Thoughts on Sunshine Village’s Troubles and How We Can Move Forward

1 Feb 2011

The Rider's Voice

An opinion piece by Jamie Schectman, co-founder of Mountain Rider’s Alliance

As a result of the brewing controversy over the firings of seven Sunshine Village Ski Patrol, I felt it was important to discuss the situation and hopefully take something positive out of it.

THE INCIDENT

First let’s bring everyone up to speed on what has been widely reported in the local Canadian newspapers. According to Calgary Herald, on December 17th, several skiers were skiing in a closed area, close to Boundary Bowl, at Sunshine Village Ski and Snowboard Resort. Waiting at the bottom was a 22 year old  ski patrol to apprehend the group. What followed is a reported tongue lashing from the group of skiers, including a “Do you know who I am?” attitude. The patroller then called for back-up and along with some colleagues, escorted the skiers to the base where it was revealed the owner’s son was one of the poachers.

On December 29th, reported by the Rocky Mountain Outlook, the mountain operations manager, snow safety supervisor, lift operations manager and a senior patroller arrived to work to find taxis waiting for them and their jobs terminated. Together the 4 had 88 years of combined experience. As a result, according to Canada.com, close to 30 Sunshine Village employees staged a one day protest by calling in sick to work. GlobalTV BC reported that the following day two more senior patrollers involved in the protest the day prior were fired.
According to Adventure Journal, the young patroller who originally busted the poacher was also let go, bringing the total firings to seven.

WHY THE MRA WAS FORMED

The Mountain Rider’s Alliance was created as a result of growing concern with the direction our beloved sport is going. We believe that many ski resorts operate with a profit over people mentality. Books like Downhill Slide, Why The Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns and the Environment and In Search of Powder: A Story of America’s Disappearing Ski Bum, plus the documentary Resorting to Madness:Taking Back Our Mountain Communties are fine bodies of work that illustrate many of the problems we face in our ski communities. For many of us, skiing is not only a sport, it is our life. We believe that without a values-based ideology within the ski industry, ski area employees will continue to be treated unfairly.

For me personally, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 1987 at the age of 18. I was a lift operator for two weeks and skiing on my lunch break when I got caught up on some cliffs and had to be rescued by ski patrol. My “hang time” on the rock caused me to be late getting back to my lift station. When I arrived back to my lift, I was quickly asked to hand my pass over and told I could get it back in two weeks.  Since the entire reason I moved to the mountains was to ski, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I gave them my notice and got a night job. I am confident many others who have worked for ski corporations have stories of their own.

From those early days being mistreated, I began thinking how cool it would be to own a ski area with like-minded mountain enthusiasts. Fast forward 24 years to 2011 and Mountain Rider’s Alliance has been established. For us, what matters most are the Environment, Community and Riders.

The incident at Sunshine Village hits hard with two of our three values: Community and Riders.

When I first heard about what happened at Sunshine Village, it brought up some old feelings from my early Tahoe days. I remembered the feeling of being under-valued and mistreated. I had an accident and instead of management being concerned if I was OK, I was disciplined. However, I was just a young, top-ramen-eating ski bum at the time. For the Sunshine Village employees that were fired, many of the men have families to feed and big bills to pay. They risked their lives for their employer and kept the mountain safe for everyone . They invested their lives into their work and their dismissals will negatively affect their life immensely.

Any way you slice it, the firing of the most senior patrol can’t be construed as good. Anyone that has spent time around a ski area knows that the ski patrol plays a pivotal position for the safety of everyone. Factor in that the Banff area is experiencing a sketchier-than-normal continental snowpack this year, and it’s downright alarming.

MOVING FORWARD, HOW CAN WE PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE?

So how do we move forward and make this a positive for the future of the ski industry? A Facebook Fan page titled Support Ski Patrol wronged by Sunshine Village Ski Resort has been launched and has quickly gone viral; over 1,000 fans joined in 24 hours, 2,000 by 48, and 72 hours in over 4,000. Links to newspaper articles and strong comments have been occurring around the clock from all over the globe. Four of the patrollers have filed a case and will have their day in court. It’s safe to say the management’s reputation has been negatively affected.

But what can we do — as a ski and snowboard community — to protect against this kind of behavior in the future? Should we begin forming ski industry employee unions? Will future ski resorts be deterred from misbehaving for fear of a far reaching and powerful Facebook page? One thing’s for sure, based on everything flying through cyber space regarding the incident, many people are fed up with the ski resort status quo.

