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The annual conference of the Ski Area Vehicle Maintenance Institute (SAVMI), held May 14-17, drew 316 attendees to Grand Junction, Colo., including 179 resort employees. The schedule was heavy with company-specific classes as well as broader classes on hydraulics, lubricants, welding, rigging, and safety.

SAVMI is an anomaly in the spring trade show calendar. Unlike the several lift-focused meetings in regions across the country, SAVMI is the only conference exclusively devoted to vehicle maintenance. Several longtime attendees noted that the program has become increasingly valuable. Not surprisingly, attendees came from as far away as the West Coast (California to British Columbia) and the Midwest (Wisconsin).

It would be possible for a mechanic to fill a three-day schedule with either Prinoth- or PistenBully-specific classes. Both companies offered half-day sessions on Tier 4 engines, plus other half-day classes on hydraulics and electronics. And each held a two-hour roundtable on the final day. These sessions often played to a full house; the Prinoth electrical class drew 62 people.

Management sessions focused on a number of safety, environmental, and regulatory issues. The combination of EPA Tier 4 fuel requirements and the close tolerances of Tier 4 engines make fuel handling an essential topic, and sessions that addressed this were well attended.

The trade show on Tuesday evening was packed, and lively conversations sprouted throughout. Several vendors entertained attendees with clever demonstrations and equally clever banter. But as with nearly all aspects of SAVMI, from the opening dinner at the Prinoth shop to the final day’s roundtable discussions, there was an undercurrent of purpose throughout. The younger attendees in particular are keen to soak up as much information and knowledge as they can, and their enthusiasm and energy help activate the event.

SAVMI handed out several annual awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dick Kincade of Taos Ski Valley, and the Tim Krause Memorial Award, which recognizes the “mechanic of the year,” to John Sheldon of Loveland Ski Area. Todd Hartman of Steamboat and John Barker of Loveland were runners-up to Sheldon. More awards and recipients are recognized in the slide show.