This never-summer couple chases winter across the globe

PARK CITY, Utah — For almost the last 30 years, “never summerers” Australian native Michael Whitnall and his wife, Canadian native Shelagh Moore, have been swapping hemispheres to work at Deer Valley in the winters and ski resorts in Australia during its winters.

Most of Whitnall’s tenure at Deer Valley has been as a Ski School Manager, while Moore is a sought-after ski instructor. They reminisce on their start in the ski industry that got the stoke started, saying, “On Deer Valley’s opening weekend our first year, we skied waist-deep powder. It was awesome!” 

Down under, their resort is Charlotte Pass. Most of the 100 employees at Charlotte Pass wear different hats, so it wasn’t unusual that before elevating his career to the title of Resort Manager, Whitnall worked as a Ski Instructor, Ski School Director, Assistant Resort Manager, and On-Snow Operations Manager.

The couple lives, works, and plays in back-to-back winter seasons on the different continents together. They met when Charlotte Pass had an instructor exchange program with Silver Star Ski Resort in British Columbia, Canada. Moore was chosen that year to represent Silver Star on the exchange for the Australian winter. She has worked as a ski instructor in Australia and at Deer Valley ever since.

Deer Valley and Charlotte Pass have a few things in common. In the early 1900s, European miners started coming to the Aussie area to vacation and ski with their family and friends, not too unlike American miners that established the Deer Valley area. The socio-economic demographic of the guests is rather similar as well. “Skiing is expensive in Australia,” Whitnall said, “just as it is in the U.S.”

The differences between the resorts include the fact that Charlotte Pass has scarcely more than 100 acres of skiable terrain as compared to Deer Valley’s over 2,000.

Charlotte Pass has one chair lift, two Poma lifts, one T-bar, and a conveyor to Deer Valley’s 21 lifts. It’s an isolated village during the winter, and the only access is via over-snow transport from nearly six miles away. The guests at Charlotte Pass are mainly Australians. They come from all parts of the country, although the majority drive from Sydney, a distance of approximately 400 miles.

The couple currently owns a home in Utah, and they have had roommates over the years that would look after the house whilst in Australia. Charlotte Pass provided them and all employees with housing. This was mainly due to the isolated geographical location of the Resort and the manner in which the Resort operated due to its location.

“After winning the Diversity Visa Lottery and obtaining our US Green Card, we stopped working the winter seasons in Australia and started spending more of the summer in Utah,” Whitnall said.

They credit their career longevity to their love of skiing, the enjoyment, and the personal satisfaction found in teaching people to ski, helping them overcome their fears, and achieving goals that they never thought possible. They also have a passion for traveling, seeing new places, and meeting different people. The ski industry offers them the ideal opportunity to combine their passions and their goals. 

“Even though I have been involved in the ski industry for 33 years (completing 49 winter seasons over that period), the years have flown by. I attribute that to the satisfaction I get out of the work itself. I enjoy helping other people, navigating a pathway for themselves in a continually evolving industry. I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my beautiful wife, my best friend, and most importantly, my voice of reason, Shelagh Moore.”

He went on to say, “I am also very grateful for the trust and the commitment of industry leaders and the support my coworkers have shown me. There are many people that have facilitated my journey.”

Whitnall expressed enormous respect for the former and current owners of both resorts, as well as the management and leadership teams, for trusting and supporting him and continuing to do so. 

Some of the staff they worked with at Charlotte Pass followed the two to Deer Valley, and some still work at Deer Valley. Other colleagues and their families continue to come and stay with them and ski at Deer Valley. Over the years, many of the guests from Charlotte Pass have traveled to Deer Valley and Utah to ski. Some of the guests they met at Charlotte Pass have become very close friends, and they return to Deer Valley on a regular basis to ski. Friends and colleagues from Deer Valley have also visited them in Australia.

During the years they worked back-to-back winters, they didn’t miss summer much at all. Of late, they’ve spent more time in the U.S. and in Canada during the summer. They don’t necessarily enjoy the hot days of summer and crowds, so they try to avoid travel in summer anyway. 

They say they never get tired of skiing and look forward to status-quo work at Deer Valley for what could be the next 30 years.

“I enjoy being in the ski industry. Meeting different people from many different walks of life from all over the world is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” Moore said. “The wonderful, lifelong friends Michael and I have made as a result of being in multiple resorts are very much appreciated. 

When asked about their favorite season, the response was spring, and they’re quick to declare that when you work in two hemispheres, you get two of them a year.

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