Hey, Spike! covers circuitous ski biz life of Charlie Davis
January 30, 2016
Flint, Michigan, is making big news with its tainted drinking water debacle.
With some of the world's best water running right out of the high peaks around our Summit County, the problem is difficult for us to grasp.
However, this column's connection to Flint is minor, barely anything, but it is the birthplace of Charlie Davis.
Charlie spent many years out in Colorado working in the ski biz, first in Aspen way back in 1968, after leaving Michigan State University, where he'd been for three years.
He did the early day ski bum routine: dishwasher, waiter, managing a small restaurant, carpenter, and then went to work at Aspen Highlands doing lift and trail maintenance, before joining the ski patrol.
"That's where I ran into a big guy named Kevin Williams — we were Mutt and Jeff," he recalls.
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It was there another patroller was getting his start in the biz. That guy was Andy Daly, who would later become the president of Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora owner, Vail Resorts president, mayor of Vail, and now owner of Powderhorn.
Charlie, Kevin and Andy played important roles in ski resort developments.
Kevin left for what were the baby steps' infancy of Copper Mountain. He encouraged Charlie to come over this way for a look-see and some early day promotional snowcat skiing.
"Chris Colman was driving one of those Tucker cats," says Charlie, noting Chris is still at Copper, helping to direct the resort's future.
Charlie and then-wife Bobbi moved to Silverthorne in 1972 to live in a mobile home next door to one of the Emores.
Charlie's son Ben was born in Kremmling in the summer of 1972, "the day after we finished pouring concrete for B Lift."
Next winter they moved to Copper, where Charlie was the lone night slope groomer.
The Davis family lived in Leadville 1974-75, and daughter Katie was born there in July 1974.
Later, Charlie supervised Copper's slope maintenance, trail development and oversaw operations of the newly-constructed water and sanitation system.
Charlie was among those early day Copper names and faces long associated with its development: Jim Isham, Tyler Dodge, Gary Taylor, Franz Froelicker, Charlie Wooley, Ernie Foote and Mike ("Brennan's Grin" ski run) Brennan.
After a couple more years in ski resort development, Charlie returned to MSU, where he graduated in 1976, going into the finance world with Merrill Lynch for four years in Kalamazoo.
But, the ski biz siren called to him again, this time as a partner in the Ski Bittersweet at Otsego.
Still there today, a modern looking Bittersweet offers night skiing and 20 runs from an elevation of 350 feet, with a quad lift. It's what Colorado's major resorts today call a "feeder," attracting novice skiers who will later want bigger slopes.
Charlie returned to Copper in 1983 and lived in Frisco, while managing village operations at Copper and sat on Summit Stage Board.
At Copper until 1994, Charlie moved to Gypsum to help Gerry Engle develop Cordillera near Vail until 2002.
He did some small projects in Edwards and went to Steamboat in 2003 until 2005, before heading back east to Michigan to be closer to his aging parents.
"Then a crazy thing happened," he recalls. "Apex Oil of St. Louis, the previous owner of Copper, purchased a resort in Bellaire, Michigan, named Shanty Creek Resort Hotel, with four golf courses and two small ski areas — Schuss Mountain and Shanty Creek."
Apex owner Tony Novelly and ex-Copper president Harry Mosgrove were looking for someone to manage the remodel on the 185-room hotel, restaurant and conference center.
"I was back here and managed this project from 2007 to '09 and met another longtime skier, Karen Holman," adds Charlie.
After that last project, Charlie retired and purchased "an old farm house near Traverse City-Williamsburg, where Karen and I began the remodel project to get ready for a couple of horses to join the family."
"Now it's plow snow, ski a little, trout fish, horses, camping, enjoy the lakes, and do nothing at times," Charlie said.
As for his hometown of Flint and its water problem, Charlie says:
"The Flint situation is even crazier — Michigan is surrounded by the world's largest volume of fresh water."
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to email@example.com
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