MRA would love to hear what you think …

FEBRUARY 5, 2011 Skiing Magazine Article, Sunshine Village Ski Patrol vs Resort Management

FEBRUARY 6, 2011 Interview with Attorney Representing Fired Employees

FEBRUARY 7, 2011 UPDATE Skiing Magazine Article Pulled. Click here for a cached copy.

FEBRUARY 7, 2011 ESPN.com, Sunshine Village Staffers File Lawsuit

FEBRUARY 9, 2011 Pique Newsmagazine, Out of Bounds… Out of Line?

FEBRUARY 10, 2011 UPDATE-Skiing Magazine releases edited edition, Sunshine Village Employees Sue Resort After Staff Firings

FEBRUARY 10, 2011 The Angry Snowboarder, Sunshine Village Doesn’t Value Safety

FEBRUARY 12, 2011 OnTheSnow.com, Sunshine Battles Social Media Pressure and Labor Lawsuit

FEBRUARY 13, 2011 Sunshine Village Blog Post, Elephant In The Room

FEBRUARY 14, 2011 Calgary Herald, Sunshine Village Hires New Mountain Manager After Exit By Four Senior Staff

FEBRUARY 14, 2011 Calgary Herald, Snowboarders Trigger Sunshine Village Avalanche

FEBRUARY 15, 2011 Calgary Herald, Two Face Trespassing Charges After Triggering  An Avalanche

FEBRUARY 15, 2011 CBC Canada, Snowboarders Fined After Sunshine Avalanche

FEBRUARY 15, 2011 Adventure Journal, Snowboarders Who Triggered Avalanche Charged With Trespassing

MARCH 3, 2011 Sunshine Village Blog, Sunshine Details Reasons for Dismissals

MARCH 3, 2011 Gauntlet, Not So Sunny Times at Sunshine Village

MARCH 4, 2011 Calgary Herald, Sunshine Defends Ski Hill Firings

MARCH 4, 2011 MRABlog, Sunshine Village Files Statements of Defence

MARCH 4, 2011 Calgary Hearld, Sunshine Fires Back After An Avalanche of Slurs

MARCH 5, 2011 Calgary Hearld, Sunshine and the Scurfields Fire Back After an Avalanche of Slurs

MARCH 7, 2011 Calgary Sun, Sunshine Village Claims Staff Properly Fired

MARCH 7, 2011 The Angry Snowboarder, Lawsuits, Controversy and Allegations with Sunshine Village

MARCH 8, 2011 Adventure Journal, Sunshine Village Blasts Fred Staff as Unsafe, Insubordinate and Criminal

MARCH 8, 2011 Banff Crag and Canyon, Sunshine Defends Firings

MARCH 9, 2011 Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim

MARCH 10, 2011 Sunshine Fires Back With Claims In Court, Rocky Mountain Outlook

MARCH 14, 2011 Reply to Defence of Sunshine Village

MARCH 14, 2011 Reply to Defence of Taylor Scurfield

MARCH 16, 2011 Former Sunshine Employees Dispute Company’s Allegations, Calgary Herald

APRIL 21, 2011 SSV Sends Teton Gravity Research a Cease and Desist Order for Message Board Thread

APRIL 22, 2011 New Website Published, Sunshine Village Watch

APRIL 25, 2011 Sunshine Village: Bad Move Bullying TGR, Ski Bum Author

MAY 12, 2011 New Ski Resort Watchdog Group Formed, MRA Blog

JUNE 11, 2011 SSV Threatens EpicSki.com

JULY 7, 2011 Diffusing A Bomb-A Year of Social Media Lessons at Sunshine Village: Doug Firby Interview, Slope Fillers

JULY 11, 2011 Making Locals Jaded, Powder.com

JULY 27, 2011 Response to Making Locals Jaded by Sunshine Village, Powder.com

Comments

comments

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40 Responses to “Thoughts on Sunshine Village’s Troubles and How We Can Move Forward”

  1. Peter Long Says:

    Seems like forming ski area employee unions could be in the future to protect against this sort of conduct.

    Reply

  2. John Richards Says:

    I for one, applaud the ski patrol and other employees for standing up to management.

    Given how many people are hearing about this story, I bet management wished they had acted differently.

