Surviving a ski season
So you’ve decided to go on a working holiday and have chosen to do a ski season. Good choice. A season in the snow can be a wonderful experience. However, it’s a long season and there are many pitfalls a ski season newbie can fall into. Luckily for you, I fell into most of these myself, so I’ve put together a list of what to be wary of when doing your first season in the snow.
Broken bones aren’t fun
Within the first week of the season, it’s a common sight to see people gingerly hobbling along, with casts on the legs, arms, or whatever other bone they may have broken. No matter what your skiing or snowboarding ability is, it’s important to remember that it’s a long season, so start slow and re-discover your groove before attempting that new trick or run. A few mountains offer group lessons to staff, so if you’re just starting out, I’d highly recommend getting tips from an expert before venturing out on your own.
Be wary of a mid-season burnout
When first arriving at a ski resort, the first month is generally spent meeting new people and partying excessively. While this is an enjoyable part of the season, you’ll find that if you go too hard too early, by January you’re well and truly spent. Remember to keep in mind that it’s a long season, so there is nothing wrong with spending a few nights in to recover. The last thing you want is to miss out on quality snowboarding or skiing time because you’re spending your weekends in bed with a hangover. If you are planning on drinking, do the responsible thing and get drunk on a work night! It’s pretty much expected to work hungover at a ski resort.
Find good accommodation
With most seasons lasting between 4 and 6 months, it’s vital to find a good place to live for the winter. The last thing you want is to be shacked up with a bunch of smelly ski bums whose idea of cleaning up is washing out their bong (unless that’s your style). Find a resort which offers nice staff and private accommodation and then once you’ve arrived, don’t commit to the first place you see, suss it out and see the inhabitants before putting down a security deposit.
Bring additional funds
The majority of ski resorts pay their workers minimum wage, so if you rock up at the start of the season with the hope that you’re going to live off what you earn, you may be in with a shock. Granted, it’s possible to do, but you won’t have any fun doing it. Have a little extra tucked away for all those incidentals that may occur.
Get a flu shot
It’s the middle of winter and you’re living with a bunch of people. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets the flu and it spreads throughout the house. If you’d rather spend your days snowboarding than shacked up in bed, get a flu shot before the season and make sure to stay as healthy as possible throughout.
Watch out for mountain blues
The thought of being unhappy while living somewhere as beautiful as a ski resort may sound crazy, but it can happen. While you can have a truly amazing time, the combination of working a shitty job, annoying co-workers and having to live in each others pockets can become quite tiresome. Try to keep the experience fresh by getting off the mountain every once and awhile, whether you do a day trip to another resort or go shopping in the city, a day off the mountain will do wonders for your sanity.
While living on a ski hill, it’s almost impossible to escape from the nasty clasp of gossip. To put it simply, you won’t have a private life. Hook up with a nice girl or guy and think it’ll be your little secret? Chances are half the mountain will know about it in the morning. As a general rule, stay clear of participating in it and don’t trust anyone with your secrets. It’s amazing how quickly people’s reputations can be ruined by a few nasty words.
Eat well, exercise often
After 3 ski seasons, I’m fairly certain my insides were rotting. If I could go back and change one thing it, would be my eating and exercising habits. Do yourself a favour and try to keep up a somewhat respectable semblance of health, you’ll thank yourself later.
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