Conversation with … Sean Daniel, Winter Park Resort cat operator
November 18, 2008
Slope department workers at Winter Park Resort are hard at work making and grooming snow for Wednesday’s opening.
On Monday, Park Cat Operator Sean Daniel (aka Nordberg Dugelsford, according to his boss) took a short break to share with readers a little a bit about the life of one of Winter Park’s terrain sculptors. For the 2007-08 season, Colorado Ski Country USA awarded Daniels “Terrain Master of the Year” for his work on building and maintaining terrain parks on the mountain.
Daniels was among four awards recipients. Also honored were Slope Groomer of the Year Doug Trostel, Technician of the Year Tim Crouse and Safety Award of the Year to the Vehicle Maintenance Department.
According to Daniels, building and grooming terrain parks starts in full late November, into December and January. The crew maintains the features throughout the winter and spring.
Do you help design the terrain parks?
It’s a cooperative effort between the Park people and the guys in the Cats.
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Since we’re pushing the snow, we inadvertently have a way of helping out with design. Sometimes we get together and we draw something out, but most of the time those guys down in the office do that, and they bring their ideas to us, and we try to implement them into the terrain.
How long have you worked here?
At Winter Park, this will be my sixth year.
And what experience do you have from before in the ski industry?
I started in the ski industry in the late ’80s. Berthoud Pass was where I started my career.
What did you do there?
I taught skiing and snowboarding. In the summers, worked in the lift department.
When the ski area closed at Berthoud in ’92, I turned screws at a ski shop here in town. And I delivered pizzas and split wood and delivered wood … whatever it took.
And then Berthoud opened up again in ’97. I spent the first few years (of Berthoud, from ’95) rebuilding the lodge and all the lifts again, getting it ready to roll. That’s when I started driving Cats, actually. We decided we were going to have a terrain park at Berthoud Pass … well, we certainly tried.
How long have you lived in Grand County?
Twenty years. I lived at Berthoud Pass for six years. I was the “Lodge Beast.”
How did you live at the lodge?
I got lucky, really. I had grown up skiing there, and I was always friends with the owners. It was always a life-long ambition to live at the Pass.
In ’95 when I started working up there, for the new owners, I just asked them if it was possible I could live there in exchange for work. Realistically they needed someone there to protect their investment.
And now you live in Doc Souse’s house?
Yes, that’s my house, I own it.
The fact that she owned it is pretty cool.
Has it been altered a lot since she owned it?
Just with the addition of electricity and water. (laugh)
Otherwise it’s pretty much the same house, it really is.
When do you start building terrain-park features?
You can’t see it now (pointing out the back of the Snow Cat cab) but earlier this afternoon, we built a big picnic-table slide and some other slides that will be there for opening day. The slides are a temporary setting on the left side of Parkway, but it’s something for kids and people to do.
The real push is going to be starting next week. It all depends on cold temperatures, especially this time of the year.
So do you rock out in here when you’re grooming?
Absolutely, yeah. XM. Actually my favorite stuff to listen to is the old-time radio programs on 164 like Bonanza.
I’m serious, Lone Ranger, Batman. It’s great to have that stuff.