Thanks to our local community!
Our 2023 Summer Community Appreciation Program will include special offers to locals from July 17-20.
Special Offers To Locals Include:
- Complimentary Single Ride Lift Ticket (Elk Chairlift) – by donation (minimum $1). Donations will go to the Elk River Alliance
- 50% Full Day, Twilight or 3 Lap Ticket (Elk Chairlift)
- Complimentary ticket to access to our Uphill Enduro / E-bike route (no lift access included with this ticket)
Offers are valid from July 17-20, 2023
Open to residents of the Elk Valley (Fernie, Elko, Jaffray, Sparwood & Elkford).
Each resident can redeem each special offer one time during the above dates.
Residents must show proof of residency & photo ID.
Please visit Guest Services to pick up your Community Appreciation ticket(s).
Note that waivers will be required as per our usual process for all bike park lift tickets (participants aged 15 & under must have a parent/legal guardian present to sign their waiver).
For more information on our Community Appreciation Program, please contact us at 250-423-2435.
Prepare yourself for the return of Fernie Alpine Resorts’ Snow Dreams, presented by Corona!
Head out on the mountain and enjoy the amazing terrain and snow at Fernie Alpine Resort. After you’ve tackled the slopes, join us for an apres-ski beverage in the Griz Bar with live music from Legendary Snow Dreams DJ – DJ Rocswell
The party continues all night in the legendary Griz Bar, where the most unspeakable of Après activities have been witnessed on more than one occasion as DJ Rocswell will be back spinning tunes.
No cover or entry fees but get there early to avoid the lines!
This is a 19yrs+ party
3pm – 6pm: DJ Rocswell Apres Set @ Griz Bar
8pm: Griz Bar Doors Open for Evening Party
9pm-Midnight: DJ Rocswell Main Set @ Griz Bar
**UPDATE: We are extending the Silk Trail Slide another week and it will now run until February 12th**
Note: Feb 3rd: There currently is a moose hanging out the multi-use trails (most recently on the Manchuria section). The moose has been charging dogs so please do not cross-country ski, snowshoe or fat bike with your dogs on the multi-use trails at this time. Check our snow report for additional updates. We are extending the Silk Trail Slide event another week to allow the moose space and time to move on.
We are happy to bring you the Raging Elk Silk Trail Slide – a virtual Nordic Ski event with something for everyone. Come out at a time that suits you, choose a distance, and score an awesome medal created by Wild Wolve Designs and some great prizes from our sponsors!
The event runs from January 28th through February 5th, 2023
4km * 9km * 13km * 18km
How do I participate in the Silk Trail Slide event?
- REGISTER for the event
- Registration is $15 (including tax)
- The online registration link is posted below
- **PLEASE READ PRIOR TO REGISTERING**
- RCR Event Release Agreements are required to be completed during the registration process. Once you have filled out your information you will see a RELEASE AGREEMENTS section. Click the red “Click for Event Agreement” button to fill out the agreement.
- Competitors 16yrs and older need to complete one waiver, the Event Release Agreement – the competitor can do the Event Release Agreement themselves.
- Competitors 15yrs and younger need to have their parent or legal guardian complete two waivers – the Event Release Agreement AND the Parental Consent Agreement. So your parents/legal guardian must register you.
- Note: In section 3 of the Release Agreement section, there is a typo – the wording should say Event instead of Ski School; it should say, “Payment for the EVENT will not be processed until the Parent/Guardian completes the Release Agreements.”
- Once the agreement is complete, it will auto-fill the Agreement IDs into the registration form.
- Once the agreement(s) are complete and codes autofilled you can complete your registration by “adding to cart” which will take you to the payment page. If you want to register a second person, you can just click “continue shopping” and it will go back to the registration page to fill in the details for the second person.
- RCR Event Release Agreements are required to be completed during the registration process. Once you have filled out your information you will see a RELEASE AGREEMENTS section. Click the red “Click for Event Agreement” button to fill out the agreement.
- JOIN the Fernie Alpine Resort club on Strava.
