SERIAL SEASONAIRE: HOW TO SNOWBOARD OR SKI EVERY WINTER
Want to spend all winter snowboarding or skiing? Every winter. But how? Check out our guide to becoming a Serial Seasonaire and having the perfect lifestyle.Snowboard contributor, Faye Young, has just spent her sixth season snowboarding in the mountains. Find out how she does it...
I packed my board bag and jumped on a plane to Colorado for my first winter season one month after I turned 17 (my mum wasn't too keen on the idea) and it was the best thing I've ever done.
The following season I returned to Breckenridge for another three month season before looking into European resorts and settling on Mayrhofen. Spending three months in Breck meant I had to save enough money before going to cover all my costs as I knew that (without a visa) I wouldn't be able to work while I was out there. It's great if you want to really enjoy the winter and progress with your riding without the stress of working.
Making the switch to Mayrhofen meant I could work part time in the resort to fund my season and, also, I could visit loads of different resorts without travelling too far.
People often say to me 'wow you're living the dream'
The obvious benefits of living in the mountains for the winter is that you get to enjoy snowboarding (or skiing) every single day if you want to. You can really progress with your riding and if you plan to work towards being sponsored it's great experience for the future. I really wanted to focus on my park riding so choosing a resort with a world class park was always high on the list of priorities.
People often say to me 'wow you're living the dream' or 'you've got it easy haven't you?' which is true to a degree and I'm certainly not complaining but there is a downside to being a seasonaire. There are sacrifices that come with spending so much time abroad, mainly the fact that it makes it difficult to save money. Unless you have financing you can't afford to have a place in UK and abroad so getting on the property ladder can prove to be difficult.
You need to get used to living out of a suitcase but in the long run it teaches you that you don't actually need so much stuff!
Long term career plans might have to be put on hold as it's difficult to progress within a company if you're not there all year.
Funding Your Winters
Of course you could potentially meet the right person to help you land your dream job within the snow sports industry. It could open the door to jobs that you would have never even known existed.
After a few years going from job to job I decided to look for summer seasonal employment
Doing a winter season abroad not only means searching for a job in resort but you need to seriously think about work in the UK. You might be lucky enough to have a flexible employer who will let you have a few months off but that won't be an option for everyone. After a few years going from job to job I decided to look for summer seasonal employment that fits in with snowboarding.
I work on a campsite in the New Forest and my contract is April-November which fits perfectly with the snow season. You could apply to work at a UK wakeboard park, a few places actually offer accommodation with the job so you can move to a different part of the country without the stress of finding somewhere to live.
As I have a steady job through the summer I can afford to buy my lift pass at the start of the season and cover my accommodation costs which means I don't have to work as many hours through the winter.
Glass collecting is a pretty common job in resorts, the pay is reasonable and the hours are very snowboard friendly (I usually work 3.30pm-6.30pm!).
Park shaping is another good option, Qparks (the company in charge of the Vans Penken Park) will provide you with accommodation, lift pass and even a uniform. The job is fairly easy to pick up. I had never done it before and after a couple of days training I was confident to shape on my own. It does help to have some snow park knowledge but you don't have to be a pro rider to do it.
Be warned, you will spend hours shaping the park only to find that a stray Jerry has snowploughed over everything wearing a dinosaur onesie.
Becoming an instructor is a popular choice for doing winter seasons. It's worth doing your research into the cost of getting your teaching qualifications as it can be a little pricey and the pay in some resorts is pretty poor.
Bar work is a good option if you don't mind late nights and riding hungover 60 per cent of your season!
Most holiday rep jobs come as a package with accommodation, lift pass etc but if you're a full time rep you might not get as much free time to snowboard.
Start searching early, it really helps to have a few friends in the resort who have some insider knowledge and can give you a heads up when a job first becomes available. Resorts like Mayrhofen, Tignes and Avoriaz are well known for being popular with Brits so they are a good place to start looking.
If you are a seasonaire it's really good for a brand as it means you can constantly update them with pictures and videos. I started by entering a few local competitions to try and get my name out there. Filming short video edits like this and posting photos on Instagram and Facebook regularly is really important as it shows that you're active online which is what a company is looking for in a rider.
If you're in a resort for the whole season try and meet like-minded people and that way you can do road trips to competitions together and take it in turns filming park laps.
Normal Job v Seasonaire
The friends I have met through doing winter seasons have gradually dropped back into normality away from the mountains and it is strange to think they are living the standard 9-5 life while I'm hitting fresh powder lines not worrying about work. As a seasonaire you will find you often get asked 'so when are you going to get a normal job then?' to which I usually reply: 'who want's to be normal?'
Some days I do think about giving it all up and, as lots of people like to say, 'settle down'. Right now I have a good work setup and I get to represent my favourite snowboard company DC so until I get bored of being sent free snowboard gear in return for doing what I love I think I'll stick with being a seasonaire for now.
Catch Faye on Instagram here.