April 22, 2020
This is the week in which we should have all been celebrating the season that was by gathering in Wenatchee for our annual conference and tradeshow. Tonight, actually, we would have come together for some food, some brews from Icicle Brewing, and most importantly – to celebrate the best of us – at our annual awards ceremony. An event I have looked forward to each year since I started spinning some of the regions lifts in 2008.
Alas, one look at your coworker’s choice of Zoom backgrounds and the fact that you may or may not be wearing pants right now will tell you that we are definitely not gathered in Wenatchee. We are 10-7. Err, 10-60, err, depending on the radio communications procedures at your mountain and however your lift maintenance crews are notified of a lift stoppage requiring their assistance, our conference is essentially, “out of service”. The lift op who called it in hadn’t even seen this type of fault before. The Mountain Ops Director hadn’t either. The lift manufacturer didn’t know this particular fault code was even part of their system. It’s a 10 – COVID-19, and frankly, even the most skilled mechanic in the industry doesn’t know the fix. No, we can’t even run on auxiliary just to evac. Tell patrol to start throwing ropes.
But ask any past recipient of our Tower of Excellence award and they will tell you that we are good at improvising. On March 13th, the PNSAA board of directors made the call to not cancel, but to postpone this year’s conference, buying a little time for thoughtfulness and the chance of new information. The hope was to hold it in September. And speaking of video conference backgrounds and questionable fashion choices, the BOD met up yesterday and hashed it out. The survey we sent out was considered, as was fall timing and the pressures every ski area will be feeling that time of year, and the thought of doing it all again just a few months later for the 2021 conference. The decision was made to not stitch together our conference in September. The postponement is no more, the cancelation is real.
Before you throw your phone against the wall and go scream into the closet (again), easy style it, there’s more! Your trade association’s mission is to represent the common interests of the membership by advocating, supporting, and providing education. Just because we won’t see each other in person this year doesn’t mean we can’t continue to educate the workforce of our amazing industry.
Today, be on the lookout for yet another email, announcing our partnership with Oregon State University and the launch of our level 1 lift mechanic training pilot program, along with a webinar invite where you can learn the details. We aim to enroll a cohort of 20 lift mechanic students over a flexible summer timeline. This cohort will be instrumental in turning the pilot program into the way of the future. For other engagement opportunities over the summer, if any of you are interested in utilizing your podcast, The Mountain, to keep connected with one another and provide workforce education, you can always send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can improvise together.
Finally, we scouted it out and found our line. It’s a straight shot. Bend your knees and keep your speed at the bottom. The run-out leads us right into the conference’s return to Bend, Oregon, in April of 2021. Just like when we send our Patrollers out on a snow safety check and ask them to report their findings, for 2021, we are asking you to “Report Back”. Mark your calendars for April, 20-22, 2021. You bring the mountain crew, your conference steering committee will bring the knowledge.
Reset, and Run.