October 31, 2004 in City

Work, ski – or is it ski, work?

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Rima Maroney, left, talks with Douglas Braden while they wait for pre-interviews at the Schweitzer job fair Saturday. Braden hopes to be a ski instructor and Maroney was hoping to work in the day care area.
(Full-size photo)

SANDPOINT – Kevin Fogg stood outside and looked up at the snow-dusted slopes of Schweitzer Mountain Resort. Holding a sheet of paper in his hand, he shook his head and said it didn’t look like he’d be working at the resort this winter.

“I just moved up here from Las Vegas. I need to raise a family and I can’t do it on the pay offered here.”

He and about 200 other would-be ski resort workers came to Schweitzer early Saturday, hoping they’d find the right job that pays well and gives them free ski passes for the season. In addition to free passes at Schweitzer, those who work at least 16 hours a week also get discounts on family passes.

A construction worker who intends to start an electrical contracting company, Fogg said he’s used to making at least $12 an hour. Among the jobs at Schweitzer Fogg considered, most paid about $8 an hour, some even lower.

He and his wife and two children moved to Sagle, Idaho, several months ago. He decided Saturday not to turn in an application, but he knows he can come back next week if he changes his mind.

“I just wanted to do something up here for the winter, and get some skiing in,” he said.

Caroline Bishop, another Sagle resident at the Schweitzer fair, said she’s just interested “in taking the winter off, and having some fun.” Bishop, who sells teak-and-glass handmade lamps, said she hopes to get a food service job. Most of those pay between $5.50 and $9 an hour.

“It’s just a great way to get in some skiing and enjoy the hill,” she said.

Schweitzer and the other resorts in the area say they’d like to open Thanksgiving weekend, weather permitting.

To get ready, other ski hills in the area have job fairs planned in the next few weeks. Mt. Spokane Ski Resort plans to hire about 180 workers during a Nov. 12-13 fair at the mountain.

Chewelah’s 49 Degrees North will have a job fair next Saturday. Owner John Eminger estimated he’ll be hiring about 70 workers, ranging from cooks to ski instructors. The ski area is adding about five new jobs this year, including positions in marketing and accounting, he said.

No new jobs are being added this year at Schweitzer, but the North Idaho resort will still have the largest work force among area ski destinations, said Scot Auld, the mountain’s personnel manager.

Ault spent pretty much all of Saturday interviewing applicants, and plans to do the same today from noon to 4 p.m. The final day of Schweitzer’s job fair is next Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During the three-day job fair, his goal is to hire about 200 full- and part-time positions, he said. Roughly half the jobs are inside work, with the others involving working at lifts, as hill “escorts” or working in the terrain park, the popular hangout for snowboarders.

One of those in line Saturday, Randall Kyle, was there primarily to get a job working in the terrain park at Schweitzer. “I’ve worked at Baker, at Bachelor and Mt. Hood. I should have a good chance here,” said Kyle, 25. A devoted snowboarder, Kyle said he’s like many others in line – someone who works in the national parks in summer and at a ski hill in winter.

“Getting paid to work somewhere where you can then ski for free. That’s why I’m here,” Kyle said.

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