Ski industry conference wraps up season |

Ski industry conference wraps up season

BEAVER CREEK – It’s not really a team sport, so skiing has to find other ways to experience the locker-room backslapping common at the end of a season. At the Ritz-Carlton in Beaver Creek’s Bachelor Gulch on Thursday, industry bigwigs from around the state gathered to do exactly that.

“We kick ass,” proclaimed Colorado Ski Country USA’s president and chief executive officer Rob Perlman during his opening remarks at the trade association’s annual conference.

After a video set to contemporary rock music inaugurated the festivities by showing a cigar-smoking Perlman tooling around the state’s ski hills in an SUV, the trade association chief rattled off the host of challenges the 2002-03 season presented and said the industry had met them.

With skier visits up 4.3 percent on the year to 11.6 million statewide, the fourth-best finish in state history, the numbers seemed to prove him right. And the fact that most of those numbers came from the traditional core of the sport’s demographics, middle-aged consumers, and not from the highly-coveted younger generations, hardly seemed to dampen the mood.

“All things considered, in the new world we live in and based on the previous challenges we faced, we consider that a pretty successful result,” he said.

As for the youth market, Perlman simply added, “we’re seeing inroads.”


Detailing the future

The conference featured guest speakers including Larry Kellner, president and chief operating officer of Continental Airlines; Greg Moore, editor of the Denver Post; Amy Ziff, editor at Travelocity; and Gary Ream, director and co-founder of Camp Woodward, a summer camp for young BM, in-line skating and skateboarding athletes. Each outlined the structure of his or her business while attempting to reference tie-ins to his or her place in the skiing world.

Kellner pointed to increased flight scheduling to smaller resort destinations within the state as one way his company was helping bring in business.

“You guys are very important to us,” he said.

Ream seemed to have slightly more difficulty detailing the correlations until the end of his presentation when he spoke to a revolution in youth culture.

“You need to not just service, but embrace them,” he said, claiming these types of athletes were the vanguard of the future.

“Traditional sports right now are reeling a bit,” he said.

“The marketplace you have on your slopes is the exact one we have on our ramps.”


Locals honored

In addition to speakers, the conference also hosted several award presentations, including a special recognition of Andy Daly, the former Copper Mountain and Vail executive who served 22 years on the CSCUSA board of trustees.

Described as “always one to wear a ski industry hat,” by outgoing board of trustee chairman Pat O’Donnell, Daly received a framed poster of the state’s ski resorts signed by industry and state executives including former Colorado governor Roy Romer and Gov. Bill Owens.

“I’m delighted to be a part of it,” Daly said of the ski business.

Also honored were the annual industry award winners, which ranged from Adaptive Athlete of the Year to Snow Groomer of the Year. Included among the honorees were locals Julie Tierney, named Patroller of the Year for her work at Breckenridge, and Jason Gusaas, named Terrain Park Master of the Year for his creations at Copper Mountain.


State of the industry

In a presentation on the state of the association, CSCUSA Treasurer David Barry said that thanks to “excellent financial management,” the organization was in good condition despite significant belt-tightening.

After a 15 percent decline in total revenue, CSCUSA still ended the year with an $11,700 balance.

“Ski Country is in a really healthy position,” he said.

“The resiliency of the skiing and snowboarding public just seems to keep us buoyed up all the time,” added O’Donnell.

Aidan Leonard can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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