Our Lift Department is the face of Aspen Skiing Company to our guests. They work "snow or shine" in the great outdoors to prepare and keep each lift running all day for our guests. Part of a big team on a busy lift or skiing to one of our highest lifts, it’s impossible to forget a season here.
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Lift Operations Team Profile
Janine BienkowskiWellington, New Zealand
Winter job title: Gondola Specialist, Aspen Mountain
Summer job title: Gondola Specialist, Aspen Mountain
Years at Aspen Skiing Company: 13 years
Hobbies: Fishing, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, wine and dining
I was committed to a job in New Zealand, but I needed a change of pace and different lifestyle. I had friends here from home that had been here five seasons who convinced me to come out. I rang the Lift Operations Manager back in 2005, did a telephone interview, and I’ve been working here ever since!
What do you tell your friends you do for work?
I run a ski lift, and we call it a gondola.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The people! We really are a family. That’s what makes me stay here year after year. I enjoy meeting and welcoming our new “lifties” every season and making them feel appreciated and excited to be with us. The snow here is incredible, too. It’s nothing like I was used to in New Zealand. It’s fluffy, light and amazing!
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Winter time is cold! You need to be prepared for all conditions out here. Uniforms are provided, but hand and toe warmers are your best friends on the coldest days.
Winter is also much different than summer. In winter, you get skiers and more locals. Sometimes the lift lines can be very long, and it can be challenging to keep your energy up and your smile going. But in the summer, it’s a totally different atmosphere with many guests having never been to Aspen before. You’re greeting guests, telling them about the mountain, the history of Aspen, and even some who don’t know how to load a gondola. It’s very exciting to see both seasons.
What skills or characteristics would you think your job requires?
You have to be customer-focused, attentive, a team player and willing to work out in the cold. You must like the snow! It’s especially helpful to be able to ski or ride, but we do have a good program to assist you with learning.
What makes Aspen unique?
This company! Their willingness to look after staff and the opportunities for promotions are incredible. I think we are the cleanest and greenest company in the valley, and I love that we offer incentives to join and donate to the Environment Foundation and contribute to local charities. We are so much more than just a skiing company. Aspen is a small town with a lot of character, and people are always coming and going. However, the people are so friendly in Aspen, it is not what you hear. The rich and famous can actually be your friends.
What do you like about working for Aspen Skiing Company?
The benefits are amazing. Becoming a new mum, it was great to get health insurance for my family. The 401K plan is amazing as well. I try and take advantage of everything as benefits have improved over the years — from the comp passes we get for skiing to what we get for summer activities over at Snowmass.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career or a season in Aspen?
It’s a commitment, but one you will not regret. We will look after you, train and encourage you to learn your job well. I am not mechanically-inclined, but I learned so much about mechanics through all the hands-on training. I started as Lift Attendant and became a lead my second season. The managers are very supportive of career development, but you may have to wait for an opportunity to open up.
How do you make it work in the Roaring Fork Valley?
Enjoy the town and lifestyle Aspen has to offer! I did not have housing when I first got here, but I was able to get in with employee housing which worked out well. I ended up being in employee housing for another 4 years, then got a place through Aspen Pitkin County Housing Authority. I now have my own house not far down valley.
Aspen Skiing Company is a fun and exciting place to work. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding. It’s a great company to work for because they look after you and they have your best interests at heart. Bear in mind, this is your job, but it's also someone else's vacation!
What makes you proud to work at Aspen Skiing Company?
The company as a whole and my Aspen Mountain family makes me proud to work here and turn up every day.