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DeVivo II 2023SAM Magazine—Franconia, N.H., July 11, 2023—Longtime Cannon Mountain Ski Area GM John “JD” DeVivo will assume the role of GM of the non-profit Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area in northern Wyoming on Sept. 5. DeVivo will leave the state-owned Cannon on Aug. 31, after 16 years, and with a total of 33 years in the outdoor industry in the east.

DeVivo was selected from a large field of applicants, Antelope Butte board member Erik Mogensen told SAM. “JD has always stood out as a remarkable operator, and this is a franchise quarterback hire for Antelope Butte. Attracting national talent and leadership is key to creating a sustainable operation at Antelope Butte as well as fostering a model that can be applied to other small ski areas,” added Mogensen.

In a statement, DeVivo said his mission in Wyoming will be simple: “To stabilize and revitalize a community-based ski area and year-round recreation area from the inside out, become more popular and profitable, and perhaps support additional opportunities at other similarly sized ski and recreation areas within the region over the next 5 to 10 years.”

He told SAM his decision was “partially based on an interest in bringing back affordable skiing, year-round outdoor recreation, and independent venues.”

This shared vision is one reason DeVivo was hired, said Mogensen who also owns Entabeni Systems and Indy Pass. “JD’s view and values were perfectly aligned with that of the board’s. We want more people skiing more often. JD is going to do much more then just keep Antelope Butte open. He is helping to create a new reality where small ski areas can do more than just survive."

The 500-acre Antelope Butte has had its share of ups and downs since opening in the ‘60s. It ceased operation in 2004 and sat dormant through a bankruptcy case, a failed purchase attempt, and impending demolition, which spurred the creation of the Antelope Butte Foundation (ABF) and relaunch of the area in 2011. In 2016, when ABF officially purchased the ski area, most of the lifts, base lodge, and operating equipment had been sold or were in disrepair. The community ski area has been rebuilding—and operating—since then, but has more to do.

DeVivo will strive to make change for the better. In addition to rebuilding budget, revamping marketing, reorganizing staff, and overseeing a few early capital investments, his goal within the first six months will be to create consistency. “The biggest challenge is to establish consistency of operation and product,” he said. “Consistency will drive added business, and every facet of the operation will be run as a professional operation.”

“Ever since Covid, small is the new big,” he added. “People gravitate toward the home hill—but only if you can provide a great experience. We want to be the ones that create this new, sustainable model of a small independent ski area—we want to be the model that people follow.”