- Here you can check out the four routes on offer https://www.strava.com/clubs/FARevents
- Or look at the routes below
- COMPLETE one (or more) of the event segments
- Track your results and post on Strava.
- If you don’t have Strava you can track your results on any other GPS program/app.
- COLLECT your finishers medal and enter the prize draws
- Once you have completed your segment, go into Guest Services located in the main plaza.
- Show your registration confirmation email & your Strava results to receive your finishers medal – everyone who finishes receives the medal!
- When you pick up your medal, you will get a draw prize form to fill out which will enter you into our prize draws.
How to Use Strava for the Event:
- Join the Fernie Alpine Resort Strava club (link above)
- To find the four routes for the Silk Trail Slide, look for the ‘Events’ on the Fernie Alpine Resort club page on Strava.
- Each Route Length is set as a different event – click on the event with the route length you want to complete
- Once in the event, if you click on ‘view the route’ from the event, you have an option on the bottom left of the screen to “use route.” This will automatically take you to the recording feature with the route marked out. This makes it easy to follow the correct route.
- Make sure you start and end your Strava at the start of the route – end of Double Creek, the start of Silk Trails (look for the sign). Once complete, please add to your activity comments/description if you were doing the route on Classic or Skate skis.
We will be using the Strava Segments listed on each Strava event as our leaderboards. Make sure you include whether you were Skate Skiing or Classic Cross Country in your activity comments.
Don’t have Stava? You can still participate. The routes are posted below, and you can export a gpx or tcx file for use in other programs or devices. Track your route on your own device and then simply show proof that you have completed the route to Guest Services (show device, screenshot of the activity etc.) to collect your medal and be entered into the prize draw.
Race routes use a combination of the Manchuria, Scandia Loop, and Silk Trails – you can find our Trail Map here: https://skifernie.com/img/2018-19-FAR-Winter-Multi-Use-Trail-Maps-SFS-Dec-2018.pdf
All routes start at the beginning of the wide-open intersection where the Manchuria/Silk Trail starts, and the Double Creek trail ends. Keep an eye out for the event signage.
Here is a description of the trails used in each distance, along with the Strava GPS map of the routes.
**There are multiple signs placed along the trails for directions based on desired distance to complete. The colors are indicated below, next to the distances.
4km (GREEN DIRECTIONS) – One loop taking Manchuria to Silk Trail
9km (BLUE DIRECTIONS) – One loop taking Manchuria to upper Scandia Loop to lower Scandia loop to Silk Trail.
13km (RED DIRECTIONS) – Do the 9km loop above; when you get to the end of Silk Trail, turn left and then do the 4km loop (take Manchuria to Silk Trail Loop).
18km (BLACK DIRECTIONS) – Do the 9km route above twice (Manchuria to upper Scandia Loop to lower Scandia Loop to Silk Trail. When you get to the end of Silk Trail, turn left and onto Manchuria and do the same loop again). https://www.strava.com/clubs/710552/group_events/1118711
How do you win prizes?
Everyone who registers and completes a distance will enter our prize draw. Winners will be selected by random draw once the event is complete. The emphasis of the event is to get out, get active and have fun, so the majority of the prizes will be given away via this random prize draw as it is hard to make this a truly fair competitive event (we know snow conditions will vary throughout the competition window giving advantages some days over others). We want to create a small incentive for those participants that are more competitive, and the top times from each leaderboard (and category) in each distance will be entered into a bonus leaders prize draw.
What if I want to do more than one distance?
Participants can do more than one distance. You don’t have to register again if you want to do more than one distance (please note you will only get one finisher medal, though). But for every distance you complete, you get entered into the prize draw. For example – you want to complete both the 4km and 9km distances. You need to register once and can do both distances. After completing your first distance, you can get your finisher medal and draw prize entry. For the second distance, you can come into Guest Services and get a second entry into the draw prize pool (but not a second medal). You can do the distances over different days (you don’t have to do the event all on one day), which is why we have a long competition window. Since the point of the event is to get out and enjoy our nordic trails, we encourage you to do more than one distance over the time frame.
