THIS trio have the best lives in snow business, writes SARAH HUDSON
Surely running a ski resort is as simple as switching the button on a few lifts, brewing the hot chocolate and hoping the heavens deliver the white stuff?
While Victoria's alpine resorts are almost ghost towns in summer, in winter they transform into mini-cities.
Workers descend from across the globe and specialists in everything from hospitality to medical resuscitation are called in for their skills.
Here are three workers whose jobs reflect the complexities involved in running a snow resort and their lifestyles.
Amanda Brown, director of snowsport school, Mt Hotham
I WORK for four months in Mt Hotham and the rest of the year I ski in Aspen, (US). I joined ski camps at school and, after university, decided to work one season at Mt Hotham. I've been an instructor since - 20-plus years - and always as a children's instructor.
There are 70 instructors at Mt Hotham in the children's snowsport section. It's a great environment to work in; no two days are the same.
I work six days a week instructing - it's high energy and fun. We have two programs, one for three to five-year-olds and the other for six to 14.
We use a lot of games and analogies to teach skiing - for example, instead of the snow plough, we call it a piece of pizza or an elephant trap, so the kids have a visual idea.
There can be tears when there's separation from adults - sometimes parents instil that though, by telling us their children won't want to stay.
We give the children one hour to settle in and 99 per cent of the time we win them over. My solution is always to get them in familiar territory, so I ask about brothers or sisters, or pets. I don't say, "let's go and ski", because they don't have a concept of that, instead I say "let's have fun".
"Snowflake" Paul Richmond, snow-maker supervisor, Mt Buller
I'VE been skiing on Mt Buller for 36 years. This is my 21st year here.
I live in Lorne (on the Great Ocean Rd) for eight months of the year and for four months bring my wife and two children. We also run a ski lodge.
I have a degree in marine biology and used to work in fisheries. Basically I learnt snow-making on the job.
There's a team of five snow-makers - we can work 70 hours a week and we run in two shifts, 4am to 4pm and 6.30pm to 7am. We run according to the weather, day or night.
Two decades ago it was all done manually, but now the computer calls us to report on conditions. We can log in on our phones and have the snow guns running before we get to work.
It's fully automatic, but because it's machinery, we've got to be here.
The snow is made with air and water and we add a natural bacteria found in plants that provides particle bonding.
Snow-making uses a lot of electricity and we try to run off peak. A lot of our water comes from the recycling treatment plant and the rest comes from the village's water tank.
Ski resorts are becoming increasingly reliant on snow-making.
It's a very brutal environment, especially at 3am. Last week we had winds of 150km/h.
But we also get to see the sun rise across the mountain and a night sky full of stars. It's spectacular.
Sam McDougall, ski patrol manager, Mt Buller
THERE are 50 patrollers in winter - 17 are paid and the rest are volunteers. There's one person here all year and that's me. I am on call 24 hours a day.
In summer there are health and safety issues around mountain biking.
In winter I'd say about a third of our work is medical, a third evacuation and rescue and the rest is slope safety and accident prevention.
To become a ski patroller I did a six-week associate certificate, which is on the way to become an ambulance officer. In terms of our medical work, the emphasis is on patient assessment. We treat a patient on the slope, stabilise them and take them to medical treatment, either the doctor, ambulance officer and there is the air-wing for patient transport.
In terms of our evacuation and rescue skills, we all have to be strong skiers and we all have knowledge of the environment here.
We train with police search and rescue on rope skills.
During the day we are on the slopes all the time assessing the conditions, erecting signage, doing speed control and policing.
If skiers are not abiding to the alpine responsibility code, then we can take their lift ticket.
We do about 2000 call-outs a season - about 15 critical patients a year.
The most common accident for snowboarders is their wrists and for skiers, knee injuries.
I first came to Mt Buller to work in 1992 as a lift operator. I now live in Mansfield and in winter I move up here with my wife and three children.