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"I just wanted to thank you for all that you have done this summer/fall to foster such vibrant and helpful collaboration between industry leaders. It is truly inspiring to be on a call knowing that our smallest mountains and largest resorts are wrestling with the same issues and working together to solve them." – Tom Butler, Sugarloaf

Huddle IG FB feed SMWe're still huddling, virtually, with fellow industry members to discuss the challenges and the opportunities of our world. Our goal for the Huddles is to keep our communication lines open and work on sharing so we can all move forward together. Have ideas? Send them to

RECENT HUDDLE  Where Are We With “Sustainability?"

Listen to the podcast on PodSAM. 

Sustainability encompasses so much more than going “green.” The growth of sustainability specialist positions at mountain resorts and beyond has us asking, “What does it really mean to be a sustainable business?” Does being sustainable mean lowering your bills and employee turnover while also decreasing waste and carbon emissions? Does it mean placing environmental and social concerns above the bottom line, or is there an ROI on sustainable business plans? We’ve gathered a group of sustainability leaders to hear about how they approach sustainability, the results of their currents efforts, and future plans. Join us as we share stories and actionable takeaways for resorts big and small.

  • Co-host: Erika Kazi, Vice President of Social Impact and Sustainability, flaik 
  • Mike Nathan, Sustainability Manager, Arapahoe Basin, Colo.
  • Amy Fonte, Sustainability Specialist, Big Sky, Mont., and Mari Kissinger, Director of Skier Services and Sustainability, The Highlands, Mich.
  • Dawn Boulware, Vice President of Environmental and Social Responsibility, Taos Ski Valley, N.M.
  • Bonnie Hickey, Sustainability Director, Bridger Bowl, Mont.
  • Christian Knapp, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Pacific Group Resorts, Inc., and Tommy Royther, Sustainability Coordinator, Wisp Resort, Md.

This Huddle was presented in partnership with flaik.


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Previous Huddles, most available on PodSAM...

Breaking Point: A Special SAM Huddle on Mental Health and the Snowsports Industry (Read the article here.)

Change starts by talking about it. Vail Resorts, in partnership with SAM and Ski NY-Ski PA, is inviting pro-skier Drew Petersen to share his mental health journey with attendees both in-person and virtually on Sept. 19 at the Ski NY-Ski PA Expo at Hunter Mountain, N.Y.

Drew will share his story of personal despair and life-threatening accidents in the mountains and how he found fortitude and actualization in healing, personal growth, and creating opportunity out of hardship. Drew's film "Ups and Downs" has given voice to the importance of mental health in our mountain communities. After watching the film together, Drew will share why and how to foster a culture that prioritizes mental health. He will talk about his personal transformation and turning negative situations into positive opportunities and how showing up as our truest selves leads to our greatest success. 

Reflections and Projections: How Did We Do in 2022 and What's in Store for 2023?

Before we put 2021-22 to bed, let's unpack the season and look ahead to next season. In some ways, skiing has never been more affordable (think cheap season passes) or more expensive (skyrocketing room rates, travel costs, day tickets). Without capacity restrictions to dampen visits, many ski areas saw demand boom. While staffing shortages and wild weather hit us hard early in the season, nationally, unemployment is down, revenue and participation records were broken over Presidents Day, and March is tracking strong, even as the snow refuses to show. Was the success of 2021-22 a fluke facilitated by pent up “revenge travel” demand? Can the industry sustain this model? If not, what comes next for pass products, capacity management, and labor challenges? We may be putting the pandemic behind us, but what do the current crises—inflation, war, housing—mean for the industry going forward? Join us as we share hot-off-the-press season metrics from the Indy Pass, discuss these burning questions with a panel of operators, analysts, and industry experts; and participate in our live skier visits poll.


Kelly Pawlak, President, NSAA
Steve Wright, President/GM, Jay Peak, Vt.
Jesse True, Marketing Director, A-Basin, Colo. & Member, Insights Collective Think Tank
Doug Fish, Founder, Indy Pass
Tom Foley, SVP Business Intelligence at Inntopia & BOD, Insights Collective Think Tank
Alex Kaufman, Semi-retired Ski Industry Veteran

Link to Indy Pass presentation:

Poll results:

Huddle Polls


Gut check: Is This Winter Going as Planned?