Who says you need to spend an arm and a leg to be comfortable? Raging Elk Adventure Lodging believes that finding suitable accommodation with great amenities shouldn’t be a budget breaker. With a variety of affordable room options, including Private Rooms, Shared Rooms, Family Rooms, and our brand-new Deluxe Pods, you’ll find a comfortable, clean, and secure place to stay that suits your needs at a price point you’ll love.
Visit their website for more information – https://ragingelk.com/.
Thanks to our black diamond sponsor, Evolution FernieAt Evolution, you’ll find a welcoming, positive environment with endless opportunities to play, challenge yourself and pursue your personal fitness goals! Walking into our facility, you will instantly discover a modern, contemporary health club that emphasizes quality, cleanliness and comfort in a relaxed yet energetic environment. You will feel right at home as our community familiarity and friendliness makes everyone feel welcome.
How does mentorship play a role in professional development on the mountain?
Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Western Canada. With the elite terrain and large snowfall comes huge responsibilities for ski patrollers. Besides getting to ski powder while the rest of us wait with nervous anticipation for the lifts to open or the rope to drop—they are carrying the mental (and physical!) weight of keeping the mountain safe for everyone and often dealing with multiple incidents on top of heavy snowfall and tricky avalanche conditions. It requires an incredible amount of teamwork, compassion, strength, and mental fortitude.
But how do you succeed as a professional ski patroller, and what challenges are there for women in these roles? Data shows that only 23% of pro patrollers are women today.
I sat down with a few Fernie Alpine Resort legends to learn more about how mentorship has factored into the success of past, present, and future female professional ski patrollers.
Sue Boyd is a local Fernie legend. She started her career as a professional ski patroller in Blackcomb back in 1985, where she was one of six women on the roster. When Sue was hired at Fernie Snow Valley in 1990, she was the only female professional ski patroller until 1996. (Sue notes that she was not the first female professional ski patroller—there was another woman there in the early 80s). One of the claims to fame that Sue does have: she was the first female Ski Patrol Leader at Fernie Alpine Resort from 2002 to 2005.
Sue has a long list of achievements that go well beyond her role as a Patrol Leader in Fernie. She was a Canadian Freestyle Ski Team member and competed in moguls, aerials, and ski ballet at the World Cup Level. As a CARDA dog handler, she has trained and certified three avalanche rescue dogs throughout her career. She’s taught Non-stop ski patrol training courses and AST courses. She worked at Island Lake Lodge for eight years as a tail guide and snow safety and explosives trainer. And if that isn’t cool enough, she also has led backcountry horse trips in the mountains around Canada.
Sue credits her success in her career on snow to being a good listener, someone who pays close attention and asks meaningful questions. She also says having something in common with the person you are learning from helps.
When I asked Sue if she’s ever had the chance to mentor someone else, she highlighted that her success and experiences in the mountains mirror many life lessons we tend to learn over time. Meaning? It’s all about just getting along with folks. “I didn’t think of it as ‘I’m the mentor, you’re the mentee,’ it just happened. If someone wanted to learn from me, and I felt accepted as being able to teach them, and we got on well, I would share my knowledge and experience. Personalities are a big part of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There has to be mutual respect at both ends.”
I asked Fernie Alpine Resort’s current ski patrol director, Tyler Steen, about Sue: “Sue was definitely a mentor to me. [She] has a level of professionalism that no one can mimic.” I asked for specifics with regard to how he defines professionalism in the ski patrol sense, and Tyler said, “Sue treated everyone the same way: She always looked at the uniform and not the person in the uniform. Even when she wasn’t actively mentoring, it would be visual. Sue always acted with the skill, talent and confidence everyone admired. I took every opportunity to observe and learn as she performed the job efficiently and effectively. She was a true professional ski patroller that we were lucky to have.”
This underscores the fact that there needs to be mutual respect for a mentor-mentee relationship to blossom. Tyler added, “this idea of a formal mentorship program for ski patrollers isn’t as straightforward as you would think. You can’t pair a Level 4 patroller with a Level 1 [patroller] just because it makes sense on paper. The person who’s learning needs to be willing to accept the knowledge being shared.”
