On The Hill
Shauna Bocksch grew up skiing in Breckenridge and raced at the University of Colorado, once earning All-American honors in giant slalom at nationals.Now, when she’s not turning up the heat on her skis, she’s making sure other people aren’t going too fast on theirs for her job as Slope Watch foreman at Copper Mountain.”Everybody likes to joke about it: speed racer to speed controller,” Bocksch said with a laugh.Bocksch returned to Summit County following college and has been here pretty much ever since, save for some summers spent in Hood River, Ore., and North Carolina chasing the wind to support her windsurfing habit.
She eventually began coaching the masters ski racing program at Copper, which led to her heading up the program. She transitioned into the Racing and Events department after blowing out her knee, and just this season moved into Slope Watch.She’s the boss to 96 volunteers who don yellow jackets and hit the mountain to educate skiers and riders, provide guest services and assist ski patrol.”A lot of people think that all we do is stand out there and yell at people, but that’s actually not true at all,” Bocksch said.On the contrary, nine out of 10 of the volunteers’ contacts with guests are positive, or turns positive during the conversation, she said.”We’re striving to be the friendliest people out on the mountain so a big part of our job is guest services. … People are asking where’s a more mellow run, this is too challenging. We’re required to know the mountain by heart so we can tell people where to go.”
Not to say they don’t ask people to slow down, but Slope Watch does so with an educational approach, often suggesting other areas of the mountain people might try skiing if they want to go fast.And, the frequency of their warnings depend on how busy the resort is on a particular day, Bocksch said.”If it’s empty, we’re going to be more relaxed because they’re not posing a hazard,” she said.What happens if people don’t heed your warnings, do you set to the chase?
“We don’t chase. If someone is really problematic we could follow them with alacrity down to the lift into the lift line. You’re not going to catch everybody. If they’re really troublesome, we will find them. (See) what chair they get on, call up to patrol headquarters, they’ll dispatch a couple ski patrollers and talk with them at the top of the mountain.”Where are your favorite stashes at Copper?”Some of my personal favorites are Spaulding Bowl, definitely. Spaulding Bowl and Union Bowl – anything steep and deep.”
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