Last winter, unified messaging and clear (and stringent) Covid protocols resulted in a successful season, marked by transparent communication, strong participation, no major staff outbreaks, and zero U.S. ski area closures. This winter has already seen ski areas forced to adapt operations mid-stream, as tremendous holiday volume, staffing shortages, surging infection rates, and tricky weather compound the daily challenges of ski area operation. Operators—and guests—need to be ready to adapt this winter. Join us as we do a gut check on Covid operations, guest communications, and consumer perceptions. It’s time to share lessons learned over the Christmas holidays and pursue strategies to get ahead of the chaos we can expect to see in the coming weeks. 


Brent Tregaskis, GM, Eldora Mountain, Colo.
Jay Gamble, GM, Wintergreen Resort, Va
Steve Paccagnan, President & CEO, Panorama Mountain Resort, B.C.
John Melcher, CEO, Crystal Mountain, Mich.
Dave Rathbun, GM, Purgatory, Colo.
Skip King, Owner, Reputation Strategies
Jess Weaver, Communications Consultant, JVP Communications
David Byrd, Dir. Risk and Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
Kelly Pawlak, CEO, NSAA 

Small Area Huddle: Small Is the New Big
September 20, 2021

Small ski areas thrived last season as people stayed closer to home and new skiers and riders came out in droves. How will these areas fare this winter as Covid continues to impact travel and recreation, and more locals now have a connection to their local hill? Last winter, operators of small ski areas planned around the unknown. This season, though, they are being more strategic. Let's huddle to share what they are thinking about when it comes to retaining interest, managing demand, Covid protocols, the labor market, and more.


Co-host: Scott Brandi, SANY
Troy Hawks, Sunlight, Colo.
Matt O'Brien, Oak Mtn, N.Y.
Rebecca Sampson, Mt Peter, N.Y.
Lori Philipps, Ski Big Bear, Pa.
Jeff Staley, Detroit Mountain, Minn.
Avery Patrick, Showdown, Mont.

Marketing Huddle: Unfamiliar Terrain Ahead
September 13, 2021

Shifts in consumer expectations and habits have historically been a game of inches and single percentage points. However, we’re now seeing sudden, dramatic changes in how guests interact with mountain resorts, what guests need and want from resorts, and even how guests see resorts fitting into their lives. There’s an awful lot of unfamiliar terrain for ski area marketers to navigate when putting together their communications plans for the 2021-22 winter season, so we're huddling to find some answers.


Co-Host: Marie-Josée Legault, Origin
Tyler Lamotte, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Hugh Reynolds, SNOW Operating 
Alex Moser, Seven Springs, Pa.
Christian Knapp, Pacific Group Resorts 
Morgan Bast, Director of Marketing, Steamboat, Colo.


Dust Off the Covid Playbook

Listen to this Huddle podcast on PodSAM.

The industry breathed a sigh of relief when last winter was in the rearview mirror. That sense of relief was all too short livedthough. While this winter won’t be the same as last, it appears that Covid will still be very much a part of it. The good news? For most operators, the Covid operations manual for winter is already written. The bad news? We need to take it out again, and maybe add a few new notes. 

In this Huddle, we will look ahead to the upcoming season and learn what mountain resort operators from across North America are planning as of now. We will discuss things like vaccine mandates, border closures, Covid playbooks, official guidelines (or lack there of), labor shortages, and staff preparedness for another Covid winter. The goal is to share what we know at this point to help operators develop their plans amid a changing landscape.


Peggy Hiller, VP of Operations, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Colo.
John DeVivo, General Manager, Cannon Mountain, N.H,
Jonathan Davis, General Manager, Perfect North Slopes, Ind.
Steve Paccagnan, President & CEO, Panorama Mountain Resort, B.C.
Karl Kapuscinski, President & CEO, Mountain High Resort, Cali.
Carolyn Stimpson, COO, Wachusett, Mass. 
Kelly Pawlak, President, NSAA

Mountain Ops: Moving Forward into Summer and Beyond

Listen to this Huddle podcast on PodSAM.

