2020 is a little more than halfway over, yet it's already marked significant accomplishments that teams POWDR-wide should celebrate among an avalanche of change. Each year ends with a few noteworthy moments that define it, but the first half of 2020 has seen paradigm-shifting developments.
With the pandemic still on a rampage, social change gaining momentum and elections pending, there’s still a lot to happen. Not sure how to get through it? Luckily we across POWDR are grounded by our mission to deliver memorable experiences, enhance people’s lives, and have fun doing it; and we’re guided by our values-- to be enduring, entrepreneurial, responsible, soulful and to practice teamwork. As we navigate all this change, let’s take a look at what we’ve already accomplished in 2020.
On Jan. 17-18, the World Pro Ski Tour hosted its Colorado Pro Open at Eldora. It featured Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety alongside the best dual-format alpine racers in the world, including World Championships silver medalist Phil Brown and NCAA Champion Robert Cone.
"Eldora has always had a passion for ski racing, going back to its founding as a training venue for the University of Colorado Ski Team, and it was so cool to have the Colorado Pro Open here back in January,” said Sam Bass, director of marketing at Eldora. “Being able to see these pro skiers compete here at the locals’ community mountain, to watch their incredible skills up close, was an amazing experience for spectators."
On an apres note, Killington debuted a custom whiskey, the Bewildering Boar, exclusive to Preston’s at the Killington Grand Hotel and made by WhistlePig Whiskey. WhistlePig embodies the “Vermont craft” spirit, producing its whiskey on a 500-acre farm that’s home to many animals, bees, horses and 20 acres of maple trees for syrup production. Even the aging barrels are made from Vermont Oak harvested directly from the farm and surrounding area.
Jan. 29 kicked off the Woodward Peace Park Championships user-generated content contest. When the UGC contest was announced, Peace Parks were due to open at Killington, Boreal, Mt. Bachelor, Copper and Woodward Park City as venues within the new Woodward Mountain Parks. The contest encouraged guests to submit an edit of themselves riding one of the parks for a chance to win entry into the Peace Park Championships, which were planned at Mt. Bachelor. However, the contest and championships were canceled.
On Feb. 6-9, the Dew Tour took place at Copper Mountain. The competition schedule for the broadly televised event was modified due to a massive snowstorm that dropped as much as 20” of powder on day one. As competitors rode for fun and got deep, the day included a tribute ride for Jake Burton, the pioneer of snowboarding who died of cancer in November. The Dew Tour was a memorable event that united Copper across all departments. “Our entire team worked well together to make sure all the guests and Dew Tour staff and athletes had an incredible experience,” said Carly Hawkins, Copper sales and services administrator.
POWDR employees continue to stand out in their respective communities, doing incredible work both on the job and beyond. The Boreal patrol team is a perfect example. In early March, members of the team were recognized by local medic service Care Flight with its Golden Rotor Award, which honors patient care that’s considered “above and beyond the normal emergency response.” The patrol was honored for its life-saving response to an on-hill cardiac arrest. The Fulcrum interviewed the patrollers directly involved in the incident, and Boreal covered the award celebration on their blog.
In mid-March, Coronavirus hit, and POWDR made the difficult decision to close resorts for the health and well-being of our employees, guests and communities. The first announcement--that resorts would temporarily suspend operations—was followed a week later with a March 21 announcement that resort suspensions would be indefinite. In fact, the 2019/20 winter season would end early for several resorts. “These decisions were not made lightly but they are the right choice given we are in the midst of a global pandemic,” said POWDR co-president Wade Martin at the time.
On April 28, Mt. Bachelor announced that it partnered with Ikon Pass. Through the partnership, passholders will have seven days access to Mt. Bachelor (with blackout dates). In addition, the Mt. Bachelor Outplay 365 all seasons pass--which requires a monthly subscription—is now included in the Ikon Base Pass. It was nice to have some upbeat news to share during a time when good news was scarce. “We look forward to introducing guests to all that Mt. Bachelor has to offer as the newest Ikon Pass destination,” said Mt. Bachelor President and GM John McLeod.
In May, POWDR BUs turned towards opening. Mt. Bachelor welcomed passholders for limited skiing and riding on May 16-24 before officially closing for the season. The resort followed local and state health guidelines, and skiers and riders were thrilled to have the chance to stick a fork in the 2019/20 season.
In Las Vegas, as temperatures began to rise, Lee Canyon welcomed guests for summer activities including disc golf, scenic chair rides and the Brewin Burro coffee house. Limited to only outdoor seating, with no indoor access except restrooms, Lee Canyon continues to monitor and follow guidance from Gov. Sisolak and local health departments to ensure a safe environment for guests, employees and the Mount Charleston community.
On Memorial Day weekend, Killington opened for summer, welcoming guests for golf and mountain biking. Like Lee Canyon, the resort worked with the Governor’s office to ensure a safe experience for guests as well as employees.
In early June, Snowbird, SilverStar and Boreal were recognized by the National Ski Areas Association with top industry awards in sustainability and marketing. Silverstar received the Golden Eagle Award for Sustainability in the category of Climate Change Impact. The ski area was honored for its comprehensive sustainability program that includes hydroelectric lifts, mountain ops fleets updated with low- or no-emission technologies, a rideshare program, EV charging stations and resource reduction campaigns in its lodging properties.
The NSAA marketing award for Best Lapsed Skier and Rider Campaign went to