    Reply

  3. John S. Janecek Says:

    Jamie, what you’ve just put together makes sense, even for a short-term Lift Operator. I cut my Lift Operator eye-teeth at Squaw in 1985.

    Sunshine Village keeps shooting themselves in the foot by demanding termination over mediation. Bottom Line: Ski areas/Resorts must convey a world of safety to their guests, whether they be Full-Time/Seasonal residents, Annual pass-holders or walk-up ticket purchasers. This is a major part of the package. Terminating such experienced talent for their own ego is counter-productive to the good of the Resort. The family that controls the Resort has been in control since 1981. Have they learned nothing in the previous 30 years? NOPE.

    I have never heard of such an action by a Resort… (imagine Vail or Squaw making such a drastic move, mid-season). Wholeheartedly, I support the Ski Patrol/Employees who were terminated without due cause. Without them, we’re just “On Our Own”…

    Reply

  4. liz ploeg Says:

    all that i have to say is this is a best case scenario already – i’ve had my chain yanked by ski industry coo’s and it certainly happens to a lot more people than one would think! for the average person trying to pay bills it’s simply not feasible to try to file a lawsuit against a giant mega corporation that owns millions in revenue and has top notch lawyers trained to make sure you never have a case in court.
    i am very impressed by the community spirit and go-to attitude of all of the people involved in making this incident a big deal. this is what needs to happen – more and more often so that eventually, the power is in the employees and people’s hands and we won’t see this sort of travesty happening.
    it would have been very easy for sunshine’s media and management to sweep this all under the rug for a long time if nobody had stepped up and taken a stand for themselves and for their community. i’m very proud of everyone involved in the starting of this movement and i’m proud to say i’m doing my part to support it in hopes that this kind of incident can become history one day. if we can’t learn from our mistakes, what can we learn from?

    Reply

  5. Shanie Matthews Says:

    I’ve been working in the ski world since I was 12, and in the 2 and a half decades of being involved in the industry it is absolutely amazing to me how ski corporations continually believe that their employees are not a vital aspect to the health of their business.

    A union could possibly help matters as well as the ski community as a whole bonding together and letting the managements that don’t treat their employees with the respect they deserve know that it is not acceptable.

    I applaud Sunshine employees for standing up for their rights.

    Reply

    • Traci Baker Says:

      It’s not just the ski corporations it’s everywhere. My husband worked for the University of Saskatchewan and they treated their employees in the same manner, the Union he was part of seemed more interested in keeping management happy. However, in this case I think that Sunshine is counting on this story to lose steam and flame out, people must keep talking about it. Go to as many travel threads as possible or comment websites at newspapers and post your thoughts, keep getting the word out and focus on safety as much as possible.

      Reply

  6. Dave Aschim Says:

    This incident has many calling for the formation of a union to protect the workers at Sunshine. I’m not a labour lawyer, but at first blush, it looks like these workers are already protected by the law. I don’t want to start a union/non union argument, I just think it’s germaine to point out that Alberta labour laws already protect employees from wrongful dismissal. This appears to be a clear case of that and I hope the courts can quickly solve this problem and penalize Scurfield. I take your point Liz about legal expenses, but I think the law in the case is pretty clear.

    here is the relevant section of the Alberta Labour Standards Code:
    Section 55
    RSA 2000 EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS CODE Chapter E-9
    Options for employer to terminate employment 55(1) Unless subsection (2) applies, an employer may terminate
    the employment of an employee only by giving the employee
    (a) a termination notice under section 56,
    (b) termination pay under section 57(1), or
    (c) a combination of termination notice and termination pay under section 57(2).
    (2) Termination notice is not required (a) to terminate the employment of an employee for just
    cause,
    (b) when an employee has been employed by the employer for 3 months or less,
    (c) when the employee is employed for a definite term or task for a period not exceeding 12 months on completion of which the employment terminates,
    (d) when the employee is laid off after refusing an offer by the employer of reasonable alternative work,
    (e) if the employee refuses work made available through a seniority system,
    (f) if the employee is not provided with work by the employer by reason of a strike or lockout occurring at the employee’s place of employment,
    (g) when the employee is employed under an agreement by which the employee may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested to work by the employer,
    (h) if the contract of employment is or has become impossible for the employer to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employer,
    (i) if the employee is employed on a seasonal basis and on the completion of the season the employee’s employment is terminated, or
    (j) when employment ends in the circumstances described in sections 62 to 64.
    Section 56
    RSA 2000 EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS CODE Chapter E-9
    Employer’s termination notice 56 To terminate employment an employer must give an employee
    written termination notice of at least
    (a) one week, if the employee has been employed by the employer for more than 3 months but less than 2 years,
    (b) 2 weeks, if the employee has been employed by the employer for 2 years or more but less than 4 years,
    (c) 4 weeks, if the employee has been employed by the employer for 4 years or more but less than 6 years,
    (d) 5 weeks, if the employee has been employed by the employer for 6 years or more but less than 8 years,
    (e) 6 weeks, if the employee has been employed by the employer for 8 years or more but less than 10 years, or
    (f) 8 weeks, if the employee has been employed by the employer for 10 years or more.
    1996 cE-10.3 s56
    seems pretty clear to me

