JSC alum manages Jay Peak’s terrain park


Ian Major

Nick Ruschmeyer

With the low light and brisk temperature that come with a typical New England winter morning, you will find yourself picking up on the scent of burning diesel fuel and the distant roars of snow cats preforming final trail preparations for the day at ski resorts across Vermont.

2012 Johnson State College graduate Nick Ruschmeyer is working his second winter season as the terrain parks manager for Jay Peak Resort, where he is up bright and early each day to perform the grooming for the resort’s parks.

With his original roots in Brookfield, Connecticut, Ruschmeyer says that he can easily call Vermont a second home. Ruschmeyer is 26 years old, and graduated from JSC with a B.A. in outdoor education and adventure leadership.

Being able to pass along, teach, and share his own experiences and passions with people so that they can hopefully find as much joy in them as he does is Ruschmeyer’s overall goal with any of his work, especially during his time managing Jay’s parks.

“Whether its skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, grooming, or guiding, the main thing is to always just enjoy life,” says Ruschmeyer. “I always do my best to try to take away something from each situation I’m in and whatever knowledge might be presented, because each situation is different and you can always learn something from everything and then pass that along.”

Prior to his time at JSC, Ruschmeyer got one of his starts at sharing his passions when he was involved with teaching martial arts at an early age. Ruschmeyer used to compete for international competitions, and was training for national competitions prior to college.

Jay Peak Resort has played a large role in Ruschmeyer’s life and passions since his sophomore year at JSC. He has been working seasonally at the resort every winter since. Ruschmeyer has worked in many departments, ranging from bussing tables at Alice’s Table, to helping with ski patrol, teaching skiing and snowboarding for the ski and ride school, and working many hours with the park crew.

The terrain park crew has always been one of the main parts of Ruschmeyer’s Jay Peak experience, and he noted that he loves what he does. Ruschmeyer worked his way up from hand crew, to grooming, then to managing for the parks. “I wake up every day and come to work never really regretting what I do, so it’s pretty great,” he says.

Starting his day around 3:00 a.m., Ruschmeyer puts on his work boots, coat, and gloves as he heads to work to start grooming the ski and ride school learning terrain and terrain parks. Around 7:00 a.m., he receives a call from the hand crew so he can let them know what he wants done in the morning, and to make sure that they have everything they need to get going on the day’s tasks. Ruschmeyer says that he then meets up with them for a quick meeting, discussing other tasks that he wants to see get done for the day and talking about upcoming terrain park events and how they can prepare for them.

Along with the daily tasks, Ruschmeyer says that the terrain park crew members will often go through trainings whenever they get a chance, so they can go over certain accidents or incidents that may take place. He noted that he also helps out with a lot of lift evacuation trainings when he can. “I enjoy the rope work, as I can relate it to rock climbing,” says Ruschmeyer.

Ultimately, the main day-to-day reward for Ruschmeyer is the snowboarding. “When I wake up each day, I always anticipate hopping on my board and testing the product,” he says.

Ruschmeyer ended up in northern Vermont for two main reasons, the easy access to local ski resorts like Jay Peak, Stowe, and Smugglers’ Notch, and JSC’s outdoor education program. After learning more about the programs at JSC, Ruschmeyer told himself that the outdoor education program sounded like something he could relate to. “I love the outdoors, camping, hiking, leadership, and teaching,” says Ruschmeyer.

According to Ruschmeyer, his time at JSC can be considered the best time of his life so far. “Now that I look back to my time at JSC, it was a pretty amazing overall experience,” says Ruschmeyer. “I met some of the best lifelong friends. We had a blast and lived each day as it came, doing a lot of really cool stuff.”

Ruschmeyer ended up hearing about JSC from his mother, who told him he might be interested in the outdoor education program. “I was looking into going to a trade school because that’s what I wanted to do,” says Ruschmeyer. “I never thought I would actually go to college, but after being at JSC I wound up falling in love with it.”

During the summer prior to his sophomore year, Ruschmeyer was diagnosed with ocular melanoma. “It was life changing, and something like that definitely changes your perspective on day-to-day life and what it’s really worth,” says Ruschmeyer.

Ruschmeyer had an eye removed at the end of his sophomore year. After being clear for a year it came back in his lungs. When he was going into his senior year at JSC, Ruschmeyer had an additional surgery to remove part of his lung. Since his last surgery, the road has been clear.

Once you have spent enough time with and around Ruschmeyer, it is very evident that his past surgeries don’t slow him down at all. His snowboarding can easily be looked at as being at a high level, along with his precision grooming in and around the resorts learning terrain and terrain parks.

Ruschmeyer says that he just tries to stay positive. “I’ve had great support all along the way, and Johnson and Jay have been a great part of it,” he says. “I think these communities are unlike anything else, in a good way.”

During his time at JSC, Ruschmeyer was highly involved with the campus’s recreational opportunities, as he participated in the ski and snowboard club along with the ultimate Frisbee and outing clubs. Ruschmeyer says that he used to spend quite a bit of time at the climbing wall too.

When Ruschmeyer graduated in the spring of 2012, he went to Maine, for both work and internship purposes. He worked as a mountain guide for Acadia National Park that summer as his internship.

Ruschmeyer is now living in Westfield, Vermont. As far as his future goes, he noted that he doesn’t really know what to expect. He mentioned that he would like to possibly start a guide program at Jay, which has been talked about. “I want to continue to pursue what I studied at JSC, and I want to try to further my level as a guide,” says Ruschmeyer. “I try to take things one day at a time and love life.”