Persistence Required - Meet Snowmaking Team Lead Leah

Leah started her career in snowmaking at Roundtop Mountain in 2014 and is now a snowmaking team lead and an ambassador for the Vail Resorts Women & Allies, Employee Resource Group (ERG). What does it take to be a snowmaker? Leah says the important quality to bring to the role is persistence. For her, it’s never been about gender. It’s about getting the job done. Leah says, “In snowmaking, it’s not really about the experience you have when you apply for the role, because nearly nobody has snowmaking experience to begin with. We’ll train you.” 

Leah says it’s the instant gratification of snowmaking that she loves so much. “I made this snow, and it’s right here, right now.” She prides herself on perfecting the snow to create a great guest experience. The growing number of women in mountain operations has created a positive work environment for Leah and she hopes to see that continue across our industry. Even when not working side-by-side on the slopes, Leah says, “...Just knowing there was someone else out there facing the same struggles from the same perspective was really helpful.” 

Hear more about how Leah got into snowmaking and what she’s learned from the Women & Allies ERG: 

Epic Insider: How does our company and your team benefit when you have more women in mountain operations roles?  
Leah: Having people from different walks of life adds diversity which helps the team. Two of my bosses have said that they enjoy having women on snowmaking teams because we approach things a little differently. At one point, we had four women on night shifts out of the eight-person team. It was a great experience. We didn’t work side by side on the same slopes, but just knowing there was someone else out there facing the same struggles from the same perspective was really helpful. We have a tendency to have a bit more finesse on the job. I’ll take the time to really dial in the snow gun to go ahead and really be sure I like where it’s sitting or play the winds.  

Epic Insider: Tell us about your experience with Women & Allies 
Leah: It’s been amazing. I’ve learned so much about the inner workings of departments that I didn’t know existed. I’ve met incredible women. Seeing what is possible when a group of focused people unite to accomplish something is amazing, even at a company as large as ours. We’ve done a lot in a short time, even if not everyone sees it. Even though I only had a small amount of involvement, I’m most proud of the “Advice for Girls” film event. We just did ours at Roundtop. The small turnout was still an accomplishment because it impacted the people who watched the movie. The movie made me want to ski, as a super beginner skier, maybe even as an adaptive skier. It’s amazing how adaptive this sport can be. 

Epic Insider: Tell us something interesting about your off-season fun. 
Leah: In thinking of our Commitment to Zero, I’ve been using my sewing skills to make covers for the snow guns, podiums, and ski patrol caution tape reels. We have leftover material from parts of the business we don’t use anymore, such as the summer slide, and I’ve been using it in a repurposed way to maintain our equipment and tools. It saves us money and keeps leftover materials from going to the landfill. 

Epic Insider: What’s one thing you would tell women looking to get into an operations role/mountain leadership/STEM?  
Leah: Just do it. Don’t let the fact that you may not have done all of the things in the job listing prevent you from applying. In roles like mine, there is training. Don’t let your idea of what you qualify for be a barrier to thinking big. Go ahead and do it anyway. You’ll learn from the experience. 

Epic Insider: Where is your favorite place to play outside?  
Leah: The beach brings me the most joy. If I have a spot to go and think about life, I like to go to the top of Chair 6 (Gun Barrel) because there is a nice spot to sit and look at the world. The view from the top is pretty impressive. We can see Three Mile Island and all the way to Harrisburg and York. You have an unobstructed view of farmland and at night you can see the lights of the cities in the distance. I prefer the view at night over the daytime view. In the winter, I’m here at night a lot.  

Epic Insider: You’re about to head to that favorite place for a fun day - what’s your go-to snack to bring along? 
Leah: Lately my favorite snack is Dot’s, seasoned pretzels. Those are addictive. But I’m out doing work on the mountain, I like to have a granola bar on me.