Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out



As everyone who's lived and worked in and around a ski resort knows, Christmastime sucks. Sucks good, in a monetary, cashflow, glad-the-tourists-are-back kind of way but sucks bad in bringing out the worst in people - high stress, high expectations, high sense of entitlement and enough Type A whingers to sorely test your commitment to peace on earth, goodwill toward men... women... children.

Christmas really sucked last year for Charlie Hitchman. Charlie was a relatively young, first-year patroller at Sunshine Village ski area. Until December 17th, Charlie was livin' the dream: throwin' bombs, savin' lives, cheatin' death, as patrollers like to style it.

Keen to do his job and mindful of Sunshine's myriad safety rules, Charlie swung into action when he noticed five young guys skiing in a closed area. Patrollers both love and hate catching people in closed areas. Contrary to the conspiracy theorists out there, ski areas hate to close off terrain. They do it when there's a real risk to either the skiers themselves or the people below who'll get whacked in the avalanche the skiers will likely trigger. Patrollers like catching guys in closed areas because if they catch them, the probable mayhem that would ensue if they didn't will be avoided. They hate catching them because the culprits always give the patrollers a lot of crap.

Charlie was about to run into a lifetime's worth of crap.

The five voluntarily handed over their passes and ID when Charlie confronted them. When he asked them to accompany him to ski patrol headquarters, things began to go sideways. They demanded their passes back and one said, "Do you know who I am?"

As at most ski areas, the rules at Sunshine are both clear and indifferent to whom the offending skiers are. If you're caught skiing in a closed area you'll lose your pass - for varying lengths of time - and be escorted off the property. Full stop.

Unless, apparently, you're the owner's son.

Taylor Scurfield, spawn of owner Ralph Scurfield, and his friends suddenly - according to the statement of claim filed in the ensuing lawsuit - began to act aggressively and threaten the patroller. Scurfield demanded to speak with Chris Chevalier, saying, "Chevy would let him go," and apparently claiming he could ski anywhere he wanted. The group threatened to jump the patroller on the way back to the bump and told him he'd pay for what he'd done.

Charlie proceeded to do his job, more or less. He escorted them to the village, lectured them about closures and, perhaps mindful of the threats, allowed them go back to skiing instead of kicking their scurrilous asses off the mountain.