The life of a ski rep is arguably the best life on the mountain.
As a ski rep, my main responsibility was to be ‘the face of the company.’ This basically means interacting with guests. My job was talking. It started when guests arrived at the airport and finished when they were dropped off. At which point a new load of guests would be picked up and the cycle went all over again. It wasn’t all easy, but in summary, I got more ski time and easier ‘work’ than anyone else. Except on Sundays.
Admittedly, the first two weeks were hell. We were working in a hotel that held around 200 guests and had to set-up all of the resort information, meet the suppliers, and generally make sure that everything worked. This meant long days of sitting in a tiny office for over 12 hours staring blankly at a computer screen and writing about things that we didn’t know about. ‘We,’ is the other ski reps. There were three of us. At this time, I started to wonder if I had made the right choice in doing this job. Whenever anything needed to be done, the ski reps were the ones to call. If supplies had to be picked up from down the mountain, we were the ones who would drive the car. In the end, this became a blessing because it meant time off the mountain. I do love the mountain, but little breaks away from it are nice.
Typically to be a ski rep, you need to speak the language of the country that you are working in and be able to ski. My French is severely limited and I had only skied once in my life. It was quite amazing that I was taken on at all. At the time of interview, I was told that it was a special exception that I was being employed and I would be given three weeks to learn to ski. During this time, I would have to practice skiing all day and not go snowboarding because it was company policy that ski hosts skied, not boarded. It was a ski company after all. I had three days of practising before I was told that I was good enough to take guests out. I wasn’t and I didn’t know the mountain, but I did it anyway. I fell five times in my first two weeks of ski hosting, then I never fell again whilst hosting. Three falls were only minor slides which I jumped up from. One was a misjudged stop upon a ledge in heavy fog, resulting in a dramatic slide and tumble down the steep slope. The other was the skiers nightmare; both skis off, poles flailing, and me sprawling face first down the mountain with my hair filled with snow. A guest from my group picked my skis up for me. I bet he thought I was a fantastically reliable ski guide.
The first time I skied, I went down the slope with one of my fellow ski hosts. She was an experienced skier and and I had only skied once, six years before. Trying to impress, I pointed my skis down the mogul field and I went. I went and I didn’t stop and my knees nearly connected with my teeth but I didn’t fall over. I don’t know how I didn’t fall over, but I got down that slope quicker than most people ever could. The pounding hurt my body but I was proud of how quickly I did it.
I waited a couple of minutes to be greeted by angry declarations of my madness and dangerous skiing. It was fully justified; I was way out of control. Couple this with the fact that I had turned up an hour late after oversleeping, I hadn’t made a great first impression. I overslept on Christmas day too. I was two hours late for work and got threatened to be sacked. I went out skiing with guests and it was a complete whiteout resulting in one of the guests falling and hurting themselves. It was a bad Christmas. Other than this, my life was great.
My saving grace and achilles heel to my lack of ski technique, was my lack of fear, meaning that I could still get down the mountain faster than my guests who had been skiing all their life. Other people were jealous of my job and when I finally pushed my limits a little too far, there were others who would have been happy to take my job. I fell, and suffered a little broken back injury.
I originally got told it would be a year before I could play sports. High on morpheine and not wanting to believe them, I attempted to discharge myself from the hospital but nobody would take me out. The following day my parents arrived and I attempted to discharge myself once again. At this point I was told that they would call the police if I left the hospital. I have no idea if this is true.
The following day they let me leave and a painful two months followed before I was finally on the slopes again. Doctors didn’t have a clue about how long I should be out for, so I chose the one who said ski when you’re ready. I was definitely ready at that point. Apart from the broken back, which isn’t in the job description (and happened when I was skiing in my free time), being a ski rep was definitely the best job on the mountain. I even learnt a few things by breaking my back.
Typically, my day to day timetable (excluding set-up / close down weeks) went as follows:
Sunday 04h00-22h00. Meet guests at breakfast and help get them onto the right buses. Then get on a bus and go the the airport with them. When they are all gone, help arriving guests and then go on the bus with them back to the resort. On the bus journey, talk over the microphone about the resort and upcoming week (about half an hour) and then go and check that they have all lift passes and ski equipment. If they don’t, sell it to them. Arriving back in resort, process all orders then take guests to the ski shop to get equipment fitted. After this, chat and mingle with the guests, maybe even helping out on reception. The be in attendance of the welcome meeting. When this is finished answer all the questions that guests missed and finally, as they go for dinner, run and get a beer!
Monday 07h30-09h00. Chat and mingle with the guests at breakfast. 09h00-13h00 or 16h00. Take guests skiing as a host then stop for (free) lunch in one of the mountain resorts. If you like the guests, keep skiing with them all afternoon. If you don’t, say thank-you, goodbye, and see you later, then go skiing by yourself. 16h00-21h30. Be around in the hotel to chat with guests and help out where needed. Then go have fun.
Tuesday 07h30-09h00. Chat and mingle with the guests at breakfast. 09h00-13h00 or 16h00. Take guests skiing as a host then stop for (free) lunch in one of the mountain resorts. If you like the guests, keep skiing with them all afternoon. If you don’t, say thank-you, goodbye, and see you later. Then go skiing by yourself. 16h00-18h30. Chat and mingle with guests and help out where needed.
Wednesday 16h00-18h30 0r 18h30-23h00. Talk to people, look after the hotel, and run reception. Only one bar staff and one rep would be working on a Wednesday afternoon; most other staff had days off. Sometimes I could swap with the barman and have a turn at pouring pints.
Thursday 18h30-23h00. Talk to guests until they’ve had dinner. After dinner, run an hour and a half entertainment evening in the form of a music quiz. I ran this routine so many times that I learnt what to say when, and fine tuned my questions and playlists for the audience.
Friday Day off.
Saturday 18h00-21h00. Talk to guests and prepare for transfer day (Sunday).
Repeat and enjoy. Life was filled with blue skies, mountains, skiing, and fun people. If you get a chance to work on the mountain as a ski rep, try it once. You just might like it.