AFTER 13 YEARS OF HOSTING THIS CONTEST, WE CONTINUE TO BE AMAZED BY THE RANGE OF CREATIVE FEATURES AND EVENTS BUILDERS AND ORGANIZERS DREAM UP. WE RECEIVED DOZENS OF ENTRIES THIS YEAR, FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA AND AROUND THE GLOBE. WE HOPE THIS YEAR’S COLLECTION INSPIRE MORE PROGRESSION IN DESIGN AND EVENTS THIS COMING WINTER.
CHECK OUT THE ENTRIES AND THEN VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE. THE TOP CHOICE FROM BOTH THE FEATURE CATEGORY AND EVENT CATEGORY WILL RECEIVE A GENEROUS GOODIE BAG FROM BURTON SNOWBOARDS, AND BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR THE YEAR.
1. Feel the Push and Pull
This multi-hit feature was designed and built for the filming of Magnetic, Whistler’s first-ever, full-length ski and snowboard film. The team at Whistler Blackcomb, B.C., decided the film needed a hip-type feature and let builder Ty Weed run with it. The feature has a 70-foot middle jump, 40-foot-wide channel jump, and 75-foot hips with 55-degree takeoffs. The feature took seven full days to build before filming. Photo: Robin O'Neill Video: (Magnetic Trailer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4yK1w4q3GU
2. SAVE THE WHALE TALE
Terrain Park Takeover Tuesday (TPTT) has been part of the vernacular at Sierra-at-Tahoe, Calif., for a few years. But in the 2016-17 season, the team at Sierra got the ski and ride community involved in the design of the park. The area kicked off the season with a bi-weekly invitation for submissions of TPTT feature designs, and selected the winner in January. The feature, with a step-up butter pad to a whale’s tail into a hip, was submitted by Alec Bowman. The park crew invited Alec to come join them in the build, experience what it’s like to be a member of the Sierra park team, and take a design from idea to finished product. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4yK1w4q3GU
3. Late-Night Leftovers
The crew at Sun Valley, Idaho got a bit creative with some leftover features last winter. The team took four, 4 foot x 4 foot cubes that were originally part of the GoPro “Out of the Box” competition, cut the cubes in half horizontally, reframed the bottoms, and staggered them to ten-inch stair heights. That created two 16-foot-long stair sets. While usually set up side-by-side, the team set them up one after another and paired them with a 40-foot round bar for this urban-rail-style setup.
You wouldn’t think crashing Santa’s Sleigh would be a recipe for success, but the Windham Mountain, N.Y., crew decided to build on last year’s Nightmare Before Christmas event with a themed feature. “We crashed Santa at the drawing session and started laughing pretty hard. We knew we were onto something,” says park manager Keith Kreischer. The sleigh is 24 feet long, with two double slide rails. The sleigh itself is covered in a top sheet, giving athletes two creeper options on the outside of the sleigh or on the wide box in the center. The lower sides were banked to allow for rideability all the way around. The feature made its debut at the Nightmare Before Christmas event and remained in the park for the rest of the season.
5. Junkyard Dog
We all know a kid who can find fun anywhere. Josh Bremer from Whitecap Mountain, Wis., is no exception. As a volunteer, Bremer has no budget for feature builds, so he has to get creative. Salvaging posts and 4x4s from a junkyard, he spliced the logs into a smooth joint to create a flat-to-launch rail. Another found treasure: a large barrel ride was added at the termination of the rail for an extra bit of fun.
6. Ninja Walk
The Ninja Walk was designed and built at Area 51s in Japan for a local slopestyle event. The feature was inspired by “NINJAYA,” which we’ve all seen in movies when a ninja runs on a narrow roof and leaps onto a steep roof. To mimic this action, the combo feature includes a flat-down banked box and a transfer rainbow box. The setup took just two hours of cat time to put together.
7. What the Bonk!
The team at Burke Mountain, Vt., did a little salvaging and put together a propane tank bonk, which quickly became a park favorite. The tank, mounted on a post, sits about five feet off the ground, in normal conditions. Cut into the side of a hip-style jump, it gives riders the option of going up over the top or bonking the tank from the side, making it approachable for all levels of riders. The post itself has a bit of flex to it, making this feature very multi-dimensional.
8. Wally World
This A-frame wall ride was built in-house at Chestnut Mountain, Ill., for the 2016-17 season. The wall’s expanded metal surface makes for a lightweight sliding surface that can be moved with the forks on the blade of a cat. As a bonus, the operator moving the feature can see through it. Usually set up at the bottom of the rail park, the crew at Chestnut decided to mix it up and placed it in the main park, with five distinct lines leading to it.
