Katie Cerovski

Lift Operations Manager
Red Lodge, Mont.

Six-word bio: "Colorful, cheerful, determined, dedicated, fun, snowboarder.”

At 20, Cerovski stepped into her current position in mid-winter, and revitalized Red Lodge’s lift operations department with her smile, work ethic, and passion for the industry.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That could be the mantra for Red Lodge’s lift operations manager Katie Cerovski. Cerovski has, according to general manager Jeff Schmidt, “revitalized the department with her smile, work ethic and passion.”

Cerovski didn’t start out in lift operations. The gregarious 21-year-old (who also sidelines as the owner/knitter of Garbage Beanies, a hat company that operates, literally, off the top of her head), thought she was on track for a professional ski patrol position, having worked as a volunteer patroller the previous winter. But things didn’t work out. “I did some pre-season work,” says Cerovski of her truncated pro patrol career. “But it turned out that they didn’t want a snowboarder on the patrol.”

One department’s loss was another’s goldmine, though. Cervoski quickly changed course and took a job as a lifty. And when the opportunity came, she didn’t pass up the chance to apply for a management position in the department, where she was quickly able to make her mark, wowing Schmidt and impressing her peers.

“I think that perhaps the person who held the job before me didn’t have their heart in it,” says Cerovski, playing down her success. “Maybe they were just doing it for a paycheck.”

Still, the position hasn’t been without challenges. “The transition from being part of the group to supervising all the people I work with was difficult,” admits Cerovski. “It’s hard to set the line. The hardest part of my job is trying to keep my social relations and my work relations separate, as many of my employees are also the people that I hang out with after work.”

And then there are the people who have been instrumental in her success: “I would like to thank Doug and Jeff Schmidt for not only giving me a chance at this position, but also for jump-starting my career,” says Cerovski. “I also feel like I would never have been as successful if it wasn't for Zane, Gus, and the lift mechanics, for holding down the fort on my days off.”

Regardless, according to Schmidt, senior management can’t get enough of Cerovski’s passion and love of the job, so they’ll be happy to know that it looks like she’ll be around for a while. “I love it here,” says Cerovski. “I love Montana, I love the mountains, I can’t see myself anywhere else.”

—Tom Winter