Sunshine Ski Village and a Lawsuit

Sunshine Ski Village of Banff in Alberta Canada is having PR and labor problems.

The Calgary Sun notes:

The son of Sunshine Village owner Ralph Scurfield being told he couldn’t ski out of bounds was the catalyst to the firing of four employees, a wrongful dismissal suit claims.

The legal action, filed in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench, seeks compensation for senior manager Chris Chevalier and three others dismissed after a dispute with Taylor Scurfield.

I often regard ski patrollers with a touch of disdain, but they serve an important purpose.

The ski patrollers I am in frequent contact with are volunteers and get free skiing and discounted food & drink from the resorts they work at. I sometimes ride up the chair with them and talk with them, but sometimes it seems they are cop-wannabees. However, we all know they are just working the authori-tay to prevent their EMT skills from being required.

It seems at bigger ski resorts the ski patrol is more of a hired workforce, having the bigger areas they need to cover more area, they have more dangers, steeper slopes, higher speeds,, and so on; the bigger resorts need the motivation of being paid provides.

Taking the facts as put forward by the Calgary Sun article above and the lack of response from Sunshine Ski Village’s ownership I have to side with the ski patrollers. The ski patrollers when chasing down those who go out of bounds are necessarily unavailable to come to the assistance of others at the resort. In addition, if the party goes missing or one of the members becomes hurt then who is it that will have to direct their attention to search and rescue? Not to speak of the increased danger presented by deep powder and increased avalanche risk.

If members of the owning family and their friends are to be exempt from the rules then the owner needs to explain that to the employees. I believe the owners and the family in the group should abide by the rules they require everyone else to follow, but to fire employees for doing their job is a sure fire way to killing morale among your employees.

Good Stuff!


  1. Man… what a kind of ridiculous dig on people who volunteer their time to help deal with injured riders. I’m a volunteer, and I can tell you… none of us do it for the free pass or discounted food. The majority of us are pretty well to do, my patrol has a guy who is literally a billionaire, and have a lot of time as a result of that to put in the work required to stay volunteers and spend a lot more money on travel, lodging, equipment, training, etc than we save by getting a free pass. I put 60 days in patrolling last year, ran too numerous medical calls to list… something like 80, with several of them extremely critical. Our medical training requirements are exactly the same as the paid staff, and we perform the exact same duties when in the uniform. Some are EMT’s and some are OEC on both the volunteer and paid staff. We have our slackers, but so does the pro staff. As to the “cop-wannabees” statement, I think you have it reversed. The volunteer staff for the most part have no interest in acting like cops, because they aren’t there every day. They spend their time riding and taking calls when they are in a position to respond. The pros, who get bored because they are doing the same thing every day seem a little more inclined to go after people for minor violations that I have ever seen volunteers getting worked up over and volunteers usually have some age on the pros and aren’t nearly as amped up about the chase. I don’t know where you got your info, maybe you just rode with a couple of bad volunteers or things are different in Canada than down here, but I’d have to say you’re way off base. Not all of the volunteers are great, but a lot of us put in a lot of time, money, work, blood and sweat to be a part of something we consider extraordinary and maybe you’ll realize that some day when you need the help.

  2. Red Panda,

    As a volunteer patroller do you have to deal with avalanche control? How about pulling people out of avalanches or tree wells? Do you have to work when you are needed or only when you want? What I am saying is that in order to get someone to deal with all of that on a regular and predictable basis requires payment of cash and not just a comp lift ticket and meal & drink discounts. Your goals seem to be more about burning some empty time than anything else (and what a great way to do that).

    As I note in my full length response, I’ve had zero bad experiences with any type of patroller, but I’ve seen vols go Five-Oh on minor infractions. But you also undoubtedly read my comment about them doing this so they don’t have to cut to the front of the liftline, fetch the toboggan, and work their EMT skills, right?

    In any event those who work as enforcers of rules are often viewed as killjoys, fact of life that is. However, most of us also understand, Ski Patrollers like police officers will also be there to rescue us.

    You need to read the Facebook response to my post, where the reaction by two of the commenters there is essentially how dare I speak of volunteers in the same breath as pros.

    I stand by my post.

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