Does anyone have anymore info about this?
The mountain safety program at the 3 former snowtime resorts was a volunteer position. These volunteers assisted the ski patrol with daily opening/ closing of the mountain, trail checks, and interaction with guests (to include education of the skier code of conduct/ responsibility). For profit corporations do not usually attract volunteer "employees" (mountain safety and ski patrollers). Since Vail Resorts is a publicly traded, for-profit corporation, FLSA regulations state that an individual cannot volunteer for a private for-profit company. Apparently, the former owner had been using an interpretation of PA laws which permitted volunteers. Vail Resorts is using their home law (Colorado), in making that determination to end volunteer positions here locally.
In talking with friends who are/ were mountain safeties at Whitetail, that mountain was able to retain at least some of its mountain safety positions by switching them into "mountain host" roles. This change was a change in their role and responsibilities, they no longer open and close the mountain with ski patrol. They can still conduct trail checks and interact with the skiing public to educate and inform. They help to keep lift lines moving and organized (yes, the mountains are short on lift attendants this season, COVID-19 removed the surge in labor that comes from international student work visas). They can help guests in over their heads download on the lifts. All of this as a volunteer. The way they were able to do so, is to join the National Ski Patrol as Mountain Hosts. This requires some basic first aid training and CPR to be maintained, but under the National Ski Patrol, they are able to remain volunteers, just like their more highly trained counterparts in the Ski Patrol.
I do not know any paid employees at any of the 3 former snowtime resorts, but I would venture to guess they are all working far more than they would like to keep things open for all of us to enjoy the snow while it lasts. I have no idea if things are equitable, the strike comments would make it seem like they are not. That said, to the poster who said get a job elsewhere, sure these folks could work somewhere other than Vail, but if they did and no one else stepped up, then the mountain would be closed and we would have a lot more to gripe about. I imagine the one big benefit besides getting a paycheck is that you can enjoy the snow whenever you want off work, if these folks are putting in extra hours to keep things running, I bet they are not enjoying the best snow conditions in years as much as the rest of us. I thank the lifties, patrollers, hosts, and instructors every opportunity I can get this season. The strange season has been made possible by them stepping up.
Vail has paid Mountain Safety positions and Programs at their other larger resorts. LMR,WT and RT were told they were too small and would never get them. The Host program that was offered was a embarrassing offer to former Mountain Safety (( I was one for 17 years) that told us to get the training, pay for it yourself but we were strongly prohibited to use any of it. Further, the positions were glorified greeters therefore no one wanted to stand around and not ski and tell people where the bathrooms all day. In addition, if we got injured Vail would not cover us. Given the strong message that Vail didn't did really want us because of the long list of what we couldn't do, no one volunteered to be a host. There were 10 Mountain Safety Patrollers that go certified for the Mountain Host Program 3 year ago at Liberty. We joined the other Mountain Safety from other Mountains. We were offered to keep the certification but no additional training was offered for recertification therefore, Liberty didn't have a core group of NSP trained and certified Hosts to prove the Vail that they could continue ( WT is able to do this, this season because they had a existing program). Therefore, it was eliminated. Recently, We got a glimmer of hope that Vail would reconsider because our local patrol friends said they were overwhelmed and needed Help. Jeff Lifgren, (Vice President and General Manager of the Vail Mid-Atlantic) went back to Vail Corp and they said no again. This is the current status as of last week.
I'm really glad that I'm not giving my money to them anymore. My family and I were season passholders for 12 years until the buyout of the Snowtime resorts. We figured that we'd give it a year to see how Vail has handled the buyout. Not well is the obvious answer. We've shifted our money to Timberline. We were at Tline yesterday and I got a midweek pass (M-F) for next season for $215 and my wife got one for $150.
We also decided not to buy Epic passes for next season and put our money with Ikon. It's obvious to me that Vail is really only concerned with the bottom line and not the satisfaction of their customers. I compared the customer service at Tline yesterday with the customer service that Vail has provided this year (via Whitetail) and there is no comparison. When I told my son that I had bought passes for Tline next year, he asked me why I would drive so much farther to ski there than Whitetail (2:45 vs 1:15). I replied by asking him which resort he would rather ski. "Timberline, of course" was his answer. I said, "That's why - and a bunch of other reasons."