Ski Resort is a Year-Round Operation

October 27, 2010

With this week’s turn of the calendar, it is now the time to start looking ahead to the cold weather season. Of course with Thanksgiving just over three weeks away, the holidays are the first thing that comes to mind for many of us, but for others November signifies the start of the winter sports season.

Most ski resorts throughout the northeast are in the final stages of preparing for the upcoming ski season so that the resorts can open for skiers and snowboarders as soon as the weather turns cold. While operating an outdoor ski facility – especially here in Connecticut – may seem like a seasonal operation, the fact of the matter is just the opposite. After all, once the ski season is over and the warm weather sets in you might not think about what goes on at a ski resort during the offseason.

For the good people at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, preparing from one season to the next is a year round operation. According to Robert Switzgable, President of Ski Sundown, the mindset is one in which you are constantly thinking about next year. The facility employs ten full time workers whose jobs it is to ensure that everything is ready to go so that the mountain can open, if weather permits, right after Thanksgiving.

It all begins in the spring when staff meets to evaluate the past season and determine what the facility needs to improve their operations for the next and what investments should be made. From there they go into action, making improvements to buildings and purchasing new equipment and maintaining the lifts so that they are fully operational when it is time to open.

Because the weather and temperatures in our region have a tendency to fluctuate, even during the cold weather months of January and February, places like Ski Sundown rely heavily on snow making equipment. The efficiency of this equipment has gotten much better over the years. One of the biggest jobs each year is to determine what improvements need to be made to the guns and compressors and whether or not such equipment needs to be maintained or new apparatus purchased.

Another important responsibility of the off-season preparation is to ensure that the facility is properly staffed once the ski season begins. Ski Sundown employs up to 350 seasonal workers, from instructors to wait staff to lift operators. One of the ways in which they recruit new hires is through an annual job fair. Held in early October, the fair takes in hundreds of applications and gives people an opportunity to find work for the season.

One of the biggest events of the offseason is the annual “Ski Swap.” Being held this coming weekend, Nov. 5th, 6th and 7th, at the facility, the Ski Swap brings in people and vendors from all over the region looking to sell new and used ski and snowboard equipment and clothing. It is open to the public and a portion of the proceeds go to fund Ski Sundown’s Ski Patrol. If you have such items that you wish to sell and are in good condition it is a great way to get rid of them with a portion of the sales going to a very good cause.

But skiing and snowboarding are not the only things that go on at Ski Sundown. In fact, the facility is also host to a number of weddings and corporate meetings throughout the year. In addition, the mountain is open to the public for passive recreation such as hiking. In fact, part of the mountain is leased from the Canton Conservation Land Trust, which encourages hiking on this property.

There are a lot of different things and going on at the Ski Sundown throughout the year and it is all right in our own back yard. For more information about the facility, seasonal employment opportunities or the ski patrol’s “Ski Swap” go to Happy skiing everyone!!!