by Sally Francklyn
Meet the Walker family. Jennifer Walker works in the ski and ride school. Their son Colby is a ski patroller, and their other son, Wicks (shortened from Alex, when Colby was young and he couldn’t pronounce those two syllables) works in the trail crew. Since Copper Mountain opened in 1972, and Jennifer joined the ski instructing team in 1977, she’s almost been there as long as the resort’s been turning its’ wheels.
As a former volunteer ski patroller, I met Colby Walker when he joined the team after he graduated college at St. Lawrence University. My parents were also Ambassadors, and they met Jennifer who used to be the supervisor for that team. Just like our family is so involved with the resort, the Walkers are, too.
From Fairfield, Connecticut, Jennifer moved out here to be a raft guide. Her rafting coworker was employed at Copper, and he told her what it was like to work at the resort, and she liked what she heard. She was hired as a ski instructor in 1977, and has stayed working at Copper as an instructor, supervisor, or in the ski and ride school department for the past 40 years. Jennifer said “Copper has been a part of my life for so long, and I can’t imagine not being there in some capacity.”
Colby started ski instructing when he was 13. When Colby was an instructor, a parent dropped their child off. They said, “Are you home visiting from college?” Colby thought to himself, “No, I’m in middle school!” He taught part time through middle school, high school, and even college. It’s surprising to think how young Colby was when he started working at Copper Mountain. According to Colby, “Once I graduated college, I joined patrol full time.”
Now a nurse, Colby loved the medical part of ski patrol because you help patients in their time of greatest need. He continued onto nursing school to pursue that passion. On patrol, he values the teamwork while working with other patrollers on serious matters. He also appreciates the camaraderie while not responding to a call.
Jennifer’s son Wicks works on the trail crew, and he loves his job for the same reason he finds it challenging—every day is different, and he never knows what’s going to come up. Wicks telemarks and alpine skis while working on trail crew, and he even snowboards on his days off.
You’ll meet a member of the Walker family in the ski school department, ski patrol, or placing rope closures for trail crew. Perhaps the reason why Copper has stayed a fun ski area is because all the employees that work there love the resort, too. “I love the people who I’ve known for a long time and are still there,” says Jennifer. When your family skis there, you’ll find appreciation by knowing that three out of four people in the Walker family work there. “We won’t say which resort my husband Steve works for,” Jennifer said. She really enjoys “sharing the joy of Copper with first time guests, or others who have been here for a long time. “It must be a great resort when their family finds it so special, too.