Laura Hudecek, 32 years old, has worked at Solitude for 9 years, and is currently the only female patroller.
with many similar professions, the ski patrol industry tends to be primarily dominated by men. That’s not to say that there aren’t some incredibly strong and talented women who also play a critical role in keeping the mountain safe though. Laura Hudecek is one of these women. Originally from Washington D.C., Laura started at Solitude Mountain Resort nine years ago, and began patrolling in the last two and a half. “I really like the medical aspect; but I can’t work in an ambulance, because I get super carsick. I also really like working outdoors and helping people. Patrolling is where all those things intersect,” she said reflecting on what drew her to becoming a patroller. From the outside, to those with an affinity for alpine environments, ski patrolling looks like the perfect job. The reality of it though involves long hours in harsh environments, strenuous physical effort, for oftenminimal pay. While skiing ability is an obvious pre-requisite, that alone doesn’t make a good patroller. Other attributes, including leadership, teamwork, and communication skills are critical. “Our motto is team before self,” said Laura, “We’re part of a unit that has to work together, and care for one another. We also have fun together too! That is my favorite aspect of the job.” With a current crew of 23 full time, and 7 part time staff, the Solitude ski patrol is a relatively small and close-knit community. The family aspect is a very obvious part of the team, where people feel comfortable to share how they’re doing, and when to ask for help if needed. “Our dependency with each other reaches beyond work,” said Laura.