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July 2023

10 Under 30

This peer-nominated group of 20-somethings are thinkers, tinkerers, and hard workers—and they are the future leaders of our industry.

Written by April Darrow | 0 comment

They are tinkerers and thinkers. Collegiate athletes and coaches. Scholarship winners. East- and West-Coasters. Beginner and seasoned skiers and snowboarders. They inhabit every U.S. time zone. They’re passionate about the mountains. They have master’s degrees and PSIA certifications. They value education. They are gay and straight. They hike Everest with their moms. They are mentors and mentees. And they are valuable. 

They are this year’s peer-nominated SAM “10 Under 30.” We enjoyed getting to know them, and we hope you will, too. 

—The Editors


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 Prior to following her then-boss to Mt. Ski Gull in 2018, Mata Agre was working as head strength coach at a summer hockey camp while completing her master’s in athletic leadership. A lifelong athlete who grew up in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, she had already completed a double major at Gustavus Adolphus College in exercise science and business management, where she’d been a D3 student athlete in Nordic skiing and track.

At Ski Gull, Agre, 29, quickly transitioned from director of programming and hill operations to general manager in 2020, though at the small, nonprofit area, “titles are titles, but we do everything,” she says. “Some days I get to make snow, then I’m running payroll, then I’m testing rental skis and running a lesson.”

As GM, she works closely with the maintenance manager—the only other full-time employee—on outside operations and heads up youth programming, including the ski area’s alpine team and learn-to-ski programs. One for local 6th graders draws more than 1,000 kids each year. Under her guidance, Ski Gull has also added summer programming—mostly educational—for the first time.

Nominators say Agre “exemplifies what it means to be a rising star in the ski industry,” who has “changed the culture of our hill. She has doubled season pass sales, overseen two Magic Carpet installs, grown our alpine team, and helped revamp a preventative maintenance program, all while continuing to learn and educate herself about the ski industry.”

Under her direction, pass sales reached 1,800 last season versus the 1,000 sold in previous seasons. With a focus on expanding the local market to attract new skiers, and by introducing a season pass price-point change to a flat rate of $125, Agre hopes to boost that number to more than 2,000 next season while continuing to create a family-friendly culture.

She says she felt especially connected to the 2019 install of a 700-foot tubing hill Magic Carpet, which she and a group of volunteers did themselves. “When you install a lift, you really get to learn how it works,” says Agre. “To be able to lead our volunteers to go through that process was really an experience.” She credits her grad school studies on what makes a good coach with helping her be a good manager and enable the success of her team.

Agre hopes to continue to grow within the ski industry and in turn, help grow the sport. “I’d like to put being outdoors in Minnesota in the winter in a positive light,” she says.


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Kyle Wilson might be the only snow school director who was hired having never been on skis. Today, the 25-year-old is Level I PSIA certified and going for Level II while he continues to lead the ski school programs at Nordic Mountain, Wis.

Wilson took a roundabout path to his current role. The Chicago native had moved to Wisconsin in 2018 to manage a Christian summer camp and took a winter bartending job at Nordic.

A people person, Wilson spent his time behind the bar forming relationships, including with the ski area’s managers after their weekly Thursday meetings. A year in, they offered him the assistant snowsports director job. “I said ‘I don’t know how to ski,’ and they said they didn’t care, they wanted people skills,” says Wilson, who was tasked with overhauling the department’s systems and protocols. “They wanted me to look at it from a business and guest experience aspect, and rework it.” He moved into the director role midway through his first year and, yes, skied for the first time, in 2019.

Wilson has since “grown and improved our school every step of the way,” says a nominator. This includes developing a streamlined spreadsheet that allows 50+ instructors to access scheduling information via their smartphones. It’s grown into a “massive document” that lists all lesson assignments and details, instructor schedules, PSIA cert info, and more. Wilson’s goal is to grow the system into a “plug-and-play” operation that can function without him.

Nominators say he “continues to take on more responsibility,” and now heads up other consumer-facing departments including groups, retail, and ticketing. “The best way to explain my role is to help our guest start with the best foot forward in terms of their experience,” says Wilson. “It’s really all focused on how we can prepare this guest to have a great day.”