Zooming forward from Sue’s reign on FAR patrol, I also had the chance to catch up with Olivia Johnson, a Senior First Aid Officer on professional ski patrol with Fernie.
Olivia, affectionately known as “OJ”, has been on Fernie’s professional patrol squad for six seasons. “When I first started on patrol, there was still a ‘macho culture’ among the women on patrol. I wanted to do everything I could to break down that thinking. I always felt like I had to prove that I was better than the other women I worked with, or that I was a better skier, or better at this, or better at that. Thankfully there has been a big culture shift in the last six years. I work with some fantastic women who don’t need to compete with other women because of their gender. I also work with some fantastic men that fully understand that women are just as capable (if not more capable) than them and let us feel heard. The barriers are breaking down, and it feels great.”
Tyler says this inclusive attitude is something he and the Assistant Patrol Director, Megan Kelly, actively cultivate. “We have created a mentorship culture that encourages people to actively seek out that mentorship from whoever and wherever they can get that from. If we’re doing it right, anyone can participate. Our main job is to give the individual the opportunity to succeed, and it’s up to them to take advantage of it.”
Sue might have been the first female lead patroller at Fernie Alpine Resort, but it’s clear that the team invests in gender diversity through its “hands-off’ mentorship approach that encourages the ‘whole’ person to show up for the job and be willing to work hard on a team with a positive attitude and curiosity for learning. It’s exciting for Fernie to have more women in leadership positions and cultivate an atmosphere that elevates that as a norm and not an exception.
This weekend Fernie Ski Patrol will be hosting a recruitment day for interested future patrollers to learn more about what the job entails and what it’s like to work on mountain safety, first aid, and avalanche safety as a professional ski patroller. Tyler Steen says there are already nine women signed up, and of the 44 current professional ski patrollers at Fernie Alpine Resort, 14 identify as female.
With this in mind, being a good, professional ski patroller is not about being the raddest skier on the mountain. Some of the challenges we face today with regard to inclusion in this career can be solved by limiting our biases and being open and willing to learn, ask questions, and treat each other with respect and as equals.
This weekend Fernie Alpine Resort is celebrating International Women’s Day with SheJumps! You can play the online Get the Girls Out! game all weekend (Friday – Sunday) and meet up for in-person activities on Sunday, March 6 at the Elk Base.
SheJumps Get the Girls Out! is a national campaign to unite women as they support, challenge, mentor, and inspire each other in the outdoor sports world.
Due to COVID precautions, our 2022 event will follow a hybrid model using a virtual scavenger hunt through the Goosechase app and a few on-hill games at Fernie! This gives participants the flexibility to engage with the SheJumps community at the level at which they are comfortable.
Beginning on Friday, March 4, 2022, participants can begin playing the Get the Girls Out! event using the Goosechase app on their phone. Registration for the event is free, and you’re connecting with people from around the world and also your local community. Win points by completing the missions. Then, meet up with SheJumps co-founder and executive director, Claire Smallwood, on Sunday at the Elk Base to participate in some on-hill challenges at Fernie Alpine Resort. The virtual game is live until Sunday, March 6, 2022, at 7 p.m. MST.
Golden Girafficorn Hunt – find the golden ‘girafficorns’ on the mountain and bring it back to the booth to be entered to win a prize!
- Photo challenges – Snag a picture with your shred buddies and upload it to social media tagging @shejumps and @ferniealpineresort, we’ll choose a winner at the end of the day!
Can’t make it to the ski hill? No worries! Using a mobile app, participants complete outdoor-themed missions to earn points and receive prizes from SheJumps partners. The Goosechase challenges feature 150 activities to complete and earn points. From nature breakdancing to drawing SheJumps’ signature Girafficorn to outdoor safety and preparation challenges, Get The Girls Out! gives women and girls an accessible way to enjoy time outside.
Get the Girls Out! and International Women’s Day reminds us that we can build a world where difference is valued and celebrated, and a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Getting outside is an easy and fun way to celebrate the power of community and the importance of outdoor play.
Read more about the event at Fernie Alpine Resort here.
Questions? Contact SheJumps [email protected]
Live music is back, and we are thrilled to have the Mountain Pop-up Tour coming to town on March 26.
