Ski School instructors mix mountain passion with jobs in New York City

STRATTON MOUNTAIN, Vt. – Arthur Harris has been a Stratton skier since he was a toddler, trailing along as his sister and brother in law would tackle the slopes.

His ski school colleague Bob Gallup caught the bug in High School, taking his buddies up to small mountains close to his Connecticut home to go night skiing.

For these two men, Stratton isn't just a vacation spot, but an escape from the rigors of life in the big city. Harris and Gallup are just two instructors who balance the grind of a professional career with a weekend love for the sport.

"I can think of few things where you can just totally lose yourself," Harris said. "All of the hassles that may be going on in New York. All of those deals you're trying to hold together."

"But when you're flying down Polar Bear at a pretty good clip, you're only thinking about one thing. You can really leave everything else behind."

A homeowner and season pass owner for several years; Harris found his teaching niche back in 2001. With a less than stellar Post-9/11 economy, a few of his buddies already on staff convinced him that he'd fit right in. To which Harris figured, why not turn an annual luxury into a slight profit.

And he's enjoyed his juggling act ever since.

"You usually get a 30 minute break when teaching out there and I'll spend half of it cramming a peanut butter sandwich down my throat," Harris said. "And I'll spend the other half on my Blackberry, setting up appointments and returning emails."

Gallup works as a design engineer, having worked with nearly every municipal agency the city has to offer. His profession is a lifelong love going back nearly 25 years. Now, like on the hill, he serves in an advisory type of role and according to him, the parallels are everywhere.

"I treat the people I work with just as I would teach my own kids," Gallup said. "I feel that if I'm teaching a kid and they have a good time with me. They're going to learn something in the process."

"And I feel it works the same way when I'm teaching a young engineer."

Stratton became his mountain of choice because it was close to home. It had everything he ever wanted for him, his friends and his family in one compact location.

"I never feel bored here," he said. "There's a great base, a village with everything you would ever need. And it's great to be a part of the ski school and be with guys who are always pushing you on the hill."

Still, both men have a soft spot for beginners, turning little kids into passionate skiers for life.

It is always fun finding someone who is a level six and driving them up to a level eight skier," said Harris. "But there's nothing like having a beginner and turning them into an intermediate skier"

"Knowing they're hooked in the process is a pretty special feeling."

And for Gallup, that love of teaching already looks like it runs in the family.

"I wouldn't push it on them, but its there if they want to try it," Gallup said. "My youngest daughter is 10 and I've seen her teaching friends of mine (four times her age) how to go down the hill."

"So maybe she has it in her."