Wilson still lives on-site at the summer camp and says his heart is in education, because that’s where one can really affect lives. It’s something he appreciates in his current role. “The overarching thing I love about Nordic is that we are a change-lives organization rather than a financial organization,” says Wilson. “Management has given me the full freedom to care about people first and the money will come. That single thing has taught me to love this industry and our guests.”

“Kyle is committed to our mission of changing people’s lives through skiing and snowboarding,” says one nominator. “I believe it’s because his life has been impacted so positively since finding skiing.”


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Oregon native Missy Young, 25, became a ski instructor at Hoodoo Ski Area at age 14 after completing the resort’s Mountain Cadet program and taught snowsports there until she was 21. However, after graduating from Oregon State, which she attended on a full-ride scholarship from the Ford Family Foundation, it was a lift operations job she applied for. “Growing up around the ski area, I always thought lift ops were the coolest people,” she says.

Young started as a liftie three years ago and within two months, was promoted to supervisor. In January 2023, she became assistant lift ops manager, despite being off-snow most of the season after a snowmobile accident left her with multiple injuries.

Her biggest responsibility, she says, is to be a “welcoming resource” to the lift staff of 200+. On the admin side, she tracks attendance, upholds disciplinary action, coaches behavior, helps with purchasing, and assists mountain ops and patrol with day-to-day operational decisions.

Also key: making sure morale among staff is high. In fact, her favorite part of the job is being a “leader of the culture” and promoting a healthy atmosphere. “That is a really special privilege to have,” she says, “to set the tone and remind people why we are here and what our passions are.”

Growing up somewhat transient until being adopted at age 15, Young enjoys the opportunity to help when she can. Last season, she created a food pantry for staff in her department who might need a little extra; the program will return this season. “I think people who are naturally drawn to being a leader have more responsibility when we realize that we can make more impact than we ever could before,” she says. “As leaders, we have a huge responsibility.”

Young “consistently shows exceptional leadership qualities, cares about the well-being of others, and puts in hours of volunteer time to make a difference at our company and in our communities,” says one nominator. “She is consistently looking for ways to improve her department, the well-being of the lift ops team, and Mt. Hood Meadows as a whole,” says another.

A self-professed “goal setter” with 5-, 10- and 15-year targets, Young is passionate about the ski industry and says she’d love to move up the ladder at Mt. Hood—maybe to VP or director of mountain ops one day. “And I’d be GM in a heartbeat.” Whatever role she assumes, one thing is certain: It’ll be outside.


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Megan Novak, 29, landed at Gunstock Mountain, N.H., after college on a “three-month stint” to teach snowboarding. Her plan was to head back to her home state of North Carolina afterwards, but “opportunities kept presenting themselves,” including a summer supervisory role in the resort’s adventure park that segued into a winter marketing assistant position. After three years, she jumped at the role of marketing coordinator at Sugarbush (where nominators say she was “punching above her weight”), and she’s steadily climbed the ladder to become marketing manager last October.

Though hired for her know-how in copywriting, accounting, and collateral distribution, “saying yes to anything” has allowed Novak to develop a range of skills and help out in various departments around the resort. “I kind of dabble in it all, which can be helpful when we have gaps that need to be filled,” she says. Her degree in electronic media communications from Appalachian State laid the groundwork for other, niche skills she brings to the table, including video and audio production and script writing.

As marketing manager, Novak focuses on revenue management for Sugarbush’s partnerships program, manages a variety of projects and budgets, and works alongside the marketing team to implement brand campaigns, plan outbound communications, and assist other departments with marketing needs. She says she’s learned “a ton” from managing relationships with Alterra’s corporate partners, including GoPro, The North Face, and Red Bull.

Nominators say her “thinking was key” in the direction of the #MySugarbush campaign. “Her weekly input informed the various pivots that were made within the campaign. She provided key guidance on media spends, leveraged relationships with vendors, and took on the role of sponsor relations.” She also “creates a resort team mentality by volunteering to work in multiple departments. Such flexibility has made her a go-to resource.”

