Yesterday evening at the 52nd Annual Meeting of Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) Colorado’s ski resorts capped a record-setting 2014/15 season with the Double Diamond Awards, where individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry were recognized for their excellence in competition, patrol, instruction, operations and ski area management.
Industry leaders gathered at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art to recognize ski area employees whose diligence and expertise were crucial in providing a superior guest experience, including snow makers, groomers, terrain masters, ski instructors and ski patrollers who have distinguished themselves through their great skill and effort. In addition, they celebrated the most exemplary young winter athlete of the year and honored two industry professionals whose dedication has benefited the entire Colorado ski industry.
This year’s Double Diamond Award winners are listed below.
Chris Diamond Steamboat Ski Resort
Chris Diamond is a 43-year veteran of the ski industry who took over at the helm of Steamboat Ski Resort in 1999. In that time, he transformed Steamboat into an international destination resort whose collaboration with the local community is a model for ski areas nationwide, said CSCUSA. From its award-winning Four Points Lodge and sustainability programs to its winter flight program that links Steamboat to 11 major U.S. airports on key carriers, Chris is responsible for making Steamboat the exemplary ski resort it is today. In addition, his 17 years on the board of CSCUSA lent an experienced statesman’s perspective to issues of critical importance to all Colorado ski areas.
Rich Moorhead Monarch Mountain
In his 30-year career at Monarch, Rich Moorhead worked his way up from a lift operator to become the resort’s general manager, where for 22 years he guided Monarch’s growth into a finely tuned, uniquely Colorado ski area. From its new lodge to expanded expert hike-to terrain and a world-class cat skiing operation, Rich delivered major upgrades to the guest experience at Monarch. His 19 years on the board of CSCUSA have provided a critical and valuable voice for Colorado’s independent ski areas.
Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year
Logan Sankey Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Logan Sankey is a 17-year old ski jumper for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. In her debut season as a ski jumper, Logan quickly surpassed many rival skiers, placing 11th and 16th in her first Continental Cup events and qualifying for the Junior National and Junior World Championships. She was eventually named to the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team.
“Logan’s explosive emergence into the sport of ski jumping stunned everyone and she’s only getting started. Her unstoppable drive and awesome attitude will surely take her farther than she could’ve imagined. She represents the best of our club and our sport and we are proud to call her one of our own”, said Karl Denney, head coach of the Under-18 / Under-16 Nordic Combined program at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Ski Patroller of the Year
R. Louis Skowyra III, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
Louis Skowyra leverages a skill set to benefit the safety and enjoyment of guests at Arapahoe Basin. In addition to being a licensed emergency medical technician, Louis is a licensed blaster for avalanche mitigation, a qualified cable rider for lift evacuations, a trained accident investigator and a wildland firefighter.
“Louis is one of the few young men I have worked with who rarely need supervision”, said Tony Cammarata, director of ski patrol at Arapahoe Basin. “His skill, drive, and service make him exactly the kind of professional by which the next generation of ski industry leaders should measure themselves.”
Ski Instructor of the Year
Trish O’Connell, Steamboat Ski Resort
Trish O’Connell is a 30-year veteran of the SnowSports School at Steamboat Ski Resort, where she consistently ranks among the resort’s top instructors for hours, lesson requests and return students. She focuses on women’s seminars, family private lessons, kids’ lessons and Telemark lessons. In addition to her work at the resort, Trish is a Nordic ski coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, a bike tour leader and a top swim instructor at Old Town Hot Springs.
“Trish has done an amazing job for the SnowSports School for more than three decades and truly loves her profession”, said Nelson Wingard, director of the SnowSports School at Steamboat. “Where Trish goes, fun and learning follow as seen by all the smiles that paint her guests’ faces. She radiates an infectious enthusiasm and positive energy about herself and leads by example for others.”
Groomer of the Year
Patrick Torsell, Ski Cooper
Patrick Torsell started as a groomer in his first season at Ski Cooper and was promoted to grooming and trail maintenance supervisor last summer. He also serves as Ski Cooper’s director of information technology and was recently named marketing director as well. Last season Patrick introduced snowcat-built moguls for training and mogul clinics and has been instrumental in reducing the amount of nightly acreage per operator to allow greater attention to detail and higher quality snow surface.
“Patrick has been a positive influence upon Cooper’s groomers by demonstrating his leadership qualities and improving our area’s standards pursuant to his education and experience”, said Tim Kerrigan, vice president of mountain operations for Ski Cooper.
Terrain Master of the Year (Night Crew)
Chris Branstetter, Snowmass
Chris Branstetter started his snow operations career when he joined the Buttermilk terrain park crew in 2008. He first worked on the day crew for five years and has five X-Games under his belt in addition to working on rail fabrication and repair in the fall. He then transferred to the Snowmass terrain park, where he has groomed on the night crew for the last two years.
“Chris will work day and night”, said Yannick Rioux, terrain park manager at Snowmass. “After seven years in the terrain park department, Chris is a very good asset for me because his skills are well rounded. Whether it’s grooming, welding, rail setting, events and everything else our terrain park staff does, Chris operates at a very high standard.”
Terrain Master of the Year (Day Crew)
Tyler Reynolds, Snowmass
Tyler Reynolds joined Snowmass for the 2014/15 season and began moving rails with a snow cat after four years at Purgatory Ski Resort, where he held the position of lift operations foreman and lift mechanic/maintenance worker during the summer.
“Tyler was nominated not just by myself but also by the day crew and the terrain groomers at Snowmass” said Rioux. “Tyler never complains, always offers help and lessons. He wants to move up in the terrain park department and shows initiative. His hard work should be recognized.”
Snow Maker of the Year
Emily Barker, Vail Mountain
Emily Barker is a six-year veteran of Vail snowmaking and is a Ski Area Management graduate from Gogebic Community College. Emily has also worked for the grooming department at Vail Mountain after snowmaking was done for the season, and she has worked for the U.S. Forest Service fighting forest fires.
“Emily consistently impresses management with her can-do attitude and detailed follow through”, explained Tim Lipman, assistant snowmaking manager at Vail Mountain. “She completely understands the three department core values we train to – safety, teamwork and communication. Emily’s dedication to the team is never-ending, she is always willing to stay late and come in on her days off. She is constantly taking ownership of tasks and elevating the outcome beyond anyone’s expectations.”