don't work hard. The job is super similar to trail crew. Labour intensive. Lifting rails, and boxes. Digging trenches ( sometimes all day), spraying dye on takeoffs landings ( the pack weighs more then 70 lbs). Building and maintaining features in weather that can depend from - 40 to +10. When the wind, and cold stops the hill we get shuttled up via sled and work through it. Plus we are a hard bunch to get along with. If your not weird, or don't have a thick skin......you woun't last long. Now this is a job that you can't "just get hired for." I did, but i have been working park for 3 years. But if you ride the park ALOT, and have some expearence in it, then you have a chance.
For hiring look onthe Sunshine website for numbers. Call the mountain and talk to HR. Melanie Wilks is super nice and can help you out with all the specifics.
Hope that helps you out. If you have anymore questions just hit me up.
P.S. work on getting that VISA now. I heard they can be pretty hard to get, and with the recession the way it is.......they are going to start to limit them.
Dude go to Nelson, tiny ass hill but all it does there is snow, upwards of 40cms in a night is not uncommon and its relaxed cause its a small town hill
plus there is Red mountain resort like 45 minutes away
tonnes of great skiing in the Selkirks