    Reply

    • liz ploeg Says:

      Labour Standards WILL help, but there is only so much they can do. Often times there have been so many previous labour complaints against the resort that the Labour Relations Officer you are assigned is already on a first name basis with the COO and who ever is in charge at the resort you are filing your complaint against. Speaking with labour relations and a resort representative at the same time kind of feels forced and one sided. Everyone always just wants a fair settlement, and wants to “keep this quiet.”
      At least in my experience. I hope they get everything they are asking for and that this doesn’t happen again.

      Reply

  7. Ski Industry Employee Says:

    Great discussion……thx 🙂

    Sorry – I’m keeping my name confidential. I need my job. But here’s my 2 cents…

    Labor laws are only as good as the will of the government to support and enforce them and the desire of the company to uphold them and even go beyond the bare minimum requirements.

    In Alberta, don’t hold your breath…it just doesn’t happen.

    Reply

  8. Traci Baker Says:

    Absolutely agree with you. Unions may make a difference because everyone speaks with one voice and the organization within a Union can provide lots of support, lawyers, media specialists etc.

    Reply

  9. annonymous Says:

    As a long time local and someone who has been “wrongfully dismissed” from a prominent Calgary business I would highly recommend a union in this instance. Its a nice idea to think that because there are labour standards in place, that employers will follow them. However the government of Alberta doesn’t have a say in who is hired or fired at any business or organization and it is assumed that employers will follow labour laws and do their due dilligence . Fact is though, that most employers don’t follow the proper procedures in terminating their employees. The only thing the Alberta Labour code is good for is after the firing, you can use it as a defense to collect. Most employees don’t file wrongful termination suits against their employers because it is incredibly difficult and expensive to do so. Trust me, I’ve done the leg work. I am a firm believer that either the legislation needs to change and more extensive surveillance needs to be done on organizations to ensure they are following proper procedure. OR, unions need to be formed so that the employees have a fair chance at preemptively defending their positions in an organization, and in turn, keep tabs on management to ensure everything is fair. In the end, the business always has more money than you do and they can use it to bully you into not suing them; because at the end of the day, whatever settlement or award you do receive from a wrongful termination suit, is very quickly eaten away by legal fees and the time lost… unless it is an instance such as this, where it is multiple parties filing a class action suit for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most wrongful termination suits end up in small claims court for less than $10,000 which would merely cover lost wages, leaving out altogether the damages and legal fees.
    UNIONIZE!

    Reply

  10. Greg Says:

    OOOH, tough one on the unions. I don’t know how our northern neighbors in Alberta operate, but down here a crew needs to think long and hard before forming a union. On the one hand, a union has the power to solve a problem like this, but these problems rear up rarely, and when the problems aren’t there, a union can be a solution looking for a problem. It’s truly a dilemma, because while there has obviously been a historical need for unions in industries, organized labor can reach far enough to become an obstruction to business.

    I’m no expert on organized labor, and I have no business getting into the union/anti-union argument. But I will say this: If the unions originated to provide a unified voice, that voice can’t even remotely compare to the roaring results generated by the Facebook page. Once again social media shows how it is changing the landscape, and the backlash generated in this case could do more to affect change than union arbitration.

    Tally ho!

    Reply

  11. Greg Says:

    Correction: I meant to say “organized labour”

    Reply

  12. lameness Says:

    “Isn’t it interesting to see the speculation that goes on, when only one side of the story is presented. You really think that Sunshine would terminate senior staff in the middle of the busiest parts of the season over a brat? Coddled little Taylor’s stupid actions only served as a better story.