The flexibility has benefitted Novak, too. “Helping other areas of the mountain has enabled me to develop a deeper understanding of the ski industry, like why we make the decisions we do, how outside elements affect our business, and how we can utilize a wide range of platforms and demographics to get more people out onto the hill,” she says. “I’ve learned so much in the past few years by not being limited by my job description. I understand we’re in an age where a lot of people feel overworked, but I’ve learned the easiest way to progress is to say ‘yes,’ even to doing things that I’m not totally sure how to do.”


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Every family needs a good mechanic, and for the Granite Peak family, that’s Ry Baumann. A tinkerer by nature, Baumann, 24, graduated from North Central Technical College in nearby Wausau in 2021 with a degree in electrical power distribution. His vision was to become a lineman, but an offer to work full-time as terrain park manager at Granite Peak, where he’d worked park crew every year since age 16, changed his direction.

Baumann was well-suited to the job. After high school, he gained valuable experience as an auto body tech, learning “everything he needed to know about the automotive industry,” which transferred well to his daily mechanical tasks at Granite. For fun, he also built his “own private motocross compound” on some family property, repurposing old park features as dirt bike jibs, bonks, and anything else that came to mind. The experience “gave me a huge opportunity to expand my imagination and was key to self-evaluation,” he says.

This passion for riding and for building is apparent in Baumann’s role at Granite Peak, where the self-proclaimed “perfectionist” supervises a winter park crew of 15 or 20—though at the small resort, the role extends to much more than just “park.” A typical day might mean snowmaking, fixing machines, or overseeing free grooming and special events. Summer months are filled with cat and snowgun maintenance, capital projects, and new installs.

Nominators say Baumann’s been integral to Granite Peak’s success over the last three seasons. “He has blossomed into a full-time, year-round asset that has developed into a core piece of our mountain operations team.”

This includes risk management, which is front-and-center for Baumann, who, with his crew, runs through best- and worst-case scenarios each time a feature is constructed. He also trains the daytime park crew as guides who patrol the park and teach proper etiquette and size designation to anyone who seems undereducated.

“His attention to detail has our parks and machines in prime condition,” say nominators. “More importantly, incidents within our parks have dropped by 5 percent year-over-year because of the care taken.”

“Personally, I just want to continue to build parks not only for personal satisfaction, but to watch other people enjoy them,” Baumann adds. “It’s very self-rewarding being part of constructing what I love to ride. The more passionate you are about the product you produce, the better the finished product will be.”


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Granite State native Morgan Fuller, 27, grew up in an active family surrounded by lakes, mountains, and rivers. She was on skis at 18 months, took up whitewater kayaking at age 10, and has completed the majority of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot mountains with her mom (most recently, they hiked to Everest base camp). Despite it all, she had no work experience in the outdoor industry before she moved to Idaho in 2014 to attend Boise State. During winters as a big mountain freeride coach for the Bogus Basin Ski Education Foundation, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the ski industry.

Fuller has held a variety of positions at Tamarack, including zip line supervisor and winter sports school manager, but it was during her third year, while managing the zip line and rental/tune shop, that she began to understand the bigger picture of what it takes to operate a resort. “I latched onto some influential mentors and grew exponentially as a manager under their guidance,” she says.

Last November, she became director of guest and recreational services and now directly manages roughly 10 guest-facing departments, including ticketing, rentals, gear valet, parking, zip line, and rafting. She’s focused on providing “impeccable and consistent” guest service across all departments and a seamless guest experience, and does her best to lead by example.

Tamarack has grown exponentially the last five years, and Fuller has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, and training courses that have helped her manage her departments through the expansion. In addition, “I ask for help daily, and often that help comes from someone outside of my departments,” she says.

Nominators say she’s “an incredible leader,” “an undeniable asset to Tamarack,” and “a rock star in every aspect of her position.” “She leads with grace and a true passion for all aspects of the industry.” “She makes sure that every guest, employee, and homeowner is treated with respect, and that everyone is going to have the adventure of a lifetime.”

Looking ahead, her goal is to be VP of resort operations at Tamarack, an aspiration she shared with current VP of resort operations, Wolfe Ashcraft, last year. “He told me he still has 15 years left, so I was going to have to wait. But getting to that level and having the knowledge to successfully oversee the operations of an entire resort is the goal,” says Fuller. “It’s the driving factor behind my motivation to learn and understand this business. It keeps me engaged and inspired.”


