My amazing job in the U.S.A following my ski instructor course in 2014
Words by SnoworksGAP ski instructor Nick Jenner.
Working at the Hermitage Club:
Despite failing the technical component of my BASI 2 exam, I was fortunate to have two jobs offers to instruct, one in Switzerland, the other at the Hermitage Club in the US.
After much deliberation, I chose the Hermitage Club. Why? Firstly, I had always wanted to work in the US and obtaining a work VISA is immensely difficult (particularly as a ski instructor) and the club handled all of this. Secondly, the club also guaranteed to pay a minimum of 36 hours a week.
The Hermitage Club is a private mountain and members club based in the Green Mountain National Forrest in Vermont. Its 4 hours drive from New York and 3 hours from Boston. The club is essentially a weekend club and is typically open 3/4 days a week (with the exception of the Christmas period and President’s week). Instructors work whenever the mountain is open and so typically have 3/4 days off a week.
Instructors are either part of the seasonal team, teaching the same group of children every weekend. Or they form part of the non-seasonal pool, which is somewhat less structured and they will teach either private lessons or group lessons. Ski school runs from 9am to 3pm and instructors are required to supervise children during lunch and hot chocolate breaks (which are much needed as the temperature often drops as low as -20°C!). Instructors are also given exposure to Ski Patrol and are trained to do trail closure procedures & lift evacuation.
Days off are spent doing food shopping & laundry, visiting other places in Vermont or free skiing at Mount Snow (the nearest ski resort), which is 7 miles from the Nordic Hills (the staff accommodation) and can be reached by a walk & bus. Whilst the Nordic Hills is very isolated, there was a wide variety of international staff living there, who were always up for a laugh and this made up for the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere.
The Hermitage Club has it pros and cons as a place to work as a ski instructor. On the plus side, the financial package (+ tips) is very lucrative. Furthermore, the club provides you with the opportunity to work in the US and such opportunities are few and far between (particularly as a ski instructor). The downside is the ski school is less structured and the staff housing is very isolated, making it difficult to go out meet locals and have a beer in the evening. That said the Hermitage Club is in the top 800 fastest growing companies in the US. Change is omnipresent and its highly likely that ski instructors will be housed in a different building next winter as the club acquires other properties in the surrounding area. The ski school is also due to expand from 85 staff to 110-120 staff and new procedures are due to be introduced, this will nullify many of the issues I experienced during the 2014/2015 season.
However it is worth noting that Vermont is immensely sparsely populated; The UK has a population of 64 million (662 people/sq mile) comparatively Vermont has a population of 625,000 (68 people/sq mile). As a result spending the winter teaching Vermont is a very different experience from being in Europe and Japan for the winter. However, Vermont has some excellent skiing & backcountry touring, the locals are very friendly, as are all the staff at the Hermitage Club. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the US and will probably be returning next winter. If you are interested in working at the Hermitage Club or have any questions please feel free to contact me: email@example.com or James Lazor the Director of Snowsports & Alpine Racing firstname.lastname@example.org