Chile: Chasing Winter

Why put in overtime in ski boots when you could be in flip-flops? Because, if you’re a ski instructor, it means getting paid to ski in mind-blowing places like Portillo.

From SnoWorld #69 - Photos Courtesy of Jeff Wright


Professional ski and snowboard instructors Francesca Pavillard-Cain and Brennan Metzler are snowbirds – they fly south for the North American winter to work and ski. They could head to a number of Southern Hemisphere ski resorts, but not many offer the same perks as Portillo: a breathtaking setting, serious terrain, and nearby heli-ops such as Powder South Heliski Guides that will get you to the top of the Andes lickety-split.

THE OG

Portillo is the oldest ski area in South America. Engineers who helped build the Transandean Railway more than 100 years ago introduced the sport by using skis to get around their job site -what is now the base of Ski Portillo. The hotel sits on the shores of Laguna Del Inca with ski-in/ski-out access to 1,253 acres of skiable terrain. Learn more at skiportillo.com

THE APPROACH

Ski Portillo is a two-hour drive from Santiago Airport. The easiest and most convenient way to the resort is via the Portillo Tours shuttle service.

EXPLORE IN STYLE

Adventure and comfort don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Book a unique package with Powder South (heliskiguides.com) and you can stay at a five-star hotel in Santiago, then board your bird from the rooftop for a day of adventure skiing in the Andes.

Metzler takes a moment to appreciate the beauty and size of the surrounding peaks of the Andes; Pavillard-Cain and Metzler scope their line after getting a lift from Powder South Heliski Guides

One word comes to mind when you stare up at the Andes: impressive. The mountains rise dramatically to an intimidating height, providing seemingly endless ski lines: Ski Portillo has been nicknamed the Cruise Ship of the Andes both for its perch on the Laguna del Inca as well as the hotel’s all-inclusive offerings. Eat, sleep, dance, drink, swim, and play under one roof, then walk out the door to hit the slopes: Portillo’s ski school director Robin Barnes leads a training run.

 


Q & A : Francesca Pavillard-Cain 

She may be a newcomer to the Warren Miller party, but Pavillard-Cain has already been arund the world on skis. The big mountain skier ranked fifth in the world in the 2015 FWT circuit and is now taking a break from the competition scene to hone her skills as a professional ski instructor. Her current gig: chasing #neversummer as an instructor at Ski Portillo and the Yellowstone Club. 

I started as a ski instructor when I was 16. "It was a great winter vacation job to make some money, and from there I just slipped right into the ski instruction scene, which is easy to do. After high school I spent a gap year instructing in Leysin, Switzerland. That was a challenging experience because I was teaching in multiple languages."

 

When you grow up as a skier, you just ski. "You don’t really think about the technical side of it. When you become an instructor, you work on the fundamentals and technical aspects to better understand what it is you’re doing when you’re skiing. That was an “aha” moment for me, realizing that instruction not only helped me understand the sport better but also made me a better skier – because I could apply everything I was learning to my own skiing."

Honestly, I never thought that WME would be the film that I’d be in. "The opportunity came out of the blue. My mom’s family grew up watching WME movies because my grandfather was a huge fan, so the films played a big part in my life as well. My aunts and uncles are crazy excited that I’m in this year’s film."