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From a young age, Malcolm Wilber, 29, knew he wanted to head west and experience its outdoor recreation opportunities and wide open spaces. The Massachusetts native grew up snowboarding at Ski Butternut and attended Ithaca College, where he majored in outdoor adventure leadership. During college, he guided whitewater rafting on Colorado’s Arkansas River, near Salida, where he moved full-time shortly after graduation. He’s been full-time in base area services at nearby Monarch Mountain for the past four years, and was named manager in 2020-21.

As manager, Wilber oversees a staff of 30. His day-to-day includes parking lot operations and managing shuttles and auxiliary lots. However, base area services is a “dynamic” department that extends far beyond the parking lot to on-mountain services like snow removal, cat operations, and the occasional ski patrol sweep, says Wilber. It’s a big job that presented added challenges during his first two (pandemic) seasons.

Wilber has been recognized with Monarch’s Golden Butterfly and President’s awards, and base area services, which has seen a 65 percent return rate the past few years, was named department of the year in 2021-22. The crew, says Wilber, is his favorite part of the job. “Sometimes you have these really challenging days, but you also have these cool wins, and seeing a team that works together towards a common goal is a great thing.”

He’s learned a lot from being around in the summer and assisting on capital and construction projects like the installation of backend infrastructure for an RFID gate implementation with the lift crew and a retaining rock wall rebuild alongside the property maintenance team.

“Being involved in where the mountain’s going to be in a month or five years really makes you better as a manager, because it helps you see that bigger picture,” he says. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot about how businesses work and what needs to be done to make this place tick.”

Nominators call Wilber a “charismatic and natural leader” who “inspires his crew and leads a tight ship.” He’s “overseen a dramatic increase in our parking, shuttling, and guest service operations” and “is well positioned to continue his rapid ascent at Monarch.”

As for the future? “I'd like to continue to move into the back-end of operations, i.e., logistics and long-term resort goals,” says Wilber. “I think a bigger role in how you can make all those big pieces work together would be an interesting direction.”


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Kat Polizos, 27, grew up in Vernon, N.J., home to Mountain Creek Resort, so it’s not surprising that in 2010, it’s where she got her first job as a teenager. While in college, she worked various seasonal roles there until 2017, when SNOW Operating (now SNOW Partners) began operating Mountain Creek and she hopped onboard as executive assistant. “Executive assistant doesn’t come close to describing Kat’s role in our business,” though, say nominators. “She is the glue that holds our company together.”

Polizos’ primary role is to support the SNOW executive team and family of businesses in the usual ways—scheduling calls, meetings, travel and events, organizing documents, taking notes. But nominators say she does so much more. “She attends weekly senior leadership meetings for all five of our businesses, is part of strategy and tactical discussions and planning meetings, provides organization and administration support, and keeps the executive team humming.” She’s been “deeply involved in many high-level projects,” including the acquisition of Sno-Go, the opening of Big SNOW, and programming at Mountain Creek. “She’s a burgeoning leader who demonstrates competence in countless capacities.”

In recent years, Polizos has taken on a bigger role in the company’s real estate business; nominators say she has “a particular affinity and skill for real estate development and municipal relations.” As a project manager, she works with planners and engineers, assists with land acquisition, and serves as a soup-to-nuts point person on small- and large-scale renovation projects, from construction timelines and purchasing and receiving to choosing flooring, fixtures, and furniture.

Polizos also dabbles in real estate outside of the office, as owner of a business that manages several rental properties in northern New Jersey, through which she purchases, redesigns, and renovates distressed properties to create spaces for others to call home.

One of the most meaningful SNOW Partners initiatives she’s helped with, she says, was a community food pantry that Mountain Creek organized during the early months of the pandemic, which supplied provisions to hundreds of residents and provided free legal and accounting services to local businesses working on economic relief grant and loan applications.

“The ski industry is full of incredible people from different backgrounds who are so passionate about what they do and about collaborating with others,” says Polizos. “I love learning new things and meeting new people, and I’m able to do that through my role at SNOW Partners. My favorite part is the people—meeting them, working with them, learning from them, and creating lifelong connections.”