Shred Kelly, Megan Nash Music, and Max Thomson will hit the stage between 2 pm and 5 pm.
This is a free, all-ages show. Proof of vaccination is required for ages 12+
Beer Garden, dancing and live music – let’s go!
Thanks to Corona for their support in bringing fun times to Fernie.
Huge shout out to The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR), On The Road Management and Productions, FestivalSeekers and PB Pro audio & lighting for getting live music back into our lives.
WORK HERE. PLAY HERE.
Fernie Alpine Resort will be at the Kootenay Virtual Career & Education Event on Tuesday, September 7th. Pre-register today to meet your potential next employer!
Fernie Alpine Resort is hiring for Winter 2021/22:
- Line Cooks
- Prep Cooks
- Breakfast Cooks
- Hotel Housekeeping
- Shuttle Drivers
- Resort Janitors
- Lift Operators
- …and more!!!
Register now at https://events.blackpress.ca/kootenays/
During this summer’s first heatwave, it was extremely challenging to find things to do with the kids. With a Park Pass at Fernie Alpine Resort, and it being community week, I decided on an exciting, lift-access hiking adventure… I mean, how could they say no to a ride up, and a hike (downhill!) to the base?
Let’s be realistic, they said no. They are eight and six years of age, and pretty much immediately say no to anything we suggest! But somehow, I managed to entice them (somehow meaning the promise of a slushie upon completion) and off we went.
Armed with snacks, drinks, caps and sunscreen, we were well-prepared for the experience ahead. Even with the hot temperatures, the lift ride was comfortable and very entertaining. Examining the terrain below, remembering the names of the runs we skied just months prior, and noticing how many of the bike trails are the tree trails we enjoy so much in winter. Discussing whether they would be keen to try them on a bike one day. Watching the DH bikers head down at full speed, feeling both fully impressed and a tad anxious. “That looks scary!” although I catch a bit of curiosity in their eyes.
As we reach the top, the girls chat about the hike – Daisy Lane. The name is everything and they’re ready to explore. Exiting the lift, we follow the signs and easily find our way. It’s nearing the end of the day, so it’s like we have the mountain to ourselves. We can hear the bees buzzing and the birds chirping as we begin our descent under the Bear chair. After awhile, the girls recognize that unique feeling in their quads… the jiggly ‘walking down steep terrain’ feeling. I tell them, “it’s just making your legs stronger!” and they take it in stride.
We connect a few trails and get some relief from the sunshine, and the conversation jumps from there’s Fernie to how much longer to which flavour of slush we should get. As the base comes into view, we decide on a detour to hit the kids’ aerial park – perfectly situated in the shade of the beautiful cedar trees. They so wish they could go onto the ‘real’ aerial park, but know they need to grow a bit before they’re allowed, “it’s something to look forward to!” We look up to the platforms and ladders floating in the sky.
At long last, we reach the car. Our legs are covered in dust, we have a sweaty glow, and a cold and sweet slush has never tasted better. Next time, we’re keen on one of the hikes at the top of the Elk Chair. They’ve got their eyes set on taking the lift down… and another slush, of course.
For details on all hiking opportunities at Fernie Alpine Resort, visit their site which also includes a map!
Last year, when the pandemic hit and my two girls were suddenly home I felt a heavy responsibility to keep them active physically and mentally, on top of staying safe. Where better to take the learning than outdoors? Each week, I would shake things up by heading somewhere new and inspiring. Reading circle at Silver Springs. Science class in the Old Growth or at Matheson Falls. Gym class at the Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) Aerial Park. Many of our ‘classrooms’ I hadn’t been to in years, and some never! They were shocked, ‘but you grew up here!?’
Now, it’s been two years since we’ve left the beautiful bubble of the Kootenays. Two years! And while I am extremely fond of this area, it has begun to feel a little too… comfy. As an avid biker, I was feeling uninspired. Yes, we’ve done a couple of trips to the West Kootenays, but here I had ridden nearly every inch of trail countless times some in both directions. It made me think back to that time, at the beginning of the pandemic. How could I shake things up?