9. Frozen Humpback
Sometimes, the coolest features at Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire aren’t the monster jumps, gnarliest rails, or most creative designs. Sometimes, all you need is an icy East Coast day, a busy snowgun, and a group of friends to get creative on a “man made” feature. Hand plants on frozen snow ensued. During the 2016-17 season, Kade Colen, Brandon Reis, and the crew sessioned the wheels off this frozen whaleback in Crotched’s Zero G Park. Photo: Kade Colen.
10. The Baker’s Dozen
During the 2016-17 winter season, the team at Grouse Mountain, B.C., worked with Mark McMorris and Seb Toutant to bring to life their ideas for a course designed around technical features, not technical tricks. The result was Red Bull Uncorked. A key feature on the course was The Baker’s Dozen, a center step-over jump with banked walls, giving riders three different takeoff options. With 20-foot gaps to the 16-foot-tall pads, and a 40-foot middle takeoff that sailed over a 20-foot gap to the knuckle, riders were flying at Grouse. Including Baker’s Dozen, the course took 260 hours of work to complete, moving some of the 600cm (235 in.) of natural snow received last winter and supplementing with another 30 acre-feet of snowmaking. https://www.redbull.com/ca-en/red-bull-uncorked
11. Vista Quarters
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Mt. Hood Meadows didn’t think so, and took advantage of the excessive snowfall last season to create the Vista Quarters. Using an 18-foot Zaugg, the Meadows crew cut transitions into the massive 70-foot-tall snow drift that developed down the riders’ right side of the Vista Park. According to park manager T.J. Moloney, the best part about these features was they allowed the team to maintain proper chairlift clearance on the quad that runs through the middle of the park, and also created a great vantage point for non-park riders.
12. Au Natural
What a difference an epic snow year makes. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows received more than 700 inches of snow last season. That abundance allowed the park crew to build out the parks to their heart’s content. The return of the Mainline jumps was one thing, but the hulking 22-foot superpipe was an even bigger deal. As one of only two superpipes in California, it was shredded daily by pros and locals alike. The pipe took 12 days to complete. The most impressive part? It was built entirely out of natural snow that the crew farmed from the surrounding area.
1. Bode Merrill Quarterpipe Classic
The inaugural Bode Merrill Quarterpipe Classic is a continuation of the pro snowboarder’s long-running Merrill Minipipe Invitational at High Cascade Snowboard Camp. The contest itself is pretty straightforward: hit the quarterpipe and do whatever you can to impress the judges. The feature itself took some work: about a week for the 15-20 park crew, cat crew, and volunteers to sculpt the quarterpipe and the two tombstone extensions on either side. The cat crew pushed out the basic shape, and stepped out into platforms on the transition side. From there, since Brighton no longer has a pipecutter, the park crew filled in the gaps in the steps by hand to build the transition. Roughly 150 amateur and pro riders took part. Photo: Tom Monterosso | Rider: Hans Mindnich (2nd place in the event) Video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=zs6Troa6YYI
2. Holy Bowl-EH?
The Holy Bowly (aka, Holy Bowl-eh?) is an international gathering of creativity and flow. This weeklong session is the brainchild of Snowboy Productions’ Krush Kulesza. Two hundred of the best riders from around the world are invited to come get creative on the half-kilometer-long course (which graces the cover of the November issue). Builders from Sunshine Village and Arena Snowparks spent eight days sculpting it. With the sheer size of the build and the amount of hand maintained features, all riders, media, and staff spent an hour following each day’s session doing hand maintenance on the course. The course was open to the public for an additional week after the event was over, so guests could ride the same features as the pros. Photo: Rob Lemay. Video: https://vimeo.com/215585579