    The whole story, that I heard from employees who would have heard from people more “in the know” than mountain staff, is that it was discovered that certain senior staff members were openly participating and condoning staff to drink while on duty and while operating vehicles and heavy machinery. Sunshine didn’t have any choice in terminating with cause.

    The majority of Sunshine staff doesn’t know, because if the truth was told, it would violate the 4’s privacy rights (which WOULD open Sunshine up to a lawsuit.)

    As much of a douche Taylor Scurfield is, firing these 4 was in the best interest of the company and of guest safety.”

    SV

    Reply

    • Liz ploeg Says:

      Sounds like a lot of gossip to me… If a majority of staff don’t know about it in such a tight knit team it is probably just upper management propagating hearsay to make the firings seem valid. Even if it were true, sunshine could have made a press release detailing why they were let go. Why do you think that hasn’t happened? Company policy? Sure, I smell bullsh*t.

      Reply

  13. Jack MacDonald Says:

    Hey Lameness,

    Are you part of the defense team?

    Reply

  14. Kate Says:

    This isn’t just about the firing of these individuals, which incidentally is against labour code and they do have an unlawful dismissal case in the works, which I have no doubt they will win – even though it will be tied up in the courts for years to come (hence the financial concerns). It is about the absolute disruption in these men and their family’s lives. We aren’t just talking about seasonal employees that were only there for a season, underpaid and overworked. They have lived in the Bow Valley, some of them, for upwards of 30 years. They built lives there, and have devoted those lives to the community and the industry. It’s not like they can just go and get another job, because for them to continue doing what they love, they will have to leave Canmore. It’s wonderful to see the community rally behind them, even though it would obviously have been better had it not gone down at all.

    Reply

  15. Craig McArthur Says:

    As one of the individuals terminated in this fiasco I would like to give my two cents after reading Jamie’s editorial:

    Jamie talks about being undervalued in his early days in the industry. To say that I was treated as undervalued would be an incredible understatement in this case. When I scrape something nasty off the bottom of my shoe I at least have the decency to ensure that it is dealt with properly and I certainly couldn’t say that happened here. The autocracy that dominates this resort is presently being allowed to reign unimpeded and it has been and continues to have a devastating effect on the staff in my opinion.

    I think it is important to remember that the owners and executives in question are the very same ones that are charged with deciding what is considered safe practice and what is not. One has to ask ‘If this is the way that dedicated long term members of the safety team are being treated, how concerned are these executives with the safety of me as a nameless rider that comes out for the day. I think that the answer is quite clearly ‘not much.’

    This is the type of environment that we are being forced into accepting if we wish to ski and ride at corporate resorts. I say that it sucks, and not just a little, it sucks big-time. Some amazing staff that were mentors and role models to all of us that are coming into the industry have been cast off like so much rubbish. I think it is pretty poor business practice, ludicrous from a safety standpoint, and quite simply disgusting as a way to treat human beings. As such I thank Jamie and the MRA for standing up and saying that this is wrong and should at least be stopped if not reversed.

    Reply

    • liz p Says:

      would you really take your position back with the resort under this management? i think a public apology complete with a settlement for the years upon years of salaries you would have made had they not been so idiotic as to fire you in the first place, plus lost wages in the mean-time are in order. you guys deserve a medal of honor for putting up with what sounds like utterly unbearable workplace standards. i hope that you are able to move onward and upwards unscathed from this … experience shall we say.
      i know for myself and my family and friends – we will not ski sunshine under the current ownership – may my great grandmother roll over in her grave if we ski there when t. scurfield takes over.

      Reply

  16. George Says:

    “From those early days being mistreated, I began thinking how cool it would be to own a ski area with like-minded mountain enthusiasts.” You want to own a ski area where the lifties might not be around after lunch?

