At the end of last winter I decided to work full-time this year. We had been short staffed for the COVID years and I'd worked a lot of days as a part timer, but for all my flexibility there are limitations to what I get out of the equation, particularly when it comes to the type of work I get as a ski instructor.
Every ski school has it's own system for allocating work and Cardrona works on a priority system. You get more priority points for higher qualifications, more disciplines and for the number of seasons worked, including a loyalty bonus for seasons at Cardrona. If you are part time you get half the points for number of seasons, irrespective of if you worked one day a week or four.
When it comes to dishing out work each day, those instructors with the most number of priority points get work first, and it goes down the line. BUT, if you are part time your points are not taken into consideration until every full timer has been assigned work. A newly qualified full timer will get assigned work before a part-timer, irrespective of how many years the part timer might have been working. This means for an entire season part timers rarely get assigned any lessons at the start of the day and are constantly in the pool to pick up the overflow. That equates to a whole lot of waiting around and far too many first timer lessons.
To be fair I love first timer lessons. It's the one day of a skier's life where they will make the biggest progression in their entire skiing journey: from non skier to skier. By the end of the day most people can stop, turn, and manage a run down the easiest green run from the top of the mountain. Nobody makes that big an achievement in one day ever again. It's also the best opportunity to communicate my passion for the sport and the mountains in which we play.
But I was planning to sit my Level 3 this year, which requires teaching more advanced skiers, and requires me to be more analytical and technical in my approach to teaching. First timer lessons are fairly prescriptive, so I needed to be able to access other types of lessons. So I asked to work full-time, thus being able to utilise my priority points, few as they are.
It wasn't that easy, because the Cardrona business model relies heavily on us part timers to be available when it's busy and retire quietly away when it gets quiet. I don't personally want, or need, to work full time, but I do need access to a more varied lesson profile to gain some valuable teaching experience. Even though I asked my boss last year about working full time I was still given a part time contract this year, with the suggestion that I work full time in July and see whether they still needed me in August.
I got no rostered work in June at all, despite the mountain being open for half the month, so I got in a little free skiing. July was super busy, what with Australian and NZ school holidays, but was surprisingly not quite as busy as previous years. In the first week of NZ school holidays I did the four day kids program called Skiwees, and then spent the second week at home isolating with COVID!
August got even busier. A consequence of all the Aussies using up their holiday credits from the last two years, and an increase in North Island skiers, forced to come south after the NI ski fields didn't open due to lack of snow. Parking became a nightmare, at both Cardrona and Treble Cone, with the need to leave town just after 7 to get a decent carpark. I carpooled again this year, which worked well.
The ski lift queues were diabolical. I was rostered to teach a number of the local school programs, and with the huge volumes of kids all needing loading at the same time it reduced the ski time available for the kids. Keeping them amused in the lift lines took a lot of effort.
I got a good amount of private lessons too. Not just one hour quickies, but a few 2 hour ones, and occasionally I managed to roll them for more hours or further lessons. When a guest requests a specific instructor on booking a lesson, that instructor gets paid considerably more money per hour than if the lesson is assigned. The private lessons gave me the chance to extend my teaching repertoire.
I decided to sit the Level 3 exam in October, although I didn't feel I would be good enough to pass. I thought that committing to the exam would provide focus to my exam preparation, and in August I joined a group of other instructors once a week for training.
I was only just getting my stride, when late in the afternoon, whilst teaching a group of three adults on one of the green runs, a snowboarder bowled me over and my season was over.