3. Girls Rock the Park!
The future is female at Ski Sundown, Conn., thanks to the annual Girls Rock the Park event. Open to girls ages 8 and up, the event is designed to develop safe and confident park enthusiasts, and welcome more girls into the parks. Last year, the Ski Sundown park crew and freestyle coaches provided demos and instruction to about 35 participants on a small progression park with two boxes and a jump designated for the event. Cost to participate was only $5. Last season was the event’s fourth year, and it has been so successful that Sundown started a lesson program of the same name. Video: https://vimeo.com/209571339
Presented by Airblaster and orchestrated by Snowboy Productions, SKØLF combined the games of S-K-A-T-E and golf into a two-day tournament on the slopes of Loon Mountain, N.H. The course consisted of 18 holes, all built and designed by Loon. Each involved an awkwardly creative feature that challenged riders to perform a particular trick, and a “par” set for number tries it should take to complete that trick. Features included snow cliff drops, jumps amid mogul fields, and even a traditional miniature golf hole—except competitors used their snowboards as putters. On day two, like any traditional golf tournament, the holes were altered to add more difficulty: tricks got harder, pars were lowered, and the jump in the mogul field was now a street-style down rail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr10rpT5k1k
5. Frosted Fatty
The Frosted Fatty at Spirit Mountain, Minn., pits skiers against snowboarders against mountain bikers—yes, bikers—on a 600-foot-long dual slalom course. “The idea of putting all three disciplines together came from the fact that we include these disciplines in our winter operations, and who doesn’t want a king of the hill race?” says Jon Regenold, Spirit’s action sports and events manager. The build took roughly three days of work between cat operators, Spirit park crew, the bike trail lead, and community volunteers. Roughly 60 racers participated in the bracket-style format, with a fairly even mix between the sports. https://youtu.be/5yywoLdA8N8
6. One Hit Wonder
The team at Thredbo in Australia isn’t afraid of a little snow, but when the Blizzard of Oz 2.0 buried its 100-foot booter, 50-foot mini booter, and hand-shaped minipipe, the crew had to pull out all the stops to ensure the One Hit Wonder took place. Two machines spent the first day post-storm clearing drifts from the decks. The next four days were spent grooming the run in, building the last takeoff, and sheer cutting the ways. Finally, a crew of 10 re-shaped the mini pipe by hand. Video: https://www.facebook.com/onehitwonderdu/videos/1473841909583863/
7. The Scott Delforte Park Jam
The 13th annual Scott Delforte Park Jam, hosted at Bristol Mountain, N.Y., raises money for the local school’s snowsports program—100 percent of the proceeds help pay for grade-school students to get out on snow. Since its inception, this fundraiser has paid for 335 students to ski and snowboard. The event is open to all age groups and skill levels. It takes about three days for roughly a dozen Bristol park crew and Scott Delforte Foundation staff to build the setup, which includes two 35-40-foot big air jumps (with smaller platforms on the side of each for beginners), and a rail garden that hosts a rail jam. Bristol Mountain park rangers award medals for biggest air and best trick. As many as 90 participants come out for the competition every year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ncrxr3edto
8. Sam Adams Air and Après
In an effort to bring park riding to the masses, Camelback Resort, Pa., teamed with Sam Adams and SOL Events to stage the Sam Adams Air and Après. “We wanted to create a show that all of our guests would enjoy, not just those who are already familiar with the terrain park world,” says events manager AJ Stack. Olympic bronze medalist Scotty Lago put together a team of riders who came in to hit a 110-foot big air jump covered in 3D projections. The projections were synced to music, using the snow as a screen to enhance the show. “It really took our whole team to pull this off,” says Stack. “It involved a lot of scaffolding, IT equipment, and some unique electricity needs.” Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2PEynVLyN8
The Avant-Ski event, now in its third year at Camp Fortune, Ontario, is an early season stoke-building event held before most areas are fully open. The invite-only competition features some of the best skiers and riders in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. The event featured two routes with two features each, to give athletes the opportunity to get creative. The 10-person park crew builds the course the day before and the morning of, to keep the layout a surprise. In addition to the competition, the halftime show is a rail jam featuring The Shred Queens, a community of girl skiers that collaborate with Camp Fortune to get more girls out to compete. Photos: Credit Josh Brose/Camp Fortune Video: https://vimeo.com/199716914 Credit: Ajax Visuals/Camp Fortune
10. Level 1 SuperUnknown
Sierra-at-Tahoe, Calif., hosted the Level 1 SuperUnknown presented by Newschoolers in April 2017. Since its inception in 2003, SuperUnknown has uncovered some of the most impressive up-and-coming ski talent across the world. This year, the event was hosted at Sierra, with competitions in Sierra’s terrain parks and in its iconic backcountry zone, Huckleberry Canyon. The competitors "sent it” for a week straight: the event showcased enormous tree stalls, countless spins, lofty inverts, and an undeniably higher ceiling for ski talent across the board. Skier and mountain met their match.
