It’s been an unusual winter to say the least. Masks and social distancing, different lift line setups, different ways to order lunch, lodges broken down into separate spaces, the list could go on. But on a bright, sunny morning in mid-December, as the resort really got into its stride with embracing a changed season, one Ambassador came up to me as I was walking outside the Farmhouse and said “Josh, there’s something special about today.”
Three generations of the Soutar family were working here at Lincoln Peak that Saturday: Jim Soutar, one of our longest tenured Ambassadors, his daughter Jennifer as a Ski Patroller, and his grandson Logan working in our Parking department. It became clear to me as Jim shared a few things about his family that they all share a deep passion for this mountain, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of how unusual it is to have three different generations of the same family working together to help us run this resort, never mind having a staff member who’s worked here over the span of seven different decades.
Jim started skiing at Mt. Ellen in his college years before it even became part of Sugarbush, back when it was known as Glen Ellen. He joined the Ski Patrol during the winter of 1967-68 after hearing that the resort was looking to recruit additional Patrol staff. Jim fondly remembers those early years where Glen Ellen ran on a shoestring budget and worked his way up the ranks and became a certified Patroller with the National Ski Patrol. “I’m number 58, a number you have forever” Jim said. Jim reveled in how he was able to progress his personal skiing ability while part of the Ski Patrol, particularly in his mogul skills. He was crowned the winner of his age group in Killington’s renowned Bear Mountain Mogul Challenge for nine of ten consecutive years between 1990 and 2000.
Jim worked as a Ski Patroller for 27 seasons before joining the ranks of Ambassadors in the winter of 1994-95. “I was an Ambassador before there even really was an Ambassador program” Jim remarked. During these last 26 seasons, Jim has shared his deep passion for this resort with countless guests, advising them on suitable trails for their ability, helping them find where they’re going, and just being a friendly face (even behind a mask this season) to greet our guests as they arrive and depart each day. Even with the mask this season, you can still catch a glimpse of Jim (even when he’s not working!) on the wall of Mt. Ellen’s Green Mountain Lounge, in a photo from an Easter Egg hunt around 1978 or 1979.
Jim’s daughter, Jennifer, was drawn to Sugarbush’s Ski Patrol when she moved back to Vermont a couple years ago because of her dads experience on the Patrol, and Jim’s grandson, Logan, applied to our parking team this season since his family has had such a positive experience working here themselves. All three of them are typically stationed at Mt. Ellen on Saturdays, so keep an eye out for this multi-generation family on the mountain!
For those that don’t know me, I am the one coordinating the Ambassador program this winter, which is one of a few hats that I wear here at Sugarbush, like being Wednesday’s snow reporter, working at the Guest Service desk, and helping to put on some of our public events. Getting to know the nearly 90 folks in the Ambassador program has been a joy this winter, with the whole crew sharing a remarkable passion for Sugarbush and having some incredible stories to tell. Perhaps some more will make their way into the SugarBlog!