I don’t really like talking about myself. It’s not that … I just don’t know what’s interesting to someone else. I’ve done a lot of things in my life but currently my main vocation is that I’m a ski instructor.I fell into that I suppose. I love to ski and I always fantasised that a good thing to be able to do was to make something that was your passion, your vocation. I was at Mt Hotham in 2001. It wasn’t a particularly good season but the week I had chosen in August, probably had the better conditions of that winter.
Hey, any of you guys want a job?
I was standing with a group of guys that I hadn’t met until that week. We were beside the “Afternoon Extreme” lesson sign. I used to like to take lessons, because you got to ski with different people, you could always learn something about skiing and it was fun to challenge yourself.
I was standing there when the ski school director came up to the group and asked, “Hey any of you guys want a job?”
We all looked at each other and laughed because we thought he was joking. But, in the back of my mind, I started thinking about that a little bit, thought about it over dinner, considered it and wondered if he really was serious.
It was kind of like a little test to see if you had what it took to become a ski instructor.
Next thing, I sought him out and asked him. Turns out he was serious. So the very next year I went along to what they call the “hiring clinic”. It was kind of like a little test to see if you had what it took to become a ski instructor – and I did. These days I’m fully certified. I’ve worked in Australia and overseas in America and last year in Japan.
It’s been a very interesting and different sort of vocation I suppose – exciting to some. There is a small element of the mundane in it – but not so much. I don’t get sick of it – that’s the thing. What I’ve found with ski instructing and living in ski resorts is you need to have a comfortable and amenable place to live, when you’re there. Otherwise, everything becomes very tedious and you don’t tend to follow-up on your job very well.
99.9% of the time you are dealing with smiles.
The fact that – yes you’re in a holiday resort – people come to you for help, and you can help them to enjoy themselves. You very, very rarely get any sad faces. 99.9% of the time you are dealing with smiles. Doesn’t matter if they’re an absolute beginner and you just get them going. As soon as they start to enjoy themselves and feel that sensation of being able to slide along on the snow and enjoy a sport that I really enjoy – it absolutely thrills me.
I used to work as a software developer and I very, very rarely had people ring me up and say “Wow, that was a great program you wrote!”
They would usually ring up with complaints that this or that didn’t work. With ski instructing, you’re helping people to improve, you’re helping people to enjoy themselves. It’s actually not as meaningless as some people might think. It does actually mean a lot to people when they enjoy themselves and their holidays and they have a good time. I get the added bonus that I’m there having a good time myself because I love it.
… you’re working with like-minded people, with a passion – they’re all, without a doubt, fantastic people
Once I got into it, I didn’t actually expect to improve as a skier and as a teacher as much as I actually have. The challenges are quite huge in terms of your abilities and the requirements to make a fully certified ski instructor. I will say one of the other things that has been a huge part of living and working in those sorts of environments is the people that you work with. Because you’re working with like-minded people, with a passion – they’re all, without a doubt, fantastic people. You do get a few who are very “I am” types. That trait doesn’t seem to last very long in the industry, and it eventually sorts itself out.
I’d say that most of my close friends these days have been made through the skiing industry whether they’ve been other instructors or just acquaintances and people that you meet up with – almost like you’ve got this extended family I suppose. It’s kind of neat.
When you have been away from skiing for a little bit, you miss it. But at the end of the season, you do need a break. After a winter here in Australia or a winter overseas – by the time you’ve done that – that’s enough for a month or so. You do need a break, you need to rejuvenate your body a little bit and maybe get away from the resort-type of environment, because when you’re living there you can’t get away from it that much. I’m looking forward to the 2016 ski season at Mt Hotham.