How to make it as a ski bum - Aleksander Aurdal

November 19, 2015 by Iselin Næss

These days you don´t see him trying to sneak into ski resorts, or eating leftovers from stranger´s plates. Maybe he never did, but he did do a lot of skiing before he got paid to do it. A "ski bum" is American slang for a skiing enthusiast who works at ski resorts in exchange free skiing time. In Scandinavia the definition has evolved, and is now often used to describe skiing enthusiast who works as much as possible during the off-season, and spends the whole winter traveling and skiing. In that light, we can safely say that Aleksander Aurdal used to be a ski bum. As a professional skier riding for the Norwegian national ski team, his ski bum bonus card just got upgraded to gold edition. We had a chat with the freestyle skier to see if he remembered some of his old tricks to make it as a ski bum.

You need to go somewhere where you´ll meet like-minded skiers and live out your ski bum fantasies to the maximum. Where do you go?

If you like park skiing, I would go to Colorado. There are a lot of sick parks around that area. If you want to get after powder, go to the Alps with your camper van and drive after the snow.

As a freshly minted ski bum it can be tempting to want to check out all the places you´ve heard about. Should you?

If you´re there for park skiing, stay put. When you stick to one park for a while, you get to know everything about it; the speed for the jumps, how the rails feel etc. Why run away from a great park? If you´re skiing powder however, I would travel after the snow. There´s nothing worse than crappy snow for a powder junkie!

Travel costs are the worst for every ski bum out there; What is the best way to minimize them?

Find cheap flights and travel with friends as often as you can. That way you can split costs which always helps. Also consider driving instead of flying. It can be more practical when you´ve reached your destination as well.

Sure some ski bums wing it and end up sleeping in their ski bag; Is there a better option?

Pack 5-6 friends in one hotel room, or 10 people in a 5-person apartment.

Do ski bums really only live off air and frozen water?

Make your own food! Going out for food can be a real money-drainer.

What about ski passes? Any tricks up your sleeve?

Send emails and offer something to the resort you´re going to - like short edits, pictures or other content that can boost their marketing. It also helps to have a good friend with a name in the game when it comes to ski passes.

Do you spend money on anything else during a season of ski bumming?

I´ve not really been ski bumming the last 7-8 years, but I remember that most of my money went on food and hotels. An unexpected cost can ruin a trip really fast so be prepared and don´t waste money on unnecessary stuff. Never say no to a free meal!

What is a good seasonal job that pays enough to get your through the winter?

When I quit school, I started working as a ramp-worker at Gardermoen Airport in Oslo, packing planes and preparing them for take off. I made a good amount of money. Good enough to live off for 5-6 months while I tried to make a name for myself.

I remember that I felt really free. Nothing held me back and I could do whatever I wanted. You don´t have to answer to anyone and can ski what and when you want. That´s a great feeling.
{ Aleksander Aurdal }

Any special ski bum deals when it comes to equipment?

Yet again, it helps with a friend in the game. You need to hook up with someone working in a ski shop, or start to work there yourself. Another option is to buy used gear, or put up your brightest smile and ask for some sponsored goods.

What´s the best part about life as a ski-bum?

I remember that I felt really free. Nothing held me back and I could do whatever I wanted. You don´t have to answer to anyone and can ski what and when you want. That´s a great feeling.

What´s the worst part of the ski-bum lifestyle?

I guess being broke all the time since the ski bum business isn´t the most lucrative out there. Why not try to make it as a pro? It´s a whole lot better, believe me!