TG: What drew you to Copper Mountain originally and what has kept you here?
TH: I grew up in New Jersey and only took up skiing later in life. When my friend and I came out to Colorado looking for jobs I found one as a lift operator here at Copper. I was hooked and I never found another job that was more fun! Before I worked at Copper I was an instructor and led outdoor adventure courses with Outward Bound for over ten years. Every day here is like an outdoor adventure course--and I’ve got a view from my office window that I can’t replace! My mantra as an educator has been that we learn by doing. That’s what lift ops is all about.
Lift ops is an entry level position, no experience required. There’s lots of turnover with our team of 120 lift operators, so I’m a rarity. We’ve got lots of college grads in our department who are figuring out their lives and who are passionate skiers and boarders. Our lift ops orientation requires that they go out there and learn to do their job quickly, while maintaining strict safety standards and excellent customer service for our guests. We really want our lift ops to convey to our guests how amazing it is to live here in paradise and get to ski at Copper every day in such a beautiful environment.
We want to create positive memories on the lift, especially for beginners who can be terrified by loading and unloading. For some, the lift is what you endure to get to the fun part of skiing down. We consider our lift operators to be coaches who vigilantly teach our guests how to ride safely so they can really enjoy their time here. It’s a short exchange – 10 seconds with each chair of guests. We want our lift ops to focus on being human and animated, acknowledging our guests and encouraging them to go out and have a great day on our awesome mountain.
I just love the passion and enthusiasm of the millennials on our team—they keep me young!
TG: What are some inside secrets that people might not know about Copper Mountain?
TH: Families are often surprised at how kid-friendly, safe and centrally located everything is here at Copper. Many people don’t realize how special our geography is either. Our naturally separated terrain is easy to navigate and keeps you from accidentally getting stuck on a black diamond run if that’s not where you want to be. One of my favorite things to do here at Copper Mountain is to go play on the tubing hill. It doesn’t take any skill and your aunt or your grandma who doesn’t like to ski can join you in the fun.
TG: If you could only ski or ride one run at Copper Mountain which one would it be?
TH: Ptarmigan to Main Vein where the blue cruiser runs are. I just love those cruiser runs!
TG: What are your favorite après ski/dining experiences here at Copper?
TH: I really like Endo’s and JJ’s, but not just for the burgers—they’ve got great hip and healthy salads with kale and quinoa to keep up with the times so you’re not stuck in the ‘70’s.
TG: What’s your idea of a fun family experience here at Copper?
TH: Make sure to organize your day based on the terrain you want to ski or board. Check your trail map and you’ll find West Village is great for beginners and a good place to start. East Village will give intermediate and expertslots of steep blue and black runs. Because East Village is the first stop on the bus from the parking lot doesn’t mean it’s where a beginner wants to get off and start! West Village and the Kokomo triple chairlift have some great beginner runs, and the upper lift to Lumberjack isn’t necessarily more difficult. Don’t be intimidated by going on the higher lifts; I’d recommend heading on over to Lumberjack and not all the way back to the bottom. This way you’ll get to try some new terrain and not keep skiing the same runs. Finally, I recommend eating lunch around 11:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m. because you’ll miss the crowds and you’ll keep your family happy.
TG: What winter event do you look forward to each season?
TH: Christmas! I love all the lights and decoration, Santa’s visit, the torchlight ski parade and fireworks. When you see all the instructors ski down with their torches, it’s just magical.
TG: What do you think makes Copper Mountain so popular?
TH: I think it’s the down-to-earth people and authentic community. And our amazing separated terrain--it keeps families and groups happy. Experts and beginners get to ski where they want to and it’s not easy to get lost on terrain where you don’t feel comfortable skiing or boarding. And did I mention the gorgeous views?