Bad economy brings new breed of ski worker |

Bad economy brings new breed of ski worker

Catherine TsaiAssociated Press Writer

DENVER, Colorado Business was good when Rick Daniluk, a self-employed Internet technology consultant, bought a house in Colorado ski country last summer.Then the economy tanked and his clients budgets shriveled. Daniluk, of suburban Aurora, faced a 75 percent drop in income this year.So he became a part-time ski instructor. Thursdays to Mondays, Daniluk works at Winter Park Resort, near his mountain home in Tabernash. Home life in Aurora and his IT duties are squeezed in the rest of the week.I realized I was not going to be able to afford to spend much time skiing unless I do something to make it affordable, said Daniluk, an avid skier at 56. Its really hard to call it a job when youre having that much fun.Its unclear how many resort jobs have been snapped up by skilled workers looking to supplement their existing jobs. But Winter Park human resources director Karen Gadberry said her department has noticed a jump in interest in middle management jobs and jobs in sales, marketing, finance, accounting and IT. In some job categories, the number of applicants per posting doubled, she said.Numbers of applications for skilled and service jobs at Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. tripled this season to about 30 to 40 per posting, said Trish Sullivan, vice president of human resources.Its the economy. There are fewer jobs out there, said Sullivan. In our ski school, former instructors who moved into selling real estate or went into the mortgage industry came back to earn more money.In December, Vail Resorts Inc. said it was laying off about 50 workers and eliminating nearly 100 vacant posts due to a drop in advance bookings. Aspen Skiing Co. said it planned to leave about a dozen mostly salaried positions open.Intrawest, which owns or operates Copper Mountain, Steamboat and Winter Park, also had layoffs this season. Steamboat trimmed 16 positions from its year-round staff, and three positions were affected at Winter Park, executives said.Don Nieters, a Winter Park private lesson instructor, said the economy has meant emptier slopes and less crowded ski classes.I feel like Im a part-time employee. There isnt much work, said Nieters, 41. I go into work and there isnt any, so I go skiing.Nieters said hed work 20 days straight last season to teach students who specifically requested him for lessons. He guessed his schedule has dropped about 25 percent this year.While Denver customers seem to be visiting more often, hes hearing less from loyal clients for whom Winter Park was a destination vacation, Nieters said.A lot have lost their jobs. Theyve got problems with their homes, he said.At Winter Park, private lessons start at $150 for 90 minutes and run up to $529 for a full-day, private group lesson.Its nice that the gas is lower so people can afford to get out here a little more, but not when they lose their homes or their health insurance or their jobs, Nieters said.Daniluk expects his resort job will make up about a third of the drop in IT business he expects, so he and his wife are cutting expenses. They havent cut skiing, though. His work at Winter Park gives the couple passes to ski free this season at Winter Park and other resorts.It just seemed to work out, Daniluk said of his second job. It helped supplement the income, cut expenses and let us do what we like doing.Spring may not be the end of Daniluks days of working on the mountain.At this point Im liking it so much, Im looking to get deeper and deeper, if you will, he said. It could turn into that bit of a career change as I get up there in the years.”

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