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Skiing the mountains of not only Maine but much of New England means getting to see a lot of different terrain for sure. Perhaps more than the wealth of beautiful scenery and wonderful trails, however, are all the great people you meet along the way.
I like that. I like them. Ski people.
Fun-loving, laid-back, big smiles, ready to ski at the drop of a hat. Out at first tracks, in after last chair. Every hour is happy hour, whether it’s out on the slopes or inside at the bar. You know them when you see them.
Sometimes ski people can fool you though, throw you for a loop…
I skied Mount Sunapee in western NH in early February. Three days of sunny blue skies, awesome snow conditions, fun trails, great scenery – a most excellent time all around. I was visiting the mountain as part of a ragtag ski writers group and this was our midwinter meeting. We do our official business stuff and then spend the rest of the time out on the slopes.
The folks at Mount Sunapee are super people, from the Jay Gamble the VP to Bruce McCloy the big marketing guy to Rachel Benoit in group sales. We had a super time with all of them. Ski people, you know.
Rachel was the person who organized our meeting weekend, making the various and sundry arrangements for lodging, meeting space, meals, lift passes, mountain tours and all the rest of the stuff needed by a professional group of some 25 people. She did a terrific job and we all enjoyed a seriously good visit.
I got to talking to Rachel after a fine Saturday ski day and queried her if she’d gotten out on the slopes at all in-between everything she had to do. What she told me next floored me.
“I don’t ski,” said Benoit.
Well I’ll be, that was definitely not the answer I was expecting.
Me a bit off balance, I said rather reflexively, this being a job at a major ski area and all, “What do you mean you don’t ski?”
She turned a little red and so did I and we had a heckuva good laugh. Honestly, I guess I’d never met anyone who worked at a ski resort who didn’t ski.
She explained: “My parents never skied, so I didn’t either. I started working at 14. I grew up on a farm where we had horses and donkeys. I rode and had chores.”
Benoit grew up in nearby Croydon and went to Newport High School, home of the “Tigers.” She went on attend Colby-Sawyer College in New London, just a few miles east from Sunapee.
“I’m a cupcake. That’s what they call girls at the college.”
Benoit graduated in 2013, a double major in business administration and studio arts.
Students at Colby-Sawyer get a free season pass to Mount Sunapee as well as the school’s rock climbing wall.
“But I never did either. I was always working hard. I had lots of jobs,” the industrious Benoit noted.
Nearing graduation and looking for work, an interesting thing happened to this woman who doesn’t ski.
“In one of my classes we had to pick a job and create a resume geared to it. I looked into the hospitality industry, did a search, applied for an opening at Mount Sunapee as a sales & events coordinator, and got the job.”
Benoit started at the mountain last July.
Benoit may not ski or snowboard, but we know she works damn hard and does a great job at whatever she does. What I didn’t realize is there is yet another thing she does on the side.
Benoit is a professional photographer, and from what I can see, a pretty fine one at that.
“My mom worked as a photographer, so that’s how I got into it.”
Her parents bought her first camera, a Canon Rebel.
“I do primarily weddings.” Interestingly, here at Sunapee, “I coordinate weddings as part of my job.”
Back to the no-skiing thing…
“I tried snowboarding in 7th grade, but that was the last time. I keep saying I’m going to get out, but I haven’t yet.”
I asked Benoit what she likes best about her work at Mount Sunapee.
“I like the internal and external guests. The people I work with and the people that come to ski here.”
Nice work Rachel. Thanks for sharing your story. There are so many good people stories out there, and I’m so glad I asked about yours. Rock on.
P.S. I got a nice note from Rachel this week. In it she says “I promise to make it out for a lesson soon.”
OK then, deal. And next time I’m at Sunapee we’re gonna take a few turns, eh?!