SkierFromOhioThis winter I am thinking about joining the park crew at my hill. I was just wondering what it is like and what skills are required. Also I was wondering if you get a lot of time to ski while on the job?
Awesome to hear bro! It's a great job IMO.
There really are no required skills other than at least some minor ability to ride park so that you understand what's going on, and a good work ethic. Everything else is on the job training. If you have construction, landscaping, welding, or heavy equipment skills those can all be applied in some way and help you in the future, but aren't necessary.
The job really depends on the mountain, they're program, the climate, and the people you work with. For instance in some places that get a lot of rain or ice, you're beating that stuff off boxes, chainsawing/auger holes to put in features sometimes. Another place where it's warmer and bluebird all the time, you're fixing features from leaning and doing a lot more repair work to feature take offs etc.
Also every resort has different policies. Some things are the same across the board like putting up signage for the day, inspecting/testing features, fixing anything that needs it, opening the parks, mid day rake, closing park, tear down of signage, end of day rake.
Some places you work park crew and do whatever you want whether the park looks like shit or not. Other places you're out there early and late trying to maintain a high standard of park.
Most places are moving away from the days when you could casually smoke weed and drink beer on the job as long as the work got done. Some places are more laid back than others. Really depends on the mountain you're looking at. Usually can get a good feel for that before you even apply.
As far as skiing time that depends. I've worked places where everyone killed it, we got things done, and we rode ALL the time. Then I've worked places where we built things that IMO were wrong, and spent all day everyday maintaining them and barely rode.
Again ski time can also come down to the climate and the whether at a particular time. IF you're getting dumped with powder, you're going to be moving a lot of snow. If your park is solid ice, it's going to be a bitch putting in features. It really can very a lot just on the day even at one particular mountain.
If you do it just give it your best shot. Hopefully you'll be with a good crew of hard working people. Nothing brings the vibes down faster than lazy people. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try to work hard. Everyone has days where they're just burnt out etc, but give it a solid effort to pull your weight. If you work hard, the park will be dialed, people will be smiling, and it'll be a good time.
Some days are awesome. The parks perfect, the sun is shining and you're lapping with the bros maybe getting some shots. Other times, you're on the mountain at night getting rain/ice/snowed on, freezing cold, your hands hurt, the snow is garbage to work with, nothing seems to be working right, everyones pissed at each other, you need to get that park build ASAP to open up or have a contest and nothing is going right.
There will be days where you think "Why the fuck am I doing this job?" That said I hope there will be far more days where it all makes sense, and you love what you do.
Many people think park crew is an easy job. From the beginning you should know that that's not at all true. It'll save you a rude awakening at the start of the season.
People see everyone sitting down, chilling for a bit, taking some laps and assume that's all they do. What they don't see is all the time at night building the parks, the long mornings moving snow/ maintaining things to get them open, the end of day maintenance and all the projects in the day that might not be in the park that's open. For example you could have a park where nothing is being done other than mid day rake, and a few laps through, meanwhile the whole crew is up in another park setting features, or doing work on the rails/ building new rails.
There's an idea that we drink beer, smoke weed and the park builds itself. While I love the job, and many other park crew with tell you the same, there's a lot of work that sometimes goes unnoticed.
I'm sorry for the length. I always struggle to keep things short but I just wanted to reply as best I could. If you do park crew I really hope you enjoy it. Would recommend working really hard the first season if you want to ever do it again. IT can be a tough job to get and a good reference goes a very long way. IF you have a couple years experience and good references, your chances of getting another job are high. If the only place that you worked let you go or didn't hire you back because you were lazy, not so much.
There's something amazing about working in the park everyday. Slaving over a feature to get that angle, take off height, spacing perfect, and then getting to shred it/ seeing everyone else throw down on something you worked so hard for. It's a feeling I can't describe. Those are the times that make it all worth it. All the shitty days getting rained at, yelling at each other, things going wrong, then you get that sunny day lapping with the crew, and seeing all the smiling faces in the park and it makes every second you spend shoveling, raking, dragging, pushing, pulling, building, features 100% worth it.
I don't think I'll ever work another job again. At least not in the foreseeable future.
If you do it I hope you love it. Best of luck man!!!
PS: If you don't have a definite in, and have the ability to travel a bit I'd recommend trying to apply to a couple different mountains. It can be a tough job to get. Some years full crews will return. IF you apply to a few places you have a far better shot. Once again good luck man!