He found out what he did best, then turned it into a career

By ALEX BELD - Daily News

July 28, 2017

Kyle Martola, manager of Ausblick Ski Club in Sussex, poses for a photo with the lodge behind him at the club Tuesday afternoon. Martola has been in the ski industry for nearly 12 years with working the past three at Ausblick.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Kyle Martola has been riding a snowboard since he was 10. By the time he was 17 he was working for the terrain park at Sunburst Ski Area in Kewaskum.

What started as riding in the backyard with neighbors eventually turned into a job. Before his hobby turned into a job, he was competing and riding at local ski areas — and he’s now been in more than 150 events.

“That’s what kind of got me to the driver’s seat,” Martola said. He also said when he first started “all I cared about was what we were going to ride.”

Since making a career out of working in the industry he hasn’t been able to ride the 200 days a year he used to, but he has been able to find work he’s passionate about.

A desire to improve the offerings at terrain parks was a large part of what drew him to work in the industry. And by age 23 he was named among the top 10 up and comers younger than 30 by Ski Area Management Magazine.

He earned this recognition during his 10-year tenure at Sunburst. During those same years he spent four summers in Oregon and brought ideas back for the park from Mt. Hood.

Martola said he could have stayed in Oregon, but a mixture of being a homebody and having pride in Wisconsin has kept him in the area.

He feels his work in the area has helped to elevate standards at parks in nearby ski areas.

Now, at 28, Martola has left the public ski area scene and works as the mountain operations manager at Ausblick Ski Hill in Sussex. The private club has the same amenities you’d see at a public hill, including a chair lift and snow guns.

Martola now oversees all these aspects of the hill rather than just a terrain park.

“There’s a lot of things that you come across working in the ski industry,” Martola said. One area he didn’t think of as he got started, but now considers often is risk management.

He’s also recently been challenged by the weather the past two seasons and with increased pumping capacity at Ausblick, he hopes to take on the warm spells and rain with greater success if they return for a third year.

No matter the weather, one thing he can continue to do is influence friends and young riders who visit the hill where he works.

He said he works to show them a different path in riding — one that involves a career. This could be a career like his at a ski area or elsewhere in the industry as a brand rep or even a pro rider.

Martola has already watched some of the riders he’s been around and influenced make their way to the X Games.