Photo by Don Lipps - Lifts at Mt. Kato - Mankato, MN
Photo by Don Lipps - Lifts at Mt. Kato - Mankato, MN

Publisher’s note: We’re glad to introduce you to John Sandberg and his column Snow Job! John will be giving us an inside look into the world of winter sports in the Greater Mankato Area!

Hey, I’m John!

Maybe you don’t remember where you’ve seen me, but I’m betting it was at Mount Kato. If you have recreated at Mount Kato since it was legal to party like it’s 1999, there’s a good chance I was working.

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If you’ve seen me somewhere else, chances are good your name is Margie, you work at the Spur, and don’t recognize me as much as you know I’m just here to pay for my Red Bull and gas.

Every person I have ever known in this industry has been asked the same question, ‘What do you do in the Summer?’

So yeah, Mount Kato. Long story short I applied to be a lift operator, got hired to work in the rental shop and after 20 years of saying yes, I’m still here. I love this place. Love my job. Love my coworkers. I love coming to work every day and if I need a break I can go snowboarding.

Probably most people, when they share their job or profession get questions. Perhaps carpenters get questioned about California corners and chefs are asked about the pluses and minuses of clarified butter. Those of us in the ski/snowboard business have a commonly asked question of our own. Every person I have ever known in this industry has been asked the same question, and the answer is generally the same and usually starts, “Well….”

So here it is, the question that never gets fully answered because the asker generally loses interest long before we’re finished.

“What do you do in the Summer?”

Some tasks are done every year, some are done once, and some are on a cycle, but keeping it simple, here’s part of the answer.

  • Preventative maintenance for 8 chairlifts and 2 surface lifts
  • There was that one summer we didn’t use a table saw at all but made up for it the next two summers when Tim Penkhus and I built 18 top and 19 bottom lift shacks for Afton Alps
  • Rough and finish carpentry
  • Painting and staining
  • Plumbing
  • Hydraulic plumbing
  • Tiling
  • Carpeting
  • Mowing
  • Weed whipping
  • Roofing and shingling
  • Masonry
  • Electrical wiring
  • Wire rope maintenance, repair, and replacement
  • Tree removal and trimming
  • Rental ski inspection and repair
  • Excavation
  • Erosion control and abatement
  • Snow gun maintenance
  • Enjoy an occasional weekend
  • Sleep
  • Christmas shop
  • Trebuchet construction!

I’m sure I missed some things, but I’m not going to spend any more time on it right now. I feel winter coming.

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