A ski resort is made up of numerous moving parts, all of which are essential when it comes to achieving a smooth and successful operation. You may not think about this when you’re out enjoying yourself on a Saturday afternoon, cruising around the mountain with friends, when nothing else matters but how many runs you can get in before the day’s end. The next time you are up on the mountain, take a minute to really think about all the things that are happening simultaneously at that exact moment to ensure that you are enjoying yourself on the mountain.
Naturally, we tend to hop on the lift, hop off the lift, and go about our day. What’s commonly forgotten is that there is a whole team of employees working diligently to provide you with this experience from start to finish. Lift operators play a vital position on that team. We sat down with the “captain” to get some insight on what really goes into spinning lifts that take us all over the resort. Meredith McCandless-Seymour is the lift manager here at Stratton Mountain and oversees one of, if not our most important moving parts… both literally and figuratively.
What is your current position at Stratton Mountain?
I am the Lift Operations Manager.
How did you get started at Stratton Mountain?
After working inside dark recording studios for 10 years, the most important thing for me was to work outside. I love snowboarding so working at a resort seemed like the perfect option. I was hired as Scanning Supervisor my first winter and decided to stay on for the summer, I then moved into the Lift Supervisor position the following winter because I wanted to get more involved with the lifts and how they operate.
What made you want to work around lifts?
Towards the end of my first winter, I was trained on how to run lifts. There are so many quirks to each lift and how they function, each lift has its own vibe, and the mountain has an ever-changing flow to it depending on conditions. I don’t have a mechanical background, so I have a lot to learn still and that’s a challenge I look for in a job.
What is your favorite part of working in your position?
Getting to see the sunrise from a snowmobile while doing transports. First tracks. Closing the summit. Every day is different, Mother Nature keeps us on our toes. Getting to work alongside a wide range of diverse employees is very important to me personally and professionally. Gondi evac practice. I could keep going…
Do you have a stand-out, memorable experience while working in your position?
After seven years working lifts, I finally got a glimpse of what exactly Lift Maintenance goes through to get our lifts spinning after an icing event by chipping towers. We’ve all seen it from a distance and reaped the benefits after they finish chipping. Lift Maintenance employees are the unsung heroes of the ski industry, to say the least.
What does a day in the life of Meredith look like up at the mountain?
Early mornings, snowmobile transports, shoveling snow, setting up mazes, sweeping chairs, many, many phone calls to ensure each lift opens on time, snowboarding around to the different lifts, helping with lunch breaks, checking the weather, meetings, interviews, answering emails, scheduling. Rinse and repeat.
What is your favorite lift? To work and/or to ride? And why?
My favorite lift to work is probably American Express where there is never a dull moment. My favorite lift to ride is probably Solstice because it’s so peaceful on a busy day.
Do you prefer winter or summer lift ops? And why?
Winter! Always Winter! I love the snow.
What do you like to do when you’re not managing lift ops?
In the winter, I’m snowboarding. In the summer, I’m sailing, kayaking, swimming, anything to get out on the water.
What is one piece of advice you have for somebody looking to get into lift ops?
Working in lift ops can be a very rewarding job if you show up and give it your all. It’s the place where most people start off at a resort and it’s a great way to see which direction you want to head in whether that’s becoming a Lift Mechanic, Ski Patroller, or even the President of Stratton. We get to call this mountain our office and like everything else you get out of it what you put in.
Meredith works as the Lift Ops Manager through both the summer and winter seasons. If you see her at any of the lifts, be sure to give a high five or a thank you for all the hard work she and her team puts in day to day to ensure your enjoyment and safety on the slopes! If you are interested in becoming a Stratton Employee, check out all of our open positions on our website today.