Industry Profile: Seven Springs Park Head Digger Jordan Soohy
07 Jul, 2011
Job Title: Lead Hand Crew/Head Digger
Employer: Seven Springs Mountain Resort
Years on snow: 8
Days on snow: 100+ every year
Currently Riding: Rome Artifact Rocker 150
Currently I am: Keeping it real
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Jordan: I grew up in Virginia, but moved to Pittsburgh, PA when I was 12. My dad is a retired FBI agent and lived a super secret life I’m not even sure that I know his real name still. I started snowboarding when I was 15 but only was able to go anywhere but my back yard once or twice a season until I could drive. I am the only member of my family that snowboards or ski’s, they still to this day think that I get on my snowboard and race people down the hill. I guess that’s what you think of snowboarding when you live in Pittsburgh, PA where watching football is an activity.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Jordan: Once I started snowboarding it pretty much took over my life. I played sports for a while in high school, mainly basketball which I still enjoy but it doesn’t compare to the feeling I get on my snowboard. My best friends in life have all come from snowboarding, and the friends I had before snowboarding are still there but they don’t share the same mentality as me.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Jordan: I came snowboarding by myself a lot when I got out of high school and ended up meeting some awesome people up here at the mountain. And basically that year after high school was when the resort decided to dedicate some time and money into the parks. They hired Danny Vogel to start a program and shortly after that I met Danny and decided to start working for the parks. It’s crazy to think that 4 year later I’m in charge of Hand Crew operations. It seems like every year more and more opportunities are opening up for us here I’m always so stoked for what comes next.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Jordan: As far as education for building terrain parks goes, there isn’t really any schooling or classwork to do. But I did go to college believe it or not and I have a Marketing degree, which has actually helped me gain more responsibility at the mountain. Last winter I began running our social media…Facebook, Twitter and working with our Web guy Ian on our website. It’s been pretty cool actually having a bit of office work to do and being able to sort of be the voice of our parks to the world.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Seven Springs and a description of the work you do?
Jordan: As lead hand crew I am in charge of delegating work tasks to the hand crew on a daily basis. Duties consist of fencing off parks, inspecting, maintaining and testing features. Daily logs are filled out to document the maintenance of the parks. Outside of the hand crew duties I spend plenty of time updating our social media sites with up-to-date news on the happenings of our parks.
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Jordan: Arrive at 7am and try to have everyone awake, motivated and out the door by 7:15 at the latest. Sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to do when it’s 0 degrees and 50 mph winds outside but we make it happen. All parks are setup with proper signage and each and every feature is inspected and raked as needed. Once the mountain is open work is delegated to hand crew for the day as needed. After opening duties I typically spend about a half hour on the computer updated our media. I try to lap the parks a few times a day to make sure that everything is running smoothly but am often busy with other work that keeps me off my snowboard unfortunately. During build days work is much different and often consists of chain sawing, digging, shaping, chain sawing, drinking red bull and not sleeping. It’s all worth it in the end that’s why we do this!
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Jordan: Oh man, so many memories. We got to go to Super Park 15 this spring at Mt. Bachelor. It’s every park builders dream to be invited to Super Park. And being a small mountain from Pennsylvania that a lot of people hadn’t heard of made it that much more special for us. We were on a mission to make a statement and a name for ourselves. Definitely the most stressful 6 days of building I have ever faced in my life, but in the end everything turned out super sick and the rider feedback on our build was amazing! Thanks to Pat Bridges for making it possible for us! Other than Super Park we’ve done two photo shoots for Forum Snowboards in the past two years. One of them got the cover of Snowboarder and the other was probably the coolest thing I have ever seen or built.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Jordan: The biggest challenge that the industry faces I believe is still managing to keep up with the progression of the sport. The riding level is getting so insane so fast that us as park builders need to constantly be thinking of new ideas and ways to push the riders even further. Coming up with something that has never been seen or done before is always a challenge.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Jordan: I couldn’t really say that either one is more important coming from my position. I think that a mixture of both is probably best. You can’t go to school to build Snowboard parks but you can go to school to learn marketing skills or how to run a department and could possibly never be considered for a job if you didn’t have a degree. It’s a tough industry and a tough economy today you have to put in time if you want to get anywhere.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Jordan: Put in your time and pay your dues! Keep a positive attitude and a good head on your shoulders and don’t let others get you down. And most importantly don’t give up on what’s most important in this industry, snowboarding and fun! I’ve seen people lose their love for snowboarding because of their jobs in the industry and that certainly is not good for anyone who wants to work in the industry.
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