We’re only a few weeks away from the start of another winter; when the mercury drops, the snow starts to pile up, and the mountains welcome another influx of fresh-faced seasonaires.
"No matter which resort you end up in – or even which country – you’re bound to bump into these perennial archetypes"
Those yet to be beaten into perennial cynicism by an unrelenting, indifferent universe make the most of their youthful energy by spending the colder months slaving like a skivvy, hammering their liver and tearing up the slopes. For some it’s a chance to have a bit of fun before a begrudging return to the ‘real’ world, while for others it’s the beginning of a new life of endless winters.
Everyone’s path is different, but they all involve spending time with some colourful characters. No matter which resort you end up in – or even which country – you’re bound to bump into these perennial archetypes, whose presence on the mountain is as predictable as the tides.
We highly recommend getting out there and meeting as many of them as you can. Just remember: if there’s any of these you can’t spot, it’s probably you.
1) The School-Leaver Hoody
Unless you work in a chalet and have easy access to a washing machine, there’s an unspoken tolerance of lax clothes-washing when doing a season. The launderette in town can be a ballache, especially if you’re either working or riding during its opening hours.
Still, someone really needs to have a word with the one who wears the same school-leaver hoody every day – on the mountain, in the bar, at the apartment...
I’m sure those years with the likes of ‘Jonesey’, ‘Piggers’ and ‘Twaz’ were the best of your life, but having their names permanently emblazoned on your back isn’t the way to keep the magic going.
2) The Pablo
Despite hailing from the leafy suburbs of Tunbridge Wells, this guy has somehow become the primary source for all illicit substances in resort.
When you need him, he's easy to find. Turf-wars are pretty rare in the mountains, so he'll probably be on the slopes rather than planning a hit on his crosstown rival.
3) The Feral Aussie
As best embodied by Gumby, this Antipodean liability will somehow find a place in your heart despite stealing your pint and/or partner.
They’re quite rare, but you'll probably come across a lot more if you do a season in Australia. Or Whistler. Or Japan.
4) The Ghost
Desperately homesick, this one returns from whence they came before Christmas has even rolled around.
Such is the fast-moving nature of the season, you’ll have forgotten what they look like by January and will barely remember their name come the spring.
5) The Wannabe Pro
“Yeah, this is gonna be a big year for me – I’ve been smashing the XL line recently. I’ve already been hooked up by one of the shops in town, and I’ve got an invite to next week’s rail jam. I’ll drop my video part at the end of the season, then my sponsors are flying me out to Australia for the summer."
“My hanging-around-the-park-trying-to-look-cool game is on point. I begged the guy in the shop for a 10% discount off my bindings. Same story with the jam organiser. In the end I won’t put out any footage, instead claiming it’s ‘now a two-year project’, but I will head out to Oz if my mum lets me."
6) The Dark Horse
At the other end of the spectrum, here’s the rider that might not even have a smartphone, let alone a sponsor. Regardless, they kill it harder than most ‘pro’ riders you might meet, and don't feel the need to shout about it on social media.
They usually don’t say much in person either, which only adds to their mystique.
7) All The Gear, No Idea
There are always a few folk who sign up for the seasonaire life despite no previous shred experience, but are determined to learn. This is great - there are few things better than watching someone properly fall in love with snowboarding for the first time.
Without fail, there'll be one of their number that has massively overdone it, arriving in resort with the shiniest new high-end gear despite not being able to do a falling leaf.
This makes them the envy of their co-habitants/colleagues - and, in the morally murky world of the season, a prime target for half-inch specialists. Thieves and rich kids... it was ever thus.
8) The Aspiring Filmer
You won't find much flash gear on this guy - unless you look in his backpack, that is.
Every penny he/she scrapes together is invested in lenses, tripods and batteries, leaving them with the look of a malnourished snow-hobo.
If they persist, a hefty day-rate shooting adverts for car companies may one day beckon - but for now they're doomed to carry the heaviest bag on the mountain and cop flak from Wannabe Pro for missing his shitty zeaching.
9) The Sicknote
Somehow, this unfortunate soul ends up getting crocked more times than Darren Anderton. Whether it's knuckling a kicker or taking a tumble during post-pub parkour, they're never able to walk it off.
Remove the shred factor from a season and all that's left is working for dirt pay in sub-zero temperatures, and hanging out with an increasingly incestuous circle of friends. Sucks to be this guy.
10) Everyone's Favourite Barman
Unless you're in Utah, you'll find more pubs in resort than you can shake a stick at - to the point where bar staff just about outnumber those who work on the actual mountain.
Despite this, one pint-puller always stands head and shoulders above the rest. Even if they never set foot on the hill all season, their name (usually just their first name will do, like Beyoncé) will be known to everyone in town.
As long as you don't ask for a seasonaire discount, the two of you should get along famously.
11) The Stressed-Out Holiday Rep
See that guy/girl in the turquoise fleece, branded with the logo for that dodgy-looking low-cost operator that advertises on daytime TV? The one getting barked at by an angry couple who want to know why their room doesn’t have an en-suite?
If you see them in the bar (and you will), buy them a drink. They’ll need it.
12) The Token Local
In most resort towns, the seasonaires and the natives tend to keep their distance from one another. Don’t expect to be immersing yourself in the local customs and/or language.
However, odds are that you will befriend at least one, and this is them. He/she won’t help you with the language issue though – they’ve seen enough Brits come and go to know that it ain’t worth it.
13) The Mad Chef
If most holiday-makers knew just how mentally unhinged the person preparing their dinner is, they’d push their plates away and head to the local kebab shop.
Slaving away in a hot room, juggling several tasks at once, responsibility for ensuring that nobody gets poisoned, working with a gaggle of inexperienced underlings... We’re not sure exactly what it is that drives them to the edge of sanity, but the unassailable proof can be found in ski resorts the world over.
14) The Drunk Nanny
Rather than spending their days riding, this one gets the pleasure of looking after some screaming little tots while Mum & Dad are out ticking off black runs. By the time the lifts close, they’re ready for a stiff drink – or five.
No-one would take a nannying job unless they were only in it for the après, so they’re usually the ones sending it the deepest at the bar. Hope for their sake that their employers never hear the full story of what they get up to.
15 & 16) The Suspiciously Perfect Chalet Couple
Always immaculate, always chirpy, always loved-up – these guys are enough to make a Hallmark greeting-card writer violently sick.
In the close-quarters world of the season, how is this even possible? The smart money says that they’re like the shopkeepers from Father Ted as soon as they’re behind closed doors.
17) The Shit DJ
Never mind stretching – the most important pre-season preparation is coming up with excuses for not going to this guy’s night at the club (always remember: the maximum number of grandparents you can have is four, and none of them can die twice).
Failure to stay on top of this may result in what feels like an eternity spent in godawful-drum-and-bass purgatory.
18) The Lifer
At the end of the day, and no matter how many oddballs you meet, winters in the mountains are fun.
The Lifer gets it – they’ve been working at the same resort for fifteen years. They might look like shit, but anyone who can survive the season life as long as they have is to be respected - their next pint is on you.