In the news at Mammoth over the last little while has been the fact that Mammoth Mountain had their H2B visa application denied by the US government. The H2B visa was a stream of visa that allowed the Mountain to employ foreign workers to fill skilled jobs like ski instructing. It was a big loss for me personally as many of my friends can no longer work here and I miss them. It was also a huge loss for the Ski School as many of those instructors denied visas were supervisors, trainers and experienced professionals. Of course the biggest loss is bared by those instructors who can’t return, some of which have been coming here for more than a decade, some of which called Mammoth home.
However, some people are happy that the Mountain is forced to employ Americans for the Ski School. This is a valid argument along the lines of Americans for American jobs, especially true in hard times like the present. But I feel this is a simplistic view. The Ski School benefited from having a mix of nationalities on their roster. Ideas on skiing were shared and the skiing public benefited from this. Friendships between instructors meant Americans could get jobs in the Southern Hemisphere through connections opening up opportunities to Americans. Not to mention the fact the Ski School was able to employ more highly qualified instructors. You may think that people are lining up to be instructors and yes the mountain does receive a lot of applications but most of these are from people that have never taught before. It takes a certain person to want to move to a seasonal and isolated resort, especially for more than one year, it takes a certain person to make a career out of teaching skiing. Instructors with experience and qualifications are hard to come by and don’t grow on trees. It is these type of people the Ski School misses the most.
On the bright side I’ve had the honor and pleasure over the last two weeks to train some of the new instructors the mountain has employed. I’ve been impressed by their eagerness and excitement. I hope that some of them will get qualified, return next year and make a career out of teaching skiing, it’s what the school needs. They have big shoes to fill left by those not able to come to Mammoth but I am encouraged by what I have seen so far. Good luck to them all.