An amazing gap year working in Banff
Do you remember the scene from the film ‘Cool Running’s’ when they are stepping out of Calgary airport for the first time and John Candy (the coach) walks straight out into the -30 degrees freezing air, leaving the four Jamaicans inside the airport too terrified to step outside? Picture the same scene but replace the ‘Jamaican bobsledders’ with 15 British students and John Candy with Evie (our rep) and you have a pretty good image of my first five minutes in Canada! The long drive to Banff in what seemed like whiteout conditions meant we arrived in the black of night. In the morning I drew the curtains to see Mt Rundle staring back at me with the sun rising over it and instantly knew I had made the right decision.
It was that morning I found out I was going to work in what was about to become the best job I could ever picture having; in the Inns of Banff Ski Shop. After my first couple of shifts I thought the most challenging aspect of working for the Ski shop was waking up at 05:30 (I know – I didn’t think it existed either!) But in hindsight perhaps it was the busy periods of the season, or working a full day after pulling an all night bender for someone’s birthday, or dealing with irate (usually British!) customers, or by living up to the incredibly high levels of customer service expected by the North Americans. Still, at the time, and looking back now, I have never enjoyed work more. Great staff from all over the world, new and exciting challenges everyday, and my favourite part was when the customers returned their rental equipment saying how much they enjoyed Banff and how upset they were that they were leaving, knowing full well I still had months until I had to come back!
I spoke earlier about challenges at work, these do not compare to the challenges I faced outside of work – words such as ‘cooking’, ‘washing’, and ‘vacuuming’ (which I still maintain is pointless!) first come to mind, however these were easily overcome with a little help from friends. The challenges I speak of come from the peaks of Sunshine village, the snow of Lake Louise, and the steep slopes of Norquay – I Speak of course of snowboarding! By the time I had come back from Banff I had come from not being able to stand up on a board (even on a flat surface!) to riding ‘double black diamonds’ including the infamous ‘delirium dive’ of sunshine village.
How to celebrate such victories at work and on the hill? I do believe the answer lies at the bottom of a pint glass in one of the many, many, bars in Banff. Sundays at Auroras (‘Sunday Funday’) and Tuesdays and Thursdays at Melissa’s (‘Super Mega Cheap Night’) are a small example of the few fond memories of some epic nights out in THE party town of Canada!
Alas all good things come to an end, around late May 2006 after 6 short months I took the long flight home to sort out University preparation – safe in the knowledge I would never stop snowboarding, always remember the cold walks to work, the rides down empty slopes feeling as if you’re the only person in the world, and most importantly always keep in contact with the friends I made – and guess what? Next weekend we’re having a Banff reunion in Liverpool – another ‘Sunday Funday’…
Written by Eric Hall