Guest Services at FAR

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Unsung Heroes, as we’re constantly reminded, are located in every nook and cranny of Fernie. each with a story to tell, a secret to share and an achievement that generally goes unnoticed. And Augusts’ Unsung Hero is no different. Invariably she is located at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) - in fact invariable is putting it mildly, as she is there far beyond hours of operation. She is a pivotal and year round staff member who has made endless changes and improvements, resulting in numerous respecting colleagues during her time with FAR. Yet only a few people know what exactly falls on her shoulders. Perhaps this low-key characteristic is what makes Wendy LeMoine, Director of FAR Winter Sports School & Guest Services, who she is…

How many years have you been with FAR?
“This is my 14th year”. At this, Wendy’s face tells a story – those 14 years have flown by apparently. And with it a whole host of changes and developments I learn.

How does summer differ from Winter at FAR for you?
“In Summer I’m the Summer Operations Manager…as well as the Landscaping Queen,” she laughs. It seems summer calls for co-ordination of fewer staff, yet many more departments, with fewer managers to assist. A smaller crew, yet a service that has high demands and which becomes all too easily comparable to winter. A tough challenge indeed.

What developments have been made this summer?
“We’ve added Friday night biking which I think means a lot to people.” Since cutting back hours last season, this new addition meets many Monday to Friday locals’ needs, allowing them to bike after work two nights a week and all weekend – a perfect compromise to suit all.

“And we’ve added a new easy route from the top of the Elk Chair,” allowing the young and the newbie’s (two eager yet previously over-paced groups) to “enjoy singletrack with great tread through the old growth cedars at an easy pitch.” Switch out rocky access road for great “flow, trees and fun,” smiles Wendy. She’s experienced trying to get a young persistent kid down the access road in the past – this will make a huge difference to parents!

Landscaping, Wendy’s unbeknown additional summer task, has also stepped up its game. 40,000 sq ft of sod has been laid, “from the bottom of Timber, down to the Wolf’s Den and the Mountain Pantry and across to the Deer Chair.” As well as “dust sealing” the parking lot and reinstating the once functioning summer irrigation set-up via the snowmaking system. Gravity fed, easy to operate irrigation - Whistler eat your heart out. And for the slower paced, aesthetically minded hikers and families enjoying FAR’s summer program, $70,000 has gone into landscaping and gardening. Perhaps unnoticed by the breakneck speed bikers, but appreciated by those on foot – the other clientele enjoying FAR’s summer operations.

What else is going on up at FAR right now?
The Trail Crew. Those fantastic glades and new pitches don’t appear out of nowhere. Instead, throughout the summer season, the team is prepping ahead of the imminent winter – slope maintenance and improvement, avalanche control and terrain modification. All important and invaluable, yet why not promoted? “I’m not sure why we don’t blow our own horn. But it happens. Lots of effort goes into our winter program,” says Wendy with a shy, unpretentious shrug. I guess these sort of positive moves don’t appear in online blogs.

What would you like to see change in Fernie over the next ten years?
“To see the community look after its people. Visitors will come because of our sense of pride.” Along with continuous involvement from Council, Tourism Fernie, the DMO and the Chamber of Commerce to ensure we’re all heading “in the same direction and as a team.” And from a FAR’s perspective? “Our Community Summit Fund,” which shall continue to support local community by providing cash grants to a number of local causes and initiatives. Wendy believes we’re getting there, but it’s up to the City and its residents, collectively, to decide “what we want to be” as a whole. Only then can Fernie come together and be the place that residents, visitors and critiques alike have visions of it becoming.

The Elk Chair is open Thurs & Fri 10am – 7pm, Sat, Sun & Holidays 10am – 4.30pm. Timber is open Sat, Sun & Holidays 10am – 4.00pm. For more info on bike rentals, hikes and events, check out www.skifernie.com/summer.