If you ever wanted to know what it’s like to have the best job in the world, just sit down and chat with a snow reporter. Our newest recruit is a skier from New Jersey who had never set foot on Sunday River property until his first day on the job. Not once. And you’d think that would present a challenge, but for Bob Dale, it’s no problem at all.
What other jobs have you had before snow reporting?
Before snow reporting, a majority of my career has been dominated by the watersport industry. I started out kayak guiding and stand-up paddleboard instructing at the Jersey Shore and then transitioned to a shop in Burlington, VT. A week before my big move to Maine, I was just stepping off a plane after a two-year stint overseas. My first year abroad was spent working as a supervisor at the Nevis Bungy Site in Queenstown, New Zealand (so yes, I got to bungee jump almost every day). After New Zealand, I moved to Australia and spent a majority of the year kayak guiding and surf coaching up and down the Queensland coastline. I’m trading in the waves for the slopes this year.
What made you want to apply for the snow reporter position?
I’ve been skiing in New England every winter for my entire life—mainly in Vermont, sorry loyal Mainers— and always knew I wanted to settle in the Northeast after returning from overseas to work in the ski industry. I remember visiting numerous ski resorts as part of my Parks, Recreation and Tourism Degree from the University of Vermont and meeting with their marketing teams and snow reporters at the time. The thought of being one of the voices of the mountain and being in constant contact with loyal skiers and riders really caught my attention. The stars aligned when my return from Down Under coincided with the opening of the Snow Reporter position here at Sunday River!
Tell me about your first day.
My first day was the Friday after Thanksgiving, so I had to shake off the post-feast weariness and get to the mountain just before 6AM. I met with our Director of Communications, Darcy Lambert, who ran me through the morning ritual and then got a great first day on the skis in just before noon. I then sat in on my first Sunday River Snow Plan meeting and tried remembering the names of the 50-60 people I met that day. Then I went home to have a beer and Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich.
What does a typical day at the Sunday River office look like?
I am usually in well before sunrise with only Nora or Eric from Sunday River TV for company (not that they are bad company…Eric actually has an awesome music playlist to get the mornings started off right and Nora is always firing on all pistons). Slowly people start trickling into the office, usually taken aback by how awake either Nora or Eric and myself are. I try and figure out what is going on around the place, everyone then tries to find out what’s going on from myself, we hear an excited and enthusiastic “Good morning, Sunday River!” come from the studio for Channel 7, and then we all get on with our day. Also, while everyone is typing away at their desks they get to see me and usually another teammate strut out the door in our snow gear on our way to the slopes. I get a lot of guilty pleasure out of that.
What’s the process for figuring out snow totals at the mountain?
I have a little snow elf who sits outside all night and runs in the office every morning to give me the update. Just kidding—our patrol squad is one of my first points of contact in the morning so we talk snowfall averages the moment I step foot on site. I also will make calls to the Jordan Hotel to get an update from them and an idea of higher-elevation snow totals. Oh, and I’ve got my trusty yardstick that can be used for measuring snowfall at South Ridge or smacking dozing coworkers awake.
What are your first thoughts on the early season terrain?
I was really impressed with conditions on my first day out on November 26. Snowmaking put in a lot of effort and it really showed. Temperatures and humidity have been all over the place the past few weeks but I think that the Mountain Ops team has done a great job with what they’ve had to work with.
How would you describe our daily snow plan meeting? Who are the players and what were your first impressions?
Snow plan meetings, in general, are awesome, but our daily snow plan meetings are especially impressive due to the scale of our snowmaking, grooming, lift operations, etc. Mountain Ops crews are often the unsung heroes of the mountain, so it’s great to hear how much work they put in and do our best to convey that message through the daily mountain report and other marketing efforts.
What’s your favorite part of the job so far (besides the skiing)?
I have really loved working on my photography skills. It’s great getting out on the slopes every day and I’ve found myself enjoying setting up and snapping photos as much, if not more than, the skiing.
What’s been the biggest adjustment?
A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the beach in Sunshine Coast, Australia wearing a pair of board shorts, surfboard in hand.
How do you fuel your early mornings?
32 ounces of coffee…black. None of that extra stuff
What are you most looking forward to this season both on and off the slopes?
I am really looking forward to exploring Maine for the first time. I love going on backcountry missions so hoping to find some dedicated locals to hopefully show me some of the backcountry hidden gems this region has to offer.
Mug Clubs are a big deal around here. Which Bethel hot spot are you going to commit to?
The legend of the Matterhorn Ski Bar has not escaped my attention. I have heard tell of quality pizza, live music, and of course, beer. This may be worth further investigation. The Funky Red Barn is also in my backyard so you may find me in there on occasion.
It’s your day off. What are you doing?
My Saturdays (Wednesdays for the rest of you) begin with a much-needed sleep-in and then a coffee at Cafe Di Cocoa. We are lucky enough to have a work environment that actually entices us to come in on days off as well, so you will see me on the slopes taking advantage of the mid-week snow and smaller crowds. I’m hoping to have some adventures in the White Mountains as well; I love it over there.
To tune into Bob’s and the rest of Team Snow’s reports, sign up for daily snow report emails to get them delivered right to your inbox, or visit sundayriver.com/report. You can even call the snow phone at 207-824-5200.