National Ski Patrol
If you could choose a way to combine your passion for skiing while making a real difference in someone's life, would you do it? At least one person has.
For the past 22 years Julie Rust has been a ski patrolman at Vail Mountain in Vail, Colorado. As the Director of Vail Ski Patrol and Mountain Information, Julie has risen to the top of the ranks and is passionate about working with the public and the staff of professionals she has put together over the years.
The thing that motivated me to become a ski patrolman years ago was that it looked like the coolest job that anyone could have. Little did I know until I began working as a patroller how really great this job is.
Patrolling is an adventure - on any given day, you never know what's going to happen from one moment to the next. In addition to administering first aid to guests, we get to help people in a variety of other ways - sometimes, literally saving people's lives.
I oversee approximately 70 full-time professional ski patrollers. We have minimal turnover because people who make this their way of life just end up staying. But, for those who would like to spend a winter patrolling, we offer them a chance to look into what a life on the mountain is like before committing to the job.
During the second week in March, we offer a two-week Ski Patrol Academy that gives candidates a chance to participate in the various aspects of the job. The Academy also gives the staff a chance to evaluate the candidate's skiing skills and tell the candidate how they can improve their chances in competing for one of our openings. During the two week period, applicants patrol with seasoned veterans, administer first aid, ski a toboggan down and help with the sweep at the end of the day. By the time the candidates have finished the Academy, we both have a good idea whether or not they'd be happy as a patrolman.
To land a position on the Vail Ski Patrol, first and foremost the candidate must be a strong skier - not a flashy skier, but someone who can ski just about any run under any conditions. We also look for people who have great customer service skills with a strong emphasis on customer safety. Once they've started with us, we train them in first aid, mountaineering, chair evacuation procedures, avalanche control, etc.