Years ago, before I had kids I spent a lot of time training for bike events and hit a similar wall. A park pass at FAR not only helped me to gain additional confidence on the downhill, it exposed me to new, technical terrain and had me excited about biking again. ‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘There are over 30 trails over there!’ And I headed to Guest Services to get my pass.
Pass in hand, I went out on my first adventure. I decided to check out the newly established Uphill Enduro Route as I had yet to try it. Taking you up the access route, it is a bit painful to cross beneath the Elk Chair and the relaxed lift riders, but it is quick, to the point, and allows you to do a few laps while also testing your endurance.
For the first lap, I decided on Hollow Tree. I have ridden this trail numerous times as it was in two TransRockies events hosted at the hill. Forested, loamy, rooty, optional stunts. It is always a blast and over too soon. I hopped onto Monorail to finish off and got right into my second climb. Next, I decided to take upper Top Gun and then climb over to Bin Logdin to lower Rumplestumpskin. Again, extremely fun and I could have handled twice the length! This lap was flowier, fast and exciting… and had me easily convinced to head up again. This time, I decided on Will Power. We hosted Tears and Gears at FAR two years ago so I had only ever been on it to flag the course. Wow, it had me on my toes and it was nice to feel challenged. Similar to Hollow Tree but more narrow and steeper in sections.
Feeling inspired and fulfilled, I left wanting more. Next week, hiking with the kids. Chair lift up, hike down… should be easy, right?
- The Uphill Enduro Route is exposed and the last portion steep. Make sure to bring enough water to keep you going, consider electrolytes on hot days.
- While getting your pass, ask Guest Services about their Multi-Use Pass for just $5, which covers access annually to xc trails on their property.
- If biking in town, make sure to get your Fernie Trails Alliance – Fernie Trails Pass which supports building, maintaining and developing the Fernie Trail Network.
- Carve out some time for a rewarding post-ride refreshment at Legends – you deserve it!
If you grew up skiing on tall, imposing mountains where sliding the upper reaches was your childhood dream, there was likely no more a mystical a character to you than the ski patroller. Effortlessly moving through the wildest terrain, rescuing anyone who gets in over their head, and safely bringing down avalanches, the ski patroller is the apex beast of the mountain hierarchy. The job is one of prestige, skill, and authority. It also used to exclusively be the dominion of men, but times have changed. At Fernie Alpine Resort, those stalwart soldiers of the slopes are increasingly women, and they’re some of the strongest and most talented patrollers in the history of the mountain.
We rounded up four of the ladies keeping Fernie Alpine Resort safe this winter so you can know just a few of the folks who’ve got your back out there. Don’t forget to tip your toque.
Megan’s going into her 14th season at Fernie. These days she’s the assistant ski patrol director, but she started at the bottom of the ranks right out of university. Originally from Ottawa, when she was 20 she gave up nursing school and instead entered the Mountain Adventure Skills Training program at College of the Rockies (which has a campus in Fernie), and then graduated through Thompson Rivers University.
“Something like 15 ski patrollers in the last 13 years have come from that program,” she says. “It’s a big feeder for us.”
She was drawn to patrolling by the outdoor environment and the ongoing challenge of it. She loves long ski tours and the dynamic of the backcountry, and those are elements of her work now. She says one of the tricks of being on patrol is managing the seasonality of it, but Megan did so for years by working as a hiking guide in the summer. Other patrollers pair the job with a trade like being a carpenter or electrician, but Megan works year round at the resort now.
“I worked my way up for 10 years,” she says, “through the levels. We have level one, level two, level three, level four, and I kind of got stalled out at level four. Above that, you go into forecasting or management, and I knew I wanted to go the management way. So in about year 10, our patrol director at the time stepped down and I interviewed for assistant director, and got the job.”
One of the other benefits of being a level-four patroller is she can have an avalanche rescue dog now, too. Hers is named Mogul and is a central part of the team. To keep things balanced off slope, Megan also teaches dance classes and volunteers for Search and Rescue. But the number one thing she wants people to know about the job is it’s more than that, it’s actually a life.