As you get ready for summer ops, it’s worth unpacking the lessons learned and "Covid keepers" from this winter. End-of-season burnout has been more severe this spring than usual—so how do we move our teams forward into summer ops and beyond? It will take more than a vaccine to recover from the non-stop stress of this Covid year. Join NSAA and SAM as we gather mountain ops leaders and team effectiveness expert Paul Thallner to talk about turning the challenges of the past year into plans and positive actions for the future.

Lauri Jones, Exec. Dir. of Operations, Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Laurel Mountain, Pa.
Dave Hunter, VP, Operations, Steamboat Resort, Colo.
Rich McCoy, Dir. of Ops, Pico, and Dir. Summer Ops, Killington, Vt.
Logan Stewart, Mountain Manager, Timberline Lodge, Ore.
Ken Gaitor, VP Mountain Operations, Snowshoe Mountain, W.V.
Ellen Galbraith, Sr. Director, Mountain Operations, Northstar California Resort

Post-pandemic Planning: A Primer to Moving Forward

Listen to the podcast on PodSAM. 

A year has passed since the world shut down, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. What lies ahead? The pandemic forced an altered perspective on how we live, work, and play. How much of this will remain once the world opens up again? And how can this inform your decision making as you consider near- and long-term plans for your operations?

Join us as we explore the predominant trends that are influencing conversations about the future. SAM's Publisher Olivia Rowan and SE Group's Claire Humber will moderate an exciting panel of guests who'll share fresh insight and expertise to help you plan your next steps.

  • Stephanie Maez, Managing Director, The Outdoor Foundation.
  • MJ Legault, Principal, Origin
  • Regina Connell, Founder, Collective Work
  • Steve Wright, President and General Manager, Jay Peak Resort, Vt.
  • David Norden, CEO, Taos Ski Valley, N.M.



SAM Huddles are supported by:

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More Huddles are on tap. Stay tuned for more details.

To receive announcements about upcoming Huddles, subscribe to SAM or sign up for Headline News.

Haven't seen the announcements? Please check your spam and/or email Sarah W. directly to inquire. 

In the meantime, listen to the previous Huddles on SAM's podcast channel, PodSAM. Plus, check out the Huddles we've hosted for our sister publication, Adventure Park Insider.

For more Huddle podcasts, click here.

Downloadable Resources:

Mountain Ops Huddle:

Unfrozen by Paul Thallner


Post-Pandemic Planning:

View the 2021 Special Report in full: The New Outdoor Participant (COVID and Beyond) 

Metric Centric Customer Voice Snapshot


Selling Season Huddle:

Tom Foley, Inntopia Presentation

Dave Tragethon, Mt Hood Meadows Presentation


Reality Check Huddle:

Video from Bolton Valley's President, Lindsay DesLaurier


Snowsports & Rental Huddle:

Slides from Rachel, Cardrona and Treblecone, New Zealand


"Lessons from Down Under" Huddle:

Video of Bridget Legnavsky speaking to customers.

NZSki Ltd (Mt. Hutt, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak) Video

Paul Anderson's slides (NZSki Ltd)


Insight Collective Presentation from "Buckle Up" Part 2

COVID-19 Tracking Prototype

Jay Peak EverClean Team Messaging

Ski Areas Association of New Zealand Alert Level 2 Operations Guide

Download the signage examples from operations that have reopened for skiing and riding:

     New Zealand Business Toolkit Posters

     Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

     Timberline, Ore.

Download the signage examples from mountain bike operations:

     Blue Mountain, PA

     Highlands Mountain Bike Park, NH

     Detroit Mountain, MI

Watch the video from the reopening of Disney Shanghai

Download the COVID-19 People Recovery Playbook from High Peaks Group

Download the COVID-19 Response Deck from Origin Marketing + Communications

SAM is providing frequent updates, guidance, and ways to connect about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Visit our  Coronavirus Update  page for more resources and special reports. For email updates, sign up to receive  Headline News,  and, if possible, help support the voice of the mountain industry,  SAM Magazine, with a   subscription  or gift subscription for someone in need. Together, #WeGotThis.