Industry Profile: June Mountain Terrain Park Manager Sam Poffley
18 Aug, 2011
Job Title: Terrain Park Manager
Employer: June Mountain
Years on snow: 18 years
Days on snow: 5-7 days a week
Currently Riding: 156 Signal Omni
Currently I am: Basking in the summer sun, thinking about winter.
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Sam: Well…I grew up skiing and snowboarding in Pennsylvania. By the time I was finished with high school all I wanted to do was snowboard. While I was signing up for classes at Penn State I decided that maybe I should look for some jobs in the mountains, take a little break from school, and see where this snowboarding thing can take me. Mammoth Mountain just happened to be the first to call me back and offer me a job making snow for the resort. With no idea what to expect, I packed my bags, caught a flight to Reno, then a bus to Mammoth Lakes, CA and started working on the mountain in the fall of 2002. One thing led to another and here I am, doing exactly what I love.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Sam: If I didn’t fall in love with snowboarding and the mountain lifestyle, I would probably be sitting in a cubicle somewhere.
Photo: Julien Lecorps
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Sam: My first season making snow at Mammoth Mountain, I worked my way into the grooming crew. By the end of the year I was grooming trails. In the next couple seasons to follow I started to get to know some of the guys on the Mammoth Unbound Crew. When I had some more snow cat experience Oren Tanzer hired me to groom the parks. I was so pumped. Mike Gerstner and Jeremy Cooper taught me pretty much everything I knew at the time. I slowly worked my way up, did a season at Vail, CO. Three summers at Falls Creek, Australia. I then became a terrain park supervisor at June Mountain under Jeremy Cooper and was fortunate enough to step in for him when he made the move to Park City, UT.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Sam: Being able to travel and work in the snow all around world was probably the best experience I could possibly get. Everyone does things differently and everyone has something to teach you. Being open minded and creative certainly doesn’t hurt.
Shay: Tell us about your role at June Mountain and a description of the work you do?
Sam: Basically I oversee all aspects of the Terrain Parks at June Mountain. That ranges from the day-to-day operations of the parks and pipe, to the marketing and branding, to the events we put on, to hosting photo shoots and to the construction of new exciting features we build every year.
Photo: Abi Ross
Shay: What’s an average day like at work for you?
Sam: Amazing, I love my job. Although most of the time super busy, I still get laps in the parks and some awesome powder runs. I definitely enjoy being on the front lines of the snowboarding and skiing world. It never gets old, there is always something interesting going on.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Sam: I think anything that my team is responsible for that pushes the envelope is a memorable experience for me. Whether it be Lonnie Kauk spinning 10’s over a 110 foot jump, or Jacob Wester boosting thirty 35 out of a hip, and so on…
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?
Sam: I think sometimes it’s easy for people/places to get “stuck” in their ways. The action sports world is progressing so rapidly that it can be hard to stay in front of the game and continue to be innovative. Trying to figure out the “next big thing” is always a challenge. I am hoping to see more ski areas come out of the box, more crazy records being broken, and new features and contests that keep the industry “fresh”.
Photo: Kerry Miller
Shay: Education vs. Experience…which do you think is more important?
Sam: In my personal situation, so far experience has been more beneficial. By no means am I saying that education is not important. But you can educate yourself with experience. I am learning something new almost everyday which keeps things exciting for me.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Sam: DO IT! Bring your ideas to the table. Who knows, maybe they’re the next big thing.
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