At 25, Justine is one of the younger patrollers on the team. But she’s a veteran on skis, having earned her chops racing right underneath FIS level throughout her youth. Because Fernie hires patrollers through ski tryouts, she was top of the recruits list with her standout technical abilities on snow.
“I always knew that I wanted to be on patrol,” she remembers, having grown up in nearby Calgary. “But for a good period of time I put it out of my brain. When I was a kid on the lift there was some old guy that took me up the chair because I couldn’t put the bar down. I said, ‘Being a patroller would be so cool one day, you get to throw dynamite and ski fresh snow.’ He said, ‘Yeah, if you want a career flipping signs it’s for you, but it’s an old boys club and you’ll never throw an explosive.’ And I truly believed that for a very long time.”
That is, until she tried out, made it, and then was absorbed into a community of mentors who gladly helped her get all the certifications. The attitude at Fernie is to hire the right attitude; the rest of the skills can be taught, and Justine’s picked up hers in a hurry.
“I have definitely thrown a lot of explosives,” she says laughing.
It’s not something she thought her degree in biology and statistics would ever lead to, but now her dream job’s got her thinking more about becoming an avalanche forecaster.
Connie was born in Scotland, grew up in New Zealand, where she skied on Mount Ruapehu until she was 12, then her family moved to Vernon, B.C.
“As soon as I was done high school I moved back to New Zealand for a season,” she says, “then Fernie.”
She was 18 at the time. She spent a season teaching skiing, but found it wasn’t for her. So she tried out for patrol, too. With a background in racing and freestyle, her skiing turned heads right away. It’s not surprising given she’d also just finished 9th in North America for her category in the qualifier competitions for the Freeride World Tour (FWT).
Landing a patrol job seemed like just as big a challenge, but she nailed it.
“I always put the patrol at Fernie as idols,” she explains. “It always seemed like a dream job to make avalanches happen and get to ski fresh snow and help people enjoy the mountain.”
After just one season, she’s still blown away at the support she’s found since she made the cut. “Everyone wants you to succeed,” she says excited.
And while she wants to continue competing in FWT qualifier events, she also wants to keep learning on the job, and the two skill sets seem to go really well together.
“I’d say managing emotions and your tiredness is the biggest thing I learned on patrol,” she says. “There were times when I was really tired and had to be able to keep that under control and work through it. Obviously all the avalanche stuff and the science and the shot placement and route finding, too. After that, I found I was able to look at lines differently. A big thing with the FWT is you have to pick your line from the bottom. Now I can find contours or different lines that I wouldn’t have thought of.”
Also originally from Calgary, 28-year-old Olivia started out in nursing school, too, but managed to finish her degree in Montreal before the mountains stole her away from the city.
“I honestly thought when I graduated university I’d move back to Calgary, become a nurse, live the city life weekend-warrior type of thing,” she remembers. “But I have these five crazy uncles on my mom’s side that were volunteer patrollers at Sunshine and Norquay in the ’70s and ’80s. They had the craziest stories ever when I was a kid and it sounded like a hilarious thing to do for a season. I graduated from university, went travelling and did a winter season in Wanaka, New Zealand, and really wanted to come back do a ski-bum year. One season turned into four, and ongoing.”
Along the way she also found her way onto the patrol team, where she says she immediately found her people and her place in the world.
“Most of us could not hold down a nine-to-five office job even if our lives depended on it. We’re all too high energy,” she jokes.
Like Megan, she also works year-round at Fernie, spending her summers in the bike park. Her training as a nurse has helped her adapt to some of the more demanding rigours of the job, but being outside and working with likeminded people is what compels her to stay. She’s also become enthralled with the dynamics of avalanches.
“Now that I’ve been here long enough, I’ve started to do a lot of the Canadian Avalanche Association courses. I’ve fallen in love with the snow science side of the job. It’s pretty cool making avalanches. Watching everyone ski powder all day because you’ve made the resort safe is a pretty awesome feeling. I work with a bunch yahoos, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone I work with is so fun and super welcoming. I feel like I could trust any one of them with my life, which is what you actually have to do.”