This season the I AM is celebrating the legacy of Herman K. Dupré, a co-founder of HKD and a true pioneer in the world of snowmaking. Each contestant chose a card from a deck of "Hermanisms" and showed how their team exemplifies that particular Hermanism. Each video is unique, but all great testaments to the grit and undying dedication of snowmaking crews across North America.
And the winner is...
BLUE MOUNTAIN, ONT.
Hermanism: SWAG method: “Scientific Wild Ass Guess”
Don't call Blue Mountain snowmakers a crew; call them a troop. The team of 20 swoop in on their sleds, assemble across the Mountain and make that four letter 's' word happen...SNOW. (What were you thinking?!) They’re extremely loyal, undeniably dedicated, and without a doubt some of the hardest workers on the mountain. They take pride in what they do and are the first ones to clock in and the last ones to clock out. They do the job and do it well no matter what the weather off Georgian Bay or Mother Nature throws at them. Thanks to snowmakers, Blue Mountain has been at the forefront of snowmaking technology with automation, energy efficiency and raw power creating one of the largest snowmaking systems in North America. While they’re true professionals, they find fun in the frosty days and frigid nights. The snowmakers at Blue are the backbone of the Mountain and without them, there’d be nothing to slide on.
ELDORA MOUNTAIN, COLO.
Herman K. Dupre, the co-founder of HKD Snowmakers, would often ask people, “What good happened to you today?” Every day, the Eldora snowmaking team heads out on the hill determined to make good things happen. Highly skilled and committed to one another—and to producing the finest possible product for our guests—Eldora’s snowmakers are incredibly successful in pursuit of this mission.
OKEMO MOUNTAIN RESORT, Vt.
Okemo’s snowmaking team consists of 22 members with 118 years of experience collectively. The Hermanism Okemo identified with as a theme for its video was “What good happened to you today?” Doing good is one of Okemo’s core values – so it was an obvious choice. There’s an old saying, “what goes around comes around,” and when you do good, good happens to you. When you’re part of a hard-working snowmaking team, the good that happens to you can be as simple as a bright, sunny day with ideal temperatures. It’s when the snow that collects on your sleeve is just perfect. It’s the walk back to Base Pump at the end of your shift and the camaraderie of your team when you think you’re too tired to laugh – but you do anyway. It’s knowing that you can count on every single member of your team, and that together you can achieve anything It’s knowing that what you do, and the snow that you helped make, may create an experience of a lifetime for a guest.
Okemo’s Snowmaking Manager Ray Kennedy has been with Okemo since 1994. When asked what advice he would give to someone thinking of becoming a snowmaker, he replied, “Be willing to work hard and have your coworkers’ back. If you do that, you will have a friend for life.”
SQUAW VALLEY, CALIF.
Hermanism: “At the end of the day, these mountains will still be here. They don’t give a shit about your problems.”
Squaw Valley has 14 people on its snowmaking crew, with close to 100 years of collective experience. Mark Meyer, Squaw Valley’s snowmaking manager, says that this tight knit crew doesn’t see a lot of turnover; many seasons they don’t need to hire anyone new because everyone returns year over year. Snowmakers form a unique bond, says Meyer. They’re like-minded guys who not only have to have each other’s backs in a dangerous work environment, but they also just spend a lot of time together outside. Working overnight, under the stars is a one-of-a-kind experience, and Meyer says it brings out conversations and connections that wouldn’t happen in an office, leading to that camaraderie the Squaw team feels.
Meyer says although they are called snowmakers, his team is known for its ability to be able to do anything on the mountain. They make snow for about three months out of the year, so the rest of the year they could be doing grooming, electric work, construction and more. The snowmaking team stayed on even after the resort closed last March due to COVID-19 because they have so much knowledge about the mountain. Meyer says that variety is the coolest part of the job; it’s never boring because every day brings a new task. Even the frequent advancements in snowmaking technology is something that keeps them on their toes; they are constantly working to stay up-to-date on new equipment and techniques.
Meyer says one of the most fulfilling parts of the job is that they get to make something that people enjoy, and he gets to experience that gratitude from his neighbors—and sometimes even from strangers in line at the grocery store. In a December like this one, people wouldn’t be doing much skiing if snowmaking wasn’t an option.
“We get the sunrises, we get the sunsets, we get to ski every day,” Meyers says. “And people notice what we do. The other day at the store, a guy came up and thanked me because I had ‘snowmaker’ written on the back of my jacket. The fact that we actually make something that people enjoy, that’s a good part of the job.”