Ski area exec Roger McCarthy resigns to develop Russian ski resort |

Ski area exec Roger McCarthy resigns to develop Russian ski resort

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
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BRECKENRIDGE ” Roger McCarthy, chief operating officer of Breckenridge Ski Resort and co-president of Vail Resorts’ mountain division, announced his resignation Tuesday after seven years in Summit County.

McCarthy, often the public voice of Breckenridge and Keystone resorts during most of the last decade, will be joining a private investment company to develop a new ski resort in Russia.

For the record, McCarthy doesn’t speak Russian. “Nyet,” he joked, “which I think is Russian for ‘not yet’.”

McCarthy’s new project ” Rosa Khutor resort ” is located near the city of Sochi in southwestern Russia, one of three finalists bidding on the 2014 Winter Games (cities in Austria and South Korea are also in the running). Moscow-based Interros, the private investment firm, said on its website that plans for the ski area include multiple growth steps over the next five years in order to reach its maximum goal of 9,500 visitors per day.

“It’s a bittersweet decision, but I have been offered the rare opportunity to be involved in leading the development of an entirely new resort from the ground up,” said McCarthy, whose final day will be May 4. “Not many people have (this opportunity).

There hasn’t been a resort built in this country in 25 years since Beaver Creek.”

McCarthy’s time in Summit saw several changes to the resorts he managed. In Breckenridge, he helped forge a partnership with the Town of Breckenridge, which included the installation of the $17 million BreckConnect Gondola, and developments on peaks 7 and 8.

Breckenridge Mayor Ernie Blake said he was saddened by the news.

“He’s been a gentleman to work with, and he is very savvy to work with,” Blake said. “It’s been an honest partnership and some times at arm’s length, as it has to be, because we’re not a company town. … I’m sure Vail will replace him with another excellent executive. And I certainly hope so.”

In recent years, McCarthy managed the installation of North America’s highest chairlift, the Imperial Express, and the additions of the A51 Terrain Park and access into back bowls at Keystone. In 2006, Breckenridge reported an all-time high 1.6 million skier visits in 2006, an increase of 150,000 from the year before. Keystone also recorded a 7.1 percent jump in skier visits in 2006.

“Roger raised the bar on guest service levels at Breckenridge and Keystone,” said Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “He does leave both (resorts) perfectly positioned to continue their momentum of financial success …”

The New Zealand native joined Vail Resorts in February 2000 as chief operating officer of Breckenridge Resort. He began his career as a ski patroller, and in the 1990s, he was a senior vice president with Intrawest, managing six different ski areas.

“The No. 1 thing I will miss is the people I work with,” McCarthy said. “You come in here and it’s a comfortable pair of blue jeans. It’s not pretentious here ” moving to Summit County has been fabulous for me and my family.”

The company intends to begin a search for a new chief operating officer of Breckenridge immediately, including a review of both internal and external candidates. Current co-president of the mountain division, Bill Jensen, will become president of the mountain division, effective immediately, and will assume management responsibilities for Breckenridge Resort until a new chief operating officer is appointed. Jensen will also remain as chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

Vail Resorts’ stock price (MTN) closed Tuesday at $56 a share, near the 52-week high of $59.32.

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