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Wait… Winter Can’t be Over Yet: Sherman ’19 at Montage Mountain Ski Resort in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Imagine the cold wind on your face as you fly down the mountain, waist deep in snow with a beautiful blue sky over head. Everywhere you look is covered in white and skiing in these conditions feels more like floating than exercise. It would be nice if the east coast ever saw anything near to these conditions on a good year, let alone this one.

My co-op this year has been at Montage Mountain Ski Resort in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It’s a small resort, servicing mostly local skiiers. The attractions here include skiing (of course), tubing, air boarding, the food court and bar within the lodge, and various events held here, such as the cardboard box derby, the downhill dummy race, the torch light parade, and more. If you wanna check out their website it’s pretty cool: I find my work and my joy here as a full time ski instructor.

As an instructor I have a few responsibilities. At the beginning of the season I elected to come in early to set up the teaching areas, and that is where my day begins. I get to the mountain just before 8 am, usually enjoying the sunrise from my car on the way there. Once there I set up the fences and flags around the teaching area, an area of about 30 yards by 15 yards, and I make sure the magic carpet lift is working properly. As I’m doing this the other 4-5 full timers filter in to the locker room, where I meet them once I’m done. Usually, I’ll have a few minutes to chat before I have to go upstairs to tech rentals for our customers. I’ll tech skis until 10 am which is our first line-up for lessons. If there’s a lesson, I’ll teach, if not, I’ll tech. At 11 am, I am done teching for the day and I can spend my time how I will until the next lesson line up at 1 pm. In my free time, I’ll either ski, to brush up on my own skiing and teaching ideas, clean up the locker room, help file rental forms, perform maintenance on rental skis, or do other small helpful tasks that keep ski school running smoothly. My shift ends at 3:30 pm, at which point I’ll head home or to get a hot chocolate which another instructor. By far my favorite part of the day is teaching.

I end up teaching both children and adult lessons, but I have to say that I enjoy teaching children more. They tend to have a lot more energy and are very transparent about what they want and need. What I enjoy about teaching is the mindset that accompanies it. The ability to connect with someone to gauge how to teach them, and to gauge what they want to be taught. Honestly a lot of people don’t want to learn to ski to learn to ski, but to have fun. The trick in these cases is how to make people have fun, but then also pick up skiing tips. Although, what I enjoy the most about teaching isn’t the mindset, but seeing how people feel during their accomplishments, or at the end of a lesson.

The biggest trial I’ve faced professionally over this co-op has been an injury. Around two and a half weeks ago, I was skiing at the bottom of a trail when I found that the bottom of my right pant leg was caught on my left ski brake. I found this out in probably about a millisecond, and in the next millisecond I was sliding on the ground. I sprained my knee pretty bad, leaving me unable to ski, and to teach, and to fulfill the primary purpose of my job.

I  still find it strange that this happened. I use the same pair of skis and snow pants everyday.

Thankfully, the director of ski school was very understanding, and after two days off kept me on the full time schedule to work rentals and assist with other small office tasks, with the hope that I will be able to return to skiing before the end of the season. Yesterday would have been my first day back on skis, if not for this past weekend.

This whole season the weather has been crazy. From the beginning we would have 5 or 6 days of good, cold, normal winter temps, and then we’d have a few 40 degree weather days. That coupled with barely any snowfall (our big storm this year was 6 inches), has made a disaster for snowmaking. The mountain would be covered for a few days, and then it would all melt. This past week the whole of the east coast had record breaking heat temps, the area I’m in reaching 70 degrees. And then there was the storm.

This past Saturday our area was hit with a massive thunderstorm and tornado. No one was injured as far as I know but there was quite a bit of damage done in select areas, including Montage Mountain Resort. The resort has been shut down for this whole week while they repair the damage done. Here is a news article with some photographs:

Its pretty strange for this to happen. This is the first tornado ever recorded for our area in February.

Sometimes some pretty crazy things happen, and the only thing we can do is handle them as they come. We can always hope for the best conditions possible, and we should always strive to find them, but sometimes you have to ski a little crud.

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Katie Sherman is an undergraduate student at Antioch College. She intends to pursue a degree in environmental science.

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