2008 SAMMY Winners
KATHY HUBBARD :: DEPUTY DIRECTOR :: CALIFORNIA SKI INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
Kathy Hubbard is the Deputy Director of the California Ski Industry Association (CSIA). A New England native, Kathy moved to the Bay Area shortly after receiving her B.A. in History from Dartmouth College. After only 2 1/2 years, Kathy has already made her mark at the organization by spearheading two initiatives.
The first is a unique partnership with Sierra College that brings the science of mechatronics to lift mechanics and lift electricians. This instructional program is in its third year and over 100 participants have gained advanced knowledge in an area where the opportunities for learning are few and far between.
Her second initiative was a partnership between California ski areas and the Forest Service that fostered a much greater understanding between the two. Kathy organized a thorough review of ski operations on National Forest lands, which led to an open discussion of best practices and potential for improved programs. By bringing together the California ski industry and the USFS, Kathy has successfully opened the lines of communication making a better working partnership possible.
As one nominator sums it up, Kathy has proven herself to be, “an intelligent, motivated individual who has quickly gained an understanding of the key issues facing our resorts.”
JAMES GRANT :: DIRECTOR, LIFT OPERATIONS :: HEAVENLY RESORT, CALIFORNIA
James started in this industry the old-fashioned way: bumping chairs at Heavenly on an H2B visa in 1992. Hailing from Australia, James fell in love with the Tahoe area during that winter, and with a guest in the liftline he was running and whom he married 14 years ago.
Since those days in the maze, James quickly worked his way up to lift supervisor and then as the facilities manager for the new gondola in 2000. This involved a pat on the back and a “you’ll figure it out” that turned into an all-encompassing job from parking to restrooms.
James proved he had what it took running the gondola, so when Vail bought Heavenly in 2002, he was promoted on up to director of lift operations, overseeing 175 employees. Since taking over, Heavenly’s lift staff has had the highest service scores for personnel among Vail Resorts for the past three years. In addition, he has an incredible record for employee safety, having logged over 380 days without a loss-time injury.
Nominators point to James’ enthusiasm and sense of teamwork as his strongest suits. As one of his employees said, “He has a good sense of knowing what his employees need, whether it be guidance, support, or the freedom to find our own direction...he never asks his crew to do what he would not do himself.”
DAVID AMIRAULT :: INTERACTIVE SERVICES MANAGER :: FREESKIER MAGAZINE
Dave, or Digi Dave as he is known, started his wintersports career at Sunday River, Maine, where, as a 17-year-old, he caught the eye of management in the resort’s forums. The area couldn’t ignore Dave’s passion for involving himself in the on-line community so they brought him aboard in the marketing and communications department. Once there, he developed web campaigns and moderated Sunday River’s on-line presence. As a peer describes it, “Dave was posting videos six years ago, long before the You Tube revolution began.”
Dave moved on from Sunday River to take on the web community at Freeskier magazine. His keen understanding of the media not only allows him to be a genius behind the keyboard, but he is also in front of the camera as a spokesperson.
In addition to his work at Freeskier, Dave also freelances as a writer and photographer and runs his own high-tech ski blog that receives 200,000 unique visitors per year and continues to grow.
To sum Dave up, a former colleague at Sunday River describes him as, “one of a handful of people who bridges the two generations in the ski industry: those that run the mountain and didn’t grow up with the Internet and the kids who are an integral part of the Internet age.”
The SAM Diversity Leadership Award
Mountain High is one of the most ethnically diverse resorts in the country with minorities making up 52 percent of its visits. And this is no accident. For years the resort has attracted emerging markets with promotions and amenities that cater to these guests both on and off the mountain. Through partnerships with various media groups, it’s not uncommon to hear a Hispanic DJ talk about a bus trip to Mountain High or snowboarders taking air on the local Asian affiliate. Once at the hill, guests are greeted with signage in different languages and food from around the world.
John McColly, director of marketing for the resorts, says, “Not every single sign is written in Spanish, Tagalog or Chinese. But there is enough to show that we appreciate your visit, that you are welcome here and that we want you to be a part of this resort.”
Mountain High’s staff also reflects the area’s commitment to diversity. Upper management hails from China, Peru, El Salvador and the Philippines and the frontlines are equally as rich in cultural backgrounds. At Mountain High, no matter who you are, you are not far from someone with a similar background or nationality.