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Q-and-A: Life of a snow reporter



By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

The snow reporter position at Big Sky Resort has a couple of key job requirements: wake up really early, and get the report out on time, every single day.

For snow reporter Ana Dostert, 20, this has never really been an issue in her two years on the job. Dostert learned to ski at Big Sky at age 2, snowboard at age 9, and moved to Big Sky straight out of high school.

“I just wanted to get up here at the mountain, because I loved it so much,” she said.

A self-described “morning person,” Dostert says the season is going smoothly, even with the added acreage from Moonlight Basin this year. It doesn’t hurt that she gets to ski or snowboard almost every day.

“It’s actually going by really fast,” said Dostert, who also worked for the resort’s Basecamp last summers. “It feels like it’s still December.”

Dostert talked to EBS about being cheerful on the snow phone at 5 a.m., and why she might, on occasion, under-report snowfall totals.


Explore Big Sky: How many snow reporters are there?
Ana Dostert: There’s me – this is my second season doing it – and Joe Schufman. It’s his first year.
I’m from the Fargo-Moorehead area, and Joe’s from the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

EBS: When do you wake up in the morning to get to work?
AD: If I know it’s going to snow a lot, I’ll wake up at 4:10 or 4:20 a.m., and leave my house in the Meadow at 4:30.

EBS: If it’s not a snow morning?
AD: Probably still 4:20, because I’m a girl and I brush my hair and whatnot. I usually get there at 4:50. If it’s a little heavier on snow, probably five minutes earlier.

EBS: What do those five minutes do for you?
AD: Just to help me make sure I’m getting correct information through our snow stakes, [and the right 24 and 48 hour totals]. Getting it broadcast on web, email, radio, fax and snow phone. Also, grooming reports – that’s our baby.

EBS: What does the job entail?
AD: Early mornings. Making sure we have a report ready by 5 a.m. From there we usually make sure we report at least once or twice. If it snows we try to update it again at 7, 7:30 or 8. Our main report is the 9 a.m. report. That’s the most up to date for the upper mountain.

EBS: Do you work with ski patrol?
AD: Yes, we do. We send them the grooming report, and they send us a weather report. If it is snowing [and they’re doing avalanche control work], we call them between 8–9 about upper mountain snow totals… I’ve learned a lot of terminology and weather stuff from our patrolmen, especially Chelan [Babineau-Z], one of the guys [in snow safety], some tricks and hints.

EBS: Will you tell me one of those tricks?
AD: He taught us to use the webcam in the base area plaza. The picnic tables there usually get swiped off by guests or the road crew, so you can look at those in between hours and see how much snow has accumulated.

EBS: What happens after 9 a.m.?
AD: Nine a.m. is usually when we call it a day for snow reporting. After that we’ll go to mountain services and help sell tickets if they’re busy. We’ll also do surveys; we have a daily quota of that.

EBS: Do you get out on the mountain?
AD: If we’ve kept up with surveys, and the ticket sales [office] doesn’t need us, we’ll go out and ride. It’s a bummer for Joe, because he injured his knee mid-season. I try to get out every day… Last year I skied close to 100 days. This season as of right now, probably 60-70 days.

EBS: So, how’d you get this job?
AD: It’s kind of a funny story. My mom was in Aspen for one of my dad’s [architecture] conferences, and she went to a candy shop and was talking to the owner… [Turns out] the owner used to be a ski instructor at Big Sky. My mom told her I’d been applying for jobs at the resort, and the shop owner actually knew Meg O’Leary, who used to be Big Sky’s director of sales and marketing. She called Meg right then.

EBS: What’s the most important aspect of the job?
AD: Getting the report out to people before the day starts; trying to have a consistent [snow] report; trying to make it truthful. I’m in marketing, yeah, I’m trying to sell the snow to you, but I’m not going to lie about it. You can get in a lot of trouble for over reporting.

EBS: Could you also get in trouble for underreporting?
AD: If I’m an inch under, OK, but not like five inches… Usually I want to be right on key. If there’s a few extra more inches out there that I didn’t hear about know about… Our mountain is so big, and now with Moonlight, it’s pretty interesting how it all pans out because it’s so much territory and acreage to report on.

EBS: What do you like best about Big Sky?
AD: I’d have to say the atmosphere. Being from Fargo, yeah people are cool, everyone’s nice, but it’s so different. Everyone’s usually here for the same reason– to go ski.

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