Mount Washington Alpine Resort | Snowboarder

Find out why Zoë Cooper doesn't want to leave Vancouver Island

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A visit to Canada has turned into a five-year stay for Zoë Cooper from Sydney. The 33-year-old Marketing Coordinator didn’t intend on staying in Canada for that long. Actually, she had never even set foot in snow before moving to Canada. Of course, living in Canada and working at a ski resort, especially one as beautiful as Mount Washington Alpine Resort, provided Zoë a great reason to stay.

Now an intermediate snowboarder (she learnt to snowboard when she moved to Canada), Zoë is planning on learning skiing in Canada as well. She says Canada feels so much like home she doesn’t want to leave. 

For more about Canada read:

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

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The white beauty of Mount Washington Ski Resort is a balm for the soul. Photo: Kyle Hansen
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Ghost trees at Mount Washington Ski Resort are stunning to see.

We caught up with Zoë to find out more about Mount Washington and Vancouver Island in Canada.

Do you miss vegemite?

Nope. You can get it over here!

A typical day at Mount Washington Ski Resort

I usually catch up with the marketing team to make sure we’re all on track for our current campaign.

This involves liaising with our sponsors regarding cross-promotional ventures, lots of emails, phone calls, spreadsheets and a ride break or two to remind myself why I’m here!

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Oh, what a feeling at Mount Washington Ski Resort. Photo: Brady Clarke

Why live in Canada?

The Canadian landscape and lifestyle had appealed to me for a long time. I felt drawn to the mountains, snow and freshwater lakes.

I didn’t know very much about Vancouver Island (and didn’t realise there were so many things to do on Vancouver Island), much less the small village of Cumberland where I now live.

However, my sister was (and still is) living on Vancouver Island so I didn’t think too much about it.

I just wanted to be in Canada with her.

I moved from an inner-city suburb of Sydney to a tiny mountain town on the other side of the world, just like that.

I had intended to live and work only a year or two, but I never left, so here I am five years later.

Mount Washington is our local ski hill and it has a lovely community of locals who have been skiing here their entire lives, as well as plenty of foreign workers who choose to return season after season.

Where to stay?

Check out accommodation at Mount Washington here

Read about the 10 best resorts on Vancouver Island

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Learning to ski is fun at Mount Washington Ski Resort. Photo: Brady Clarke

I Mount Washington Ski Resort because..

There’s a sense of leaving life’s troubles behind when out on the hill, and when conditions are particularly great, the energy is amazing.

The fact that I get to go out riding every day is also excellent.

I get to promote a sport and lifestyle that I love and that means a lot to me.

It also means a lot to many on the island.

I’m surrounded by people at their best, people who are here to have fun.

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Skiing through the trees at Mount Washington Ski Resort.

The challenges of living at Mount Washington are:

Learning the sport and the culture that goes with it!

My team has lived and breathed the ski culture since they were small, so there has been a bit of a learning curve for me.

I tried skate skiing this winter and it was a lot harder than I thought but I’d like to keep trying.

It’s supposed to be really fun and great exercise once you get the hang of it.

It can also be pretty tough working in an industry that is so weather-dependant.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we do; if it doesn’t snow enough, we can’t operate.

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Blue skies at Mount Washington Ski Resort.

Why Mount Washington?

The mountain ranges in Canada are stunning. But our resort has the distinction of being on an island in the Pacific, so the alpine-to-ocean views are quite unique.

The things I love most are the friendly community, the alpine-to-ocean views and the people I work with. 

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There’s plenty of skiable terrain at Mount Washington Ski Resort.
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A fabulous day on the snow at Mount Washington Ski Resort. Photo: Kyle Hansen

Is it cold at Mount Washington Ski Resort?

Not if you’re dressed properly.

It took me a little while to learn how to dress properly and I still get it wrong sometimes! But as long as you’re properly attired, you learn to enjoy the cold.

It brings good things like snow, winter festivals and frozen lakes to skate on among the many things to do in Canada. 

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Having a laugh at Mount Washington Ski Resort.

Has your family visited?

My parents visit each year, usually in the summer, but this year they chose to visit in the winter.

They got to experience a white Christmas, which was pretty special.

I also brought them up snowshoeing in our Nordic area which was definitely a highlight for them.

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Mount Washington Ski Resort is a white winter wonderland on Vancouver Island. Photo: Kyle Hansen

In my free time..

I go trail running in the beautiful forest that’s right behind my house, swimming in freshwater lakes and waterfalls, canoeing and camping on remote beaches. 

Three things I’ll miss most about Canada

The friendly community. The alpine-to-ocean view. The people I work with.

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It doesn’t look like I am ever coming home!

My heart is now in two places and I’d be homesick either way. 

Zoë’s tips: 

  • Vancouver Island has temperate weather and a lot of variety.
  • On the southern tip is British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, a small and beautiful harbour city.
  • The further north you venture, the more remote it becomes, with rugged and remote beaches to the west. Vancouver Island has it all.
  • There are plenty of things to see on Vancouver Island all year round. Telegraph Cove is a charming seaside village with a delightfully local vibe. From here, you can go on orca-watching tours or bear-spotting tours. 

For more attractions in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island read:

Mount Washington Alpine Resort