    Reply

  17. Don Davidson Says:

    My perspective, as a former volunteer patrol director at two ski areas (220 volunteer patrollers) and paid head of labor relations for a 3,500 employee organization, I believe the answer is not a union.
    There is an old axiom in labor relations that says “management gets the kind of workers it deserves”. Clearly the Sunshine incident is a case of poor management (and apparently poor parenting) which has created an intimidating and hostile workplace.
    It is also clear, that in many cases, labor unions have outlived their usefulness. Why, again the answer is poor leadership. Labor leaders have been more concerned about their own job security vs. the rank and file (particularly the less senior) who diligently pay their membership dues. Many labor leaders have their head in the sand not dealing with global marketplace realities of cost competitiveness.
    The final arbiter of this Sunshine situation, a union remedy or MRA’s quest for a ski utopia is the marketplace. I suspect Sunshine will lose ticket sales and eventually wither. I also suspect that while a union solution sounds good it can’t be cost justified. Unions don’t have the inclination to organize small employee groups composed of transient part time resort workers; they just don’t represent a good target for successful organizing campaigns.

    Reply

  18. QuebecPatroller Says:

    I don’t know if a union is desired, but they do exist in some ski hills where paid patrollers are active. Mont Tremblant (don’t know who the owner is anymore) has unionized employees, including the patrollers. But they are all part of the same union, wherever you are or whatever you do on the hill.

    So it does exist… Does it work well… Only Tremblant patrollers or employees might be able to answer you… But I remember that since all the employees were on strike a few years back, management didn’t have a choice but to close the runs until the negotiation were over. They still had the activities going at the bottom of the hills… Since we don’t have snow all year around in our area and the union started the strike at the beginning of August… The season pass sales went down the drain, since the customers were backing up the employees. When snow started to fall, it’s only then that management decided to negotiate… In this case, an union made a difference.

    But like someone else said in the above thread, all depends on the union leadership too… Having an union friendly with management, like in some big business I know… Union has no authority and employees are paying a union for nothing.

    Reply

  19. Dougman Says:

    How do you take down a ski resort?
    What the Scurfield family has done at sunshine village is intolerable, they need to be held accountable for their malevolence. We need to get together as a ski community and make them pay.

    Reply

  20. A Local Says:

    Clearly this is a very touchy subject from both camps.

    At the end of the day, avalanche/human safety (in any area out of bounds, the back country etc…) is a very serious issue, period! The people that enforce these safety regulations, regardless of who they are being enforced upon, should not be punished for doing so and the people offending should know better and should be a better representative of their family and of the resort their family owns…..

    Reply

  21. Anthony P Says:

    One of the great things behind a union is solidarity, and in the absence of a union we can still provide that to our friends and colleagues. They do not have protection to approach management in fear of their careers. Management has also expressed their distaste at stooping to a discussion about this. It is up to those who support the voiceless and make their case heard.

    Firstly we cannot let this died quickly in mainstream or internet media or the social media venues that haev been so supportive.

    Secondly A public display of solidarity should be put forward. I hope when management is picking up their groceries at the market they see half a dozen t-shirts and buttons stating “we “heart” our ski patrollers! and if questioned about it state how these actions are socially unacceptable in our community. (any community).

    The last thing we can do which will ultimately get the attention of the ownership is having everyone aware of this incident kick the owners in the wallets. Avoid skiing at the hill if you are someone who buys day tickets and encourage others to do the same.. If you have already handed your money over with a card or seasons pass, ski; but wear your t-shirts and DO NOT by their food and beer. that is where they make most of their money. Also for pass holders right a letter to management demanding recourse to you issues.

    So stand together. let united voices be heard! The strength of unions does not come from the union but from the solidarity of the movement.

    Please support our ski patrollers.

    T-shirts available online at this website. will ship internationally. I have just ordered mine!

    Reply

  22. Jeremy Evans Says:

    This is very positive blog post from MRA. While the lawsuit will eventually reveal which party is culpable, it’s refreshing to see the solidarity of a tight-knit community come through in these difficult times. I’ve talked with several people whose lives were saved by the actions by two of the employees involved in the lawsuit. They seem to be committed mountain men who loved working at Sunshine Village and helped save people’s lives. For that, they should be commended.

    Reply

  23. Casual Observer Says:

    I know this is slightly off topic, but am I the only one that thinks it’s incredibly strange Sunshine Village has yet to issue a statement, other to say they can’t comment? Or did I miss something?

    Reply

    • CMac Says:

      Its called the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). Companies are not allowed to divulge their employees (present or former) information without written consent by all parties. Even then, most companies won’t even comment on employees or give references more than “Yes they worked for us from X to Y.”

      http://pipa.alberta.ca/index.cfm?Page=legislation/index.html

      Its probably safe to say that the terminated patrollers don’t want Sunshine to release their offical “causes” for termination now or ever. Its probably also a safe bet that the name Taylor Scurfield doesn’t even appear in the “cause”.

