This one’s for our on-mountain super heroes—ski patrollers. Though you may have never needed the assistance of a patroller, chances are you’ve seen them buzzing about the mountain. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a ski patroller at Winter Park, Natalie is here to give you the lowdown.
“Hi, I’m Natalie… I have been ski patrolling now for seven years, and it’s probably the best job anyone could ever have.”
Having been raised in the Fraser Valley herself, Natalie chose to start her own family in the mountains, and embraces skiing not as just a hobby, but a lifestyle.
“I met a ski patroller and started dating and got a peek into the lifestyle and what the job entails. He is now my husband. We got married and I followed that instinct of becoming a patroller.“
And what exactly does the job entail? Lots of skiing, which is a major upside for Natalie:
“I love skiing. It not only gets you outside, but for me it is freedom. You can leave the rest of the world behind. You’re one with nature and you’re a part of the mountains, you’re surrounded by so much beauty.”
“Something that ski patrol has taught me is you can ski it at any age. You can bring your children into it at a very young age, and then you have 80 and 90-year-olds still skiing, and you can ski at your own level. You can charge, or you can just take it easy and just enjoy the greens and the groomers. It’s a lifelong sport.”
There’s more to working on ski patrol than just having a blast on skis, however.
“Not only are you working outside, you’re dealing with all the weather elements. You don’t get the opportunity to just sit inside and say no, tomorrow I’ll ski. We’re skiing every day, no matter what it is. There’s stuff that needs to be done. People need our help. Our job, first and foremost as a patroller, is guest service. And I value that a lot.”
Ever-changing conditions are just one of the many challenges that comes with being a patroller.
“You have to be prepared for everything, and no day is ever the same… That’s a challenge, but it’s also kind of a gift… and in a sense, I appreciate that. It’s pushed me to become a better patroller.”
Stepping out of her comfort zone and striving to be better is always at the top of Natalie’s to-do list.
“I maybe wasn’t very confident, but I go out and do it anyways… It just is such a rewarding feeling that you may have doubted yourself, but then you’re like, ‘Whoa, I did it.’ You kind of pat yourself on the back, thinking, ‘I can do this and next time I’ll feel more confident about it.’”
Not to mention tackling the legendary moguls of Mary Jane day-in and day-out…
“You have to be prepared physically as a ski patroller. Whether that means conquering any line, or having your gear dialed. It’s taking care of your gear and your body.”
In Natalie’s eyes, for every challenge, there seems to be a silver lining, however:
“I love interacting with our community, seeing the smiling faces, helping people… helping someone fall in love with the sport when they’re not sure about it because you gave them great care. At the end of the day, it’s all about giving our public the opportunity to have a bunch of fun.”
Ski Patrol has also pushed Natalie to continually strive for growth both professionally and personally.
“I feel confident in the decisions I make, and that’s something that ski patrol gives you. Sometimes you just have to step up and be a leader and take control.”
And attitude truly is everything, when it comes to being a leader. “No matter what, it’s all about perspective. If you have a good attitude, you can have fun, despite what the elements may be telling you. So I just try to take all that and apply it to my life in general. You make the best of what you’ve got.”
Natalie explained, “My job has helped me become a better person, not only in the workforce, but coming home. I know I’m capable of more… now that I have a daughter that I’m raising, it helps me instill those values in her that she can be capable of doing anything, and she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.”
“I just want her to enjoy life and enjoy the mountains and be grateful for this wonderful place that we get to call home and take advantage of all that it has to offer. And I think if mom and dad show her the way, hopefully she’ll learn to love it, too.”
There’s one thing we know for sure; we’re incredibly thankful for and inspired by Natalie’s dedication and positive outlook. We’ll be doing our best to channel this kind of energy in the coming season:
“I can do more than I think. And if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish it, and I can take that mindset to any part of my life.”