Beyond the Snow: Jennifer M., Crystal Mountain
Across each snowbound mountain destination on the Ikon Pass, there’s always more than meets the eye going on behind the scenes. Mountain wide – from before the sun rises until well after it sets – these activities and actions are rarely seen by guests, yet they are experienced day in, day out, constantly creating an on-mountain experience that is special and unique.
Beyond the snow, it takes motivated, passionate people to move mountains. These are the employees who have demonstrated what it takes to keep things running, stepping up in hard times, and forever showing love for their mountain communities.
Jennifer M. - Lead Electrician at Crystal Mountain
“I think working on the mountain is such a unique experience. The weather, as well as the job, can be so unpredictable. The elements can vary from high winds and heavy snow to sunshine and calm, beautiful days, and in all conditions the job expectation is still the same. I don't see myself working any other area – this Mountain has everything from unique terrain, daily high-performance job expectation, and a core group of people that I am grateful to work with.”
The year was 1988. The biggest song on the radio was “Faith,” by George Michael. And Jennifer M. had just started working at Crystal Mountain as a lift operator. This was the first winter of a long-term love affair and multi-faceted career with the mountain where she still works today.
It all started with two years spent learning the figurative and literal ropes as a lift operator, which led to an additional two years as the Assistant Lift Operations Supervisor. For four years, Jennifer kept things moving up the hill.
“I really like the diversity of this job. No matter how long you are here there are always new challenges and opportunities to excel and grow in this field.”
As it tends to happen with a life built on the mountain, one adventure led into the next, and an EMT certification opened the doors for Ski Patrol. For several years, Jennifer split the seasons by working ski patrol in winter and lift operations in the summer. In the late 90's, Jennifer was working summers with lift maintenance when she started to feel the pull of a different type of current, which led to a transfer to electrical.
“A good friend of mine was working with the electricians, he was moving to Utah and said to me that I should try to get on with the Electrical Dept. when he leaves. That year I started as a helper in the Electrical Dept. and within a year started going to night school as an apprentice, working my way to becoming a licensed Journeyman Electrician.”
Cut to November of 2010, and the on-mountain temps were well below average. Snow was already accumulating and Crystal would soon have lifts spinning. The Gondola project, started in May, was still underway. Jennifer and her team were hiking tower-to-tower, wiring the safety circuits. A tedious affair, it could take up to a full hour for each tower, and the wiring was a job that couldn’t be done with gloves on. Feeling next to impossible, each day the electric crew would layer up and head back into the cold to get the job done.
“Being involved in the Gondola Project from start to finish is such a memorable experience for me not only because of the magnitude of the job but at the same time Sawyer was born in July of 2010, and both of these events changed so much of who I am and what the Mountain has become.”
Currently riding through that sweet spot of early adolescence, Jennifer’s son, Sawyer, has Crystal Mountain woven into his park riding, snow-loving DNA. Currently, his favorite terrain to ride is Northway, as it feels like a section of the mountain with its own unique style.
“I like the variety of terrain Crystal offers and the improvements in the terrain parks. I like the hike out south for the beauty and challenge. Crystal has something for everyone. My favorite moment was when I 360'd all the big jumps on lower Arwin's in a row a couple weeks ago. I am happy to be able to ride at Crystal as much as I do.” – Sawyer