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Hannah Kerr has the sort of behind-the-scenes job that most people don’t think about when they click into their skis and hop on the lift. But as lead data developer at POWDR, the 25-year-old’s work touches on pretty much every aspect of ski area operations.

Kerr grew up in northern Utah, with Snowbasin as her home mountain. After receiving her bachelors in statistics from Utah State, she went on to the Graham School at the University of Chicago for a master’s in science and analytics, graduating in 2020, and joining POWDR as an SQL analyst shortly after. The “excellent snowboarder” is “a tremendous asset to the resort industry,” nominators say.

At a ski resort, says Kerr, there’s a lot of diverse data. That includes revenue from different lines of business, such as retail, rentals, parking, tickets, spa, and lodging, as well as customers interactions with different systems at different times. Not to mention operational data, such as grooming efficiency, lift wait times, and the actual capacity of a lift on a given day. Kerr’s job is to bring all this data together, and organize it in a way that helps everyone—from a senior executive to a front-line manager—understand the metrics that matter to them.

Even more importantly, nominators say, Hannah helps teach others about the data. “She has an incredible way of working with the data that enables [others] to better understand what data is important to their business, how it is being generated, and the best way to access it on their own.” She “is constantly coaching her teammates on best practices and helping to solve complicated problems.”

A lover of problem-solving, Kerr says the job is a great fit. “I think the ski industry is different when it comes to data, because we have such a variety of products and types of things people can do on the mountain,” she says. “Being able to problem solve that way is great, since there’s not a blueprint of how things should be handled.”

It’s been fun, too, to visit POWDR’s mountain resorts to see how they handle data and solve problems—something she didn’t get to do until pandemic travel restrictions eased up in 2022.

It’s because of the variety that Kerr can see herself continuing in the industry. “I really like the back end of things, so I can see myself managing a team of developers to do more in-house,” she says. “I’m the type of person who loves to get into the code and problem solve that way.”


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SoCal native Austin Smith, 29, headed to Sierra Nevada College after high school to study marketing and ski business under the tutelage of former China Peak owner Tim Cohee, and was hired by Bogus Basin as marketing coordinator shortly after graduation in 2017. Just five days after he arrived, however, the marketing director exited. “I had to answer to other department heads, but I basically assumed the role,” says Smith.

It was a pivotal time for the ski area. The 2016-17 season had marked “the end of a drought” and a sort-of turning point in terms of community perception. Smith rolled right into a season pass sale with a pass price change for the first time in 18 years, which translated into a big capital infusion for the resort. The season was also the kick-off of a 10-year, $40 million master plan focused on year-round activities and capital improvements, which resulted in a windfall of net profits to be reinvested into the resort. “I sort of became the sole vision and decision maker for the entire marketing department at that phase,” says Smith.

In his current role as director of marketing and innovation, Smith heads up marketing, but also provides input on vision and master planning. “Innovation means innovating in all facets that I’m allowed to participate in, from operations, to marketing, to technologies, to organizational structure, to resource allocation,” says Smith. “I don’t get to call all those shots, but I’m given a seat at the table.”

“His intellectual capacity, hard work ethic, commitment to Bogus Basin’s non-profit mission, and ability to collaborate across the organization resulted in the area creating a unique position for him,” say nominators.

Nominators credit Smith with a post-pandemic season pass/lift ticket program that increased passholders by 20 percent, while decreasing the number of people on-hill at busy times. His passion for mountain biking also helped envision Bogus Basin’s downhill mountain bike parks. “He is a powerful asset to our organization and community.”

Perhaps his favorite part of the job has been the opportunity to “participate in, showcase, and engage” the surrounding Treasure Valley community. Smith came out as gay a little more than a year after he moved to Boise, and he appreciates that Bogus Basin has given him a platform to showcase diversity in their community.

“I’ve seen a positive shift,” he says. “One of the most rewarding things has been the opportunity to welcome more types of people into the industry who aren’t largely represented.”

What’s next? “I’m eager to expand my knowledge when it comes to machine operation and mountain bike trail and design,” says Smith. “I’m just excited to be on the journey, and feel firm that I’ll stay on the journey at Bogus Basin—as long as we continue to be mission-focused, there’s really no reason to leave.”