11. Expression Sessions
The Expression Sessions is a homegrown contest event series at Boreal Mountain Resort in Cali. Each installment of the three-event series takes place at night, a month apart, starting in December. The Boreal park crew designs and builds the course in the day leading up to the session. It takes up to six hours for a crew of one or two cat operators and up to four diggers to build the park, which usually includes 6-10 medium and large street-style, low-impact features. The venue entices participants to lap the course and find new and creative ways to make their way through it.
12. Peace Park Qualifier
Okemo, Vt., played host to the first-ever qualifier event for Danny Davis’ Peace Park—a unique, ever-evolving elite snowboard park that expands beyond the traditional competition-style courses. The qualifier gave roughly 30 amateur snowboarders the opportunity to earn a spot at the renowned Peace Park event last April. The Okemo Parks crew, in collaboration with Snow Park Technologies, constructed a highly progressive, flow-inspired course that encouraged participants to creatively choose their line. Danny himself judged the two-day contest, and awarded Luke Winkelmann the golden ticket, all expenses paid trip to Peace Park at Grand Targhee, Wyo.
13. Kaatskillz Pro-Am
Freestyle skiers and riders competed in the annual Kaatskillz pro-am event located on the main face of Hunter Mountain, N.Y., on Park Ave West. The event build took 8 to 10 days to complete, including additional snowmaking that needed to be done in the area. About 10 crewmembers worked on building the venue, which was comprised of skate-park inspired features including hips, bowls, and rails.
14. Ski The East Spring Shoot
With ample snow leftover in its T72 terrain park after closing day last season, Sunday River in Maine hosted the crew from Ski The East for a private spring shoot. The six-person Sunday River park crew spent two weeks pushing snow and hauling metal to create a massive 70-foot kicker and 11-feature rail park for the event. Features included a 35-foot flat-to-35-foot triple kink, one shooter tube into a wall ride, flat rail into a small, wide box landing, one extra-large tub, and more. The park was decorated with buoys, lobster traps, and even a rowboat to round out the Down East theme. Present were some of the East Coast's best athletes, including Émile Bergeron, Bobby Sullivan, Sawyer Sellingham, Nicky Hartmann, Jacob Belanger, and Tyler Duncan, along with the Les Khroniques du Québec crew.
15. 1817 Monday Minute
When pro snowboarder and native Minnesotan Joe Sexton and Co. were looking to partner with a Midwest resort to build a park around their brand, 1817, Buck Hill stepped up. The park was up all season, but for a full week last winter it was home to some big names filming for the “Monday Minute” video series, include Sexton, Jake OE, Lucas Magoon, and more. It took one full night for about five park staff and one cat driver to build the park for the weeklong event. They set a mix of down rails, boxes, a wall ride, and other street-oriented features. “We left the park open during the event and it was really cool to see kids interact with the pros, and see how the entire filming process happens,” says Buck Hill president and CEO David Solner.
No question, (relatively) inexpensive passes have become wildly popular over the past decade. Season passholders now account for roughly 40 percent of all visits. And it’s likely that no group of pass options have helped drive sales more than the four multi-pass collaborations shown here. They are a testament to both the ingenuity and cleverness of resort marketers and the highly competitive markeplace in which they find themselves.
While these groups have vastly altered the current ticket landscape, the giant question mark for the future is: how will the new Aspen Skiing Company/KSL conglomerate (see reports, pp. 18 and 77 for details) further alter the market? The various pieces of this new empire are now strewn across the Mountain Collective and M.A.X. passes. SkiCo and KSL talk glowingly of their present partnerships, but it makes too much sense for this group of 16 resorts to craft a pass product that can compete directly with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass. SkiCo and KSL could offer a compelling product for California downhillers, who comprise the largest market in the U.S. The company’s “local” areas—Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Mammoth, June, and Snow Summit/Bear Mountain—account for nearly half of the state’s skier/rider visits, and could offer great destinations on a shared pass—Aspen, Snowmass, and Steamboat especially.
Whatever SkiCo/KSL do in 2018-19, it’s likely that the other members of the Collective and M.A.X. pass will keep their programs alive—with or without the SkiCo/KSL resorts. Interesting times often lead to innovative thinking. And perhaps to even more new partnerships.
Joe Hession, Founder of SNOW Operating, 2011 SAMMY Winner
Where you were in your career when you won a SAMMY, and big moments since? I was the GM at Mountain Creek, N.J. One of the biggest moments of my career was deciding to leave the resort I called home for 16 years to found SNOW Operating. It's crazy to think that SNOW Operating is about to turn five years old with 38 resort partners. It's been a fun ride, but it's far shadowed by marrying our industry darling, Halley O'Brien. ;)
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business? The best day is working with the resorts’ teams and getting inspired by their innovation and creativity to drive results.
