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Best Canadian Resort for a Season as an Instructor

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all

This is my first post so im sorry if I've posted in the wrong place or something. Basically just wondering if theres any season goers out there who would recommend a particular resort in Canada. As a lot of you might know, you can only get one work permit to work in Canada if you are from the UK so I wanted to make the most of it. As it happens i had a Instructing job lined up at Whistler Blackcomb for the 2016/2017 season but couldn't go due a torn ACL. Im now having second thoughts about whistler as I've heard it is very crowded. Im mainly interested in deep powder (who isn't?). So im looking for a resort which is quiet enough that the snow isn't over skied, but big enough to have to have a decent atmosphere.

Anyway thanks for any replies.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Whistler can get really crowded, especially during holiday periods (both Canadian and USA). However, on a standard weekday most lifts you can pretty much walk straight on. The obvious stuff gets tracked pretty fast, but it's a huge area so you can usually find some nice snow - especially true if you know where to look and/or are willing to hike. There's also easy access to lots of side and back country stuff where you can find fresh tracks. Nightlife is probably more extensive in Whistler than any other Canadian ski resort. I would be more concerned with the cost of Whistler than anything else. That said for a young person looking to ski and party it's a great place.

If you really don't want to go to Whistler you could look into Banff or fernie.
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I'm going back quite a way now (i.e. over 10 years) but when I did my season out in BC I thought Fernie was head and shoulders above Whistler Blackcomb. Fair enough it has a lot of vertical (though Fernie has improved a lot on that front since installing the Polar Peak chair) but I thought the amount of varied terrain in Fernie within such short distance of each other, and the fact that in the week you have a lot of the hill to yourself (relatively speaking), won it for me. As @boarder2020 said too, it was significantly more expensive to find somewhere to stay in Whistler compared to Fernie, or anywhere else for that matter. We ended up renting in Sparwood, about 25 minutes drive up the valley from Fernie which was even cheaper still (and you'll want a car anyway for road trips).

Fernie is also part of RCR so there may be other opportunities to work at some of their other resorts too depending on demand; I don't know quite how much demand they get for ski schools to be honest, but its on a few british TO lists, and you get a reasonable influx of people from Alberta and Calgary so may be some demand.

Other than that, the Banff resorts definitely get a lot of visitor numbers, so Sunshine would be a good option to investigate. I was speaking to my boot fitter recently about it and he spent a season instructing there, living on the hill itself in the village at the top of the gondola.

The rest of the BC resorts I visited (Red, Big White, Silver Star, Whitewater, Kicking Horse) are all great places but I wouldn't expect them to have much in the way of demand for instructors. I might be wrong though (wouldn't be the first time!)
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Just got back from a week in Whistler visiting a mate who moved out to be an instructor years ago and never came home! Honestly it depends what you're after, the social scene is massive in Whistler and the ski area is enormous. It is busy but we found that outside of the weekend we didn't really queue and even then being with a local enabled us to manage it pretty well. Our mate also works Fri-Mon so he's actually working during the big queues.

We had a couple of powder days and the obvious spots do skied out pretty quickly, but again the ski area is so big that once you know the area I'm sure you will also be able to get your fill!

Housing is the big caveat for Whistler, if you can get staff accommodation it's OK but outside of that it is very expensive.
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I think it depends what you want. I'd look first at where you can get work. I have worked with the ski schools in several of those places and they're nice people... I don't know how many non locals they employ. If you want somewhere quiet then you need to get away from the airports. The best location for snow geographically is Revelstoke, but it's hardly a resort you're going to get a lot of beginners at so teaching potential would be limited, plus it's not really a "resort", so that works against you if you have no transport. Do your research, make a choice..
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bigtuboflard wrote:
I'm going back quite a way now (i.e. over 10 years) but when I did my season out in BC I thought Fernie was head and shoulders above Whistler Blackcomb. Fair enough it has a lot of vertical (though Fernie has improved a lot on that front since installing the Polar Peak chair) but I thought the amount of varied terrain in Fernie within such short distance of each other, and the fact that in the week you have a lot of the hill to yourself (relatively speaking), won it for me.


Never been to Fernie so can't compare the two directly. However as far as varied terrain goes, Whistler is pretty unbeatable. It has everything in abundance (trees, bowls, chutes, cliffs, groomers, parks). Maybe Fernie has more, but at a third of the size I'm not so sure. I would agree that Whistler vertical is a little overrated. Apart from at the end of the day and the odd peak to creek run you will not be skiing the lower part of the mountain.
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Wow, thanks a lot for all the replies. It's great to hear a load of different opinions. I'll definitely be looking at Banff and Fernie a lot more extensively. They sound like a perfect middle ground between skiing and night life.

Accommodation isn't too much of a problem. Whistler offered me some pretty affordable staff accommodation.

Thanks again. This has been very helpful.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
boarder2020 wrote:
bigtuboflard wrote:
I'm going back quite a way now (i.e. over 10 years) but when I did my season out in BC I thought Fernie was head and shoulders above Whistler Blackcomb. Fair enough it has a lot of vertical (though Fernie has improved a lot on that front since installing the Polar Peak chair) but I thought the amount of varied terrain in Fernie within such short distance of each other, and the fact that in the week you have a lot of the hill to yourself (relatively speaking), won it for me.


Never been to Fernie so can't compare the two directly. However as far as varied terrain goes, Whistler is pretty unbeatable. It has everything in abundance (trees, bowls, chutes, cliffs, groomers, parks). Maybe Fernie has more, but at a third of the size I'm not so sure. I would agree that Whistler vertical is a little overrated. Apart from at the end of the day and the odd peak to creek run you will not be skiing the lower part of the mountain.


Probably didn't explain it very well, Whistler does indeed have a huge amount of terrain and arguably more than any other Canadian resort, but what amazed me about Fernie was that for such a small resort (only 4 chairs and 2 t-bars when I was there), the amount of varied terrain packed in to such a small area is surprising. Even adjacent runs within the same bowl had very different feel to each other, and the tree skiing is in my view amongst the best I've done anywhere. Ther are some serious in bound steeps to go at too. Plus the side country access is also excellent. But Whistler on scale alone obviously trumps it. Though I'd still pick Fernie Very Happy
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I can definitely see some advantages to picking Fernie over Whistler. I would pick both over Banff - too much of a commute.
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Just sat next to a guy on a plane who had been instructing in Jasper for four years. He rated it well with a good balance of work and free ski time.
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@The Salty Catfish, Whister is a busy place but that is handy as you will get work. Don't forget you will be on a zero hours type contract where some pay cheques do not cover even the housing cost at the discounted rate. Daughter is out there now doing her 4 season and having a ball. You will most likely be working weekend so miss the worst of the queues on lifts as they do have a huge problem, in my view, with uplift capability. Even though they do manage queues well - there is a plan too for more lifts in the next 5 years with another 2000 acres of skiing opening up.

Also don't forget they are now part of Vail. So do 2 years at Whistler and you could then get a job easily at any other USA based Vail resort afterwards if you wanted. US have a job based visa that is easy to get.

If you do go make sure you get the accommodation though as other wise it will be a huge pain. This year they did not have enough to cover all 1st year employees so get on the list early - luckily ski school jobs can be sorted early and remotely so you would be on the list early.
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