      I am curious though, because no-one, not even Scurfield, would fire 20% of their mountain operations staff the busiest week of the year if they didn’t feel they had cause to do so. (And Taylor being out of bounds doesn’t sound right. Kendra was doing that for years and kept getting caught by Patrol, and no-one was ever fired for that!!!)

      Reply

      • Casual Observer Says:

        Thanks for the insight CMac.

        In saying that, I would still expect Sunshine Village to make some kind of statement, even if it is vague and not mentioning actual employee’s names or reason for dismissals.

        IMO, by not releasing anything is only fueling speculation and the fire.

        Reply

  24. Claire Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post this valuable article. I am related to the young patroller so this hits home hard. Indeed as you succinctly put it skiing is our way of life, a deep passion, I can’t even think of how many times in the past 3 years I have said “he LOVES that job”. More than just the job of course, you develope a deep relationship with the mountain. The last day of the season was always a sad day, and the count was on for openning day! We have needed to come to peace with realising how undesirable, impossible, it would be to continue working for a company so lacking in integrity and although sad for all the wonderful memories, grateful to move on.
    I genuinely believe Sunshine wants to run things in such a manner that they are no longer able to ‘rely’ on honest, hardworking staff, to ‘tow the line’ when they need them too, they must have been looking for a reason to get rid of the ‘good guys’……
    I have been certified to teach through the C.S.I A for many years and I’m wondering if an association maybe the best way to go for Patrol. Every ski hill would have to follow a standardised association procedure manual and would not be at liberty to make personal interpretations of their own manual procedures?

    Reply

    • Jamie Schectman Says:

      Hi Claire,

      The purpose of this post was to try and take away something positive from this unfortunate incident.

      Please let your family member know that we support him 100%.

      Cheers, Jamie

      Reply

  25. Claire Says:

    Jamie, thank you for your response we really appreciate sites like MRA,
    congratulations, and thank you for your support. There will of course, thanks to sites like yours, be many positive things to come out of this incident as long as we remain pro-active and not re-active.
    Wishing you an awesome season!!

    Claire ( mother of ‘young’ patroller)

    P.S Love MRA photo of the week, we took Charlie up Mont Blanc Du Tacul in the background when he was 10yrs…..good character building! Have had a good (!) few days skiing there over the last 30 years.

    Reply

  26. Local Says:

    The only problem I have is that “no press is bad press.” People are talking about Sunshine. People talk about Taylor Scurfield (the owner’s son who is at the seat of the problem). Sunshine isn’t losing money and Scurfield still has an ego bigger than the peaks at Sunshine.

    Taylor Scurfield is never going to feel guilty about what happened because it seems apparent that he’s ruled by his ego and that he thinks he has a right to do what he wants and his father just reinforced that by the firings. For a 22-year-old, he’s technically an adult but apparently can’t deal with real life as a grown man and take responsibility for his own actions. He’s also of the generation where he doesn’t understand commitment to work and staying in a position for 20-30 years. (He hasn’t even been around much more than 20 years and I wonder if he’s worked a day in his life.)

    I hope things work out for the best and that the people who were fired without cause are compensated. The guys who spoke up after the fact took a risk – one which is admirable considering they were willing to stick their own necks out for the sake of an injustice.

    Reply

    • Anonymous Says:

      “No Press is Bad Press” has taken an interesting turn. The fact that Skiing Magazine pulled their article only confirms ski corporations have a lot of influence.

      Reply

  27. Johnny Utah Says:

    The Canyons, Utah has had a patrol union for a few years now and from what i hear it has had a mostly positive affect for patrollers. It has complicated and made some things more difficult though. In 2007?? the ski area threatened to not recognize the union and even advertised all the jobs as available in local media. In the end the patrol got their way as it is hard to train new patrollers without any senior patrollers.

    Reply

  28. =NoXiouS= Says:

    Tuesday Feb. 15, 2011: The two individuals related to the Avalanche in closed “Wild West” area have been charged with Trespass. I believe Taylor Scurfield and friends should also be charged regardless of who they are. Closed is Closed and Fair is Fair.

    Reply

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