The worst days are when weather doesn’t cooperate and we don’t have enough snow to get the job done. Luckily, it looks like we won’t have to deal with that issue this season—TBL is fully built at every resort partner.
Who was/is a memorable mentor? I have been so lucky to work with so many amazing people. Charles Blier, Brian Fairbank, and Michael Berry, to name a few. But if I have to pick one, it would be Frank DeBerry. Frank taught me a lot about the business and life. But most importantly, he taught me that great leadership can change lives and that this business is really about the people—those we work with and the guests we serve.
Did you ever almost leave the industry, and why? Why did you stay? I did. I almost left to sell lighting and toilets online. Frank talked me out of it. Thank you again, Frank!
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be? Software development. Ever since we started SnowCloud™, I have been amazed about the opportunities and potential out there. Luckily, I still get to do this in the snow business.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket? I bought an Epic Pass a few years back at SIA. Seriously, it's an amazing deal. The way it breaks down over time, I still don’t feel like I’ve purchased a lift ticket.
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks? I try to stay with only one day, but it’s hard when I’m on the road traveling.
What’s the last thing you searched in Google? Road conditions on I-70. They’re shot, in case you are wondering.
Guilty pleasure? Starwood Hotels. (And the points. I love the points.)
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award? On my desk.
Thoughts on the future? I think we have a lot to do to shift our thinking about how we market, sell, and fulfill our product of skiing and snowboarding. We have some exciting years on the horizon and I’m looking forward to being a part of it all.
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business? My best day is anytime it’s cold, snowy, and the guests are having a good time. Worst day was the day the compressor building caught on fire. So many great days, I can’t pick one memorable one over the other. I have been fortunate to have a career in which 99 percent of the days are great ones.
Who was/is a memorable mentor? My first mentor was Greg Pier. My mentor today is Tony Waddell.
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be? If I worked in another industry I would like to run a manufacturing plant. I know this sounds crazy, but I like seeing stuff made.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket? I have only purchased one lift ticket in the last 30 years.
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks? I never wash my ski socks until spring.
What’s the last thing you searched in Google? The last thing I searched on Google was for metal working tools. Metalworking has become a hobby of mine.
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award? My SAMMY Award sits on the window ledge in my office at home.
Thoughts on the future? I think the future is bright for the ski industry. I hope we can get back to focusing on the skiing and less on real estate.
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Senior VP of Marketing, Sales, and Resort Experience 2000 SAMMY Winner
Where were you in your career when you won a SAMMY, and big moments since? It was such a super exciting time for me and the industry (2000). I was working on the first two large-scale re-development resort projects in North America—Kimberley Alpine Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort. Working with the community, team and guests to create a ski-in and ski-out village, new lifts, expanded terrain. Sharing these amazing stories about these incredible places and their meteoric rise to popularity, and the immense growth in visitation to the Powder Highway (famous for the largest density of ski resorts, cat skiing operations, ski touring lodges, and heli skiing in the world, and aptly known for the over 50 feet of snow a year!). Also, getting the green light for what was at the time the largest rural airport project, working with community leaders, provincial and federal government on a dream to create a gateway to the world, Canadian Rockies International, and starting the first non-stop flight program from a major U.S. city to a mountain runway in western Canada.
I am fortunate to have been involved in many important capital and tourism infrastructure projects. But the most important for me is sharing the incredible good times of the mountains with super-passionate people of each of our communities, amazing teams, and all of our guests.
When I won my SAMMY, I was very fortunate to have had both a legendary mountain guide who had a vision to bring this incredible portfolio of amazing ski resorts together, combined with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the smartest, hardest working, most inspirational and innovative entrepreneur, financier and business leader, Murray Edwards.
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business? Always the best [are the days when I’m] sharing high fives with our guests and team!
Worst: Too many to list [but here are some] ...Setting up a golf meeting for the owner, and I agreed to a friendly bet on the game. Now I know why those guys did not warm up at the driving range, and thank goodness for a lightening storm cutting short my misery. BTW, during that same golf game I almost knocked out a Super Bowl winning quarterback! Another one that ranks right up there on the “don't do” list is throwing a bun across the restaurant at the owner and breaking his wine glass, with an explosion of juice onto his suit that probably had more value than my first car.
Most Memorable: So grateful for all the passionate people who I have been fortunate enough to spend time with.
