Winter Park ski and snowboard instructors bid town, each other farewell at season’s end
April 15, 2008
Winter Park ski instructor Keir Garmet-Lawson packed his bags and said goodbye to friends he will leave today as he heads back to London.
Garmet-Lawson, 23, is one of the many seasonal workers who are on their way out of town with the start of mud season.
“I have to go back to reality,” he said. “I’m going to miss all the good friends we made here. I’m looking forward to this summer. I haven’t had a summer in a year and a half.”
He has skied since he was 3-years-old, and this was his first season at Winter Park.
This also was the first season at the resort for snowboard instructor Sam Smith, 21, of Newcastle, England.
“It’s nice and busy on the weekends, and midweek it’s quiet so we get to ride a lot,” Smith said. “Everyone’s cool. Everyone’s in the same position doing similar things … It’s a good lifestyle.
“A lot of people sit in their office all day and they don’t enjoy it,” he added. “We’re having fun everyday meeting new people. The only thing you have to worry about is if you have enough money to buy beers.
“It sounds like we’re just messing around having fun. But it’s actually a really responsible job,” he said. “We keep kids alive on the mountain, ya? We all have done a lot of training to get these jobs.”
Things are less expensive in the United States, he said. One pound in England is equivalent to about two American dollars.
“We don’t take money home with us,” Smith said. “We might as well buy something and sell it back home.”
Smith went to school for a term at Leeds University in England and started teaching at the same time. At age 19, he decided to keep teaching and finish school later.
The instructors’ visas run from Nov. 1 to May 1.
It’s hard for Smith to leave the area because it has been his home for the last six months.
“You make friends for a season, and then some of them you never see again,” he said.
He is headed to Hull, England, to work as an activity manager for a summer school. He said he is excited to reunite family and friends in England.
This is the third season of snowboard instructing at Winter Park for Dave Penman, 22, of Scotland.
“It’s just been great fun,” he said. “I’ve just done heaps of riding. I ride everywhere, in the parks, in the trees, in the bumps. Whatever I feel like that day … The weather here is always good. We always get loads of snow. It’s a really good town and atmosphere.”
He enjoys teaching children how to snowboard, he said.
“Boarding’s always hard for the little ones, especially 8-years-old and younger, due to lack of muscle development,” Penman said.
“But all they need to do is stick with it, get past the first day of falling over ” and they’ll love it.
He is excited to go back to Scotland.
“It will be nice to go home and see the family and all the friends, and then get out of England again as soon as possible.”
After returning to Scotland, Penman plans to travel to New Zealand, and “do it all over again.”
He says he will return to Winter Park next year.
This was the first season Nick Keetch, 24, of London, England, was a snowboard instructor.
He took a year off in between high school and university. When he was 19, he spent a season in Canada and received a Canadian snowboard instructors qualification.
He graduated from the University of Sussex with a bachelor of arts in American literature. He also attended the University of Colorado in Boulder for a year.
“I didn’t want to enter the round of reality, so I ran away to the mountains,” Keetch said. “I don’t know if I take (my job) as seriously as some other people. For me it’s more of a stopgap, something to fill my youth with ” instead of working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The problem is that this job doesn’t offer financial stability and that there’s an ever-present guilt of not entering into the normal system of a regular job,” he added. “I don’t worry about the future ” I’d rather live for the present.
“(My parents) pretend to be cool about it. But they believe in the middle class expectancy of having a proper job by the age that I am.
He said he is sad to leave the resort.
“It has a really nice communal feel to it. Everybody knows everybody,” Keetch said.
“I’m not chasing the winter like other people. I have to go home and get a job and make some money.”