Who was/is a memorable mentor? I have been very fortunate to have many. Murray Edwards shared the importance of focus, intense passion, and always take care of those on your rope.
Did you ever almost leave the industry, and why? Why did you stay? Four times, for sure—for good: A grizzly bear, crevice, avalanche, and the Arctic.
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be? This was my vision from a young age, to share the goodness of the outdoors. Skiing is my life and I have been so grateful for the incredible people I have met through it, for the family tradition it has provided, and for the amazing benefits of spending time outside in magical and sacred places.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket? I never have. I was a fat kid whose life was saved by a chiseled face, big life smile ski instructor who shared “freedom” with me. Thanks mom and dad for making this all possible, as they paid for my first “racer pass,” and from there the rest is ski bum history (I can't share all of my secrets).
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks? You wash your ski socks?
What’s the last thing you searched on Google? Best powder snow.
Guilty pleasure? I love powder. Mountains. Rivers. Getting lost in British Columbia with my friends and family.
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award? I lost it the night I won it. I think it went home with the cab driver, I don't know. Heck, it was a super fun night, great people and craft beer.
Thoughts on the future? Disruption, that’s one. We are not doing enough of it.
“Ski-bumming” has all of the elements of the sharing economy, but we need to do more to integrate this into today's travellers’ experience—every mountain town has passionate people ready to share adventure, skis, or après experience. We need to tap deeper into this “local” and make it come alive for the everyday person to book these nuggets of life.
Another thing is, we need to dig deeper to share beyond the constant hucking, slicing, and thrashing, to having stories about the amazing, powerful, and magnetic pull our winter wonderland can have on people of other ethnic backgrounds. I have brought many first timers [out skiing], and when they feel the kiss of snow for the first time, that watermelon-wide smile they have is so contagious! Less of the same and more of the wild nuggets that captivate, and ultimately brought me into this tribe in the first place—crazy people having a super good time outside. That's it. Real simple.
Where you were in your career when you won a SAMMY, and big moments since? I think I was one of the oldest SAMMYs—slow to mature, I guess. I was basically in my current role as VP business development for WB. The biggest moment since my SAMMY was announcing our long-term development plans: Whistler Blackcomb Renaissance in April 2016.
Best Day/Worst Day/Most Memorable in the business? Best Day: Heli skiing and heli biking in the same day.
Worst Day: Those days when we lose one of our friends or colleagues.
Most Memorable: I think this goes back to 1985-86 when Blackcomb announced its Black Magic expansion—huge news at the time.
Who was/is a memorable mentor? Donald Trump—har! Of course, I have to mention my boss, Dave Brownlie, who I have worked with/for for more than 20 years. He has taught me to strive to figure out the oxymoron of combining financial discipline with creativity and innovation. I think he probably stopped me from doing some really stupid things, and got me to dig deeper to find solutions to issues before swinging for the fences.
Did you ever almost leave the industry, and why? Why did you stay? Once I had a taste, I kept on eating—that metaphor could continue, but probably best I stop here. I can’t imagine working in another industry. I am really not very good at anything else. I think those of us who do [work in this industry] are extremely fortunate to be able to combine work and play.
If you could work in another industry doing something completely different, what would it be? Designing cool stuff, not exactly sure what.
When was the last time you actually purchased a lift ticket? Ironically, I purchased a ticket to check Vail out a couple of years ago—it was really expensive.
How many days do you go without washing your ski / snowboard socks? Depends on the freezing level—couple of days if it has been warm, double that during cold snaps.
What’s the last thing you searched on Google? Backcountry touring boots.
Guilty pleasure? Salted pistachio nuts.
Where do you keep your SAMMY Award? In my office.
Thoughts on the future? Despite the gloom and doom surrounding our industry, I think the future is bright. Equipment keeps on getting better—easier to use, more effective, more versatile in all conditions, etc. Resorts/ski areas are getting better at developing/improving on-mountain experiences, from snowmaking/grooming to terrain features and access to the rental shop, to online ticketing/booking, to food and beverage and events, etc.
Witness the explosion in the development of non-skiing activities at resorts. Families continue take up skiing at early ages and are increasingly attracted to our summer offerings. We are seeing a broader ethnic mix of visitors. Furthermore, the growing development of Chinese tourism—especially with the Beijing Games in 2022—could be a force in the future. Also, the development of new, year-round/summer attractions.
So, I believe, as we always have, we will experience some years/seasons that are better than others based on external weather, economic and other factors, but in general, I see way more to be optimistic about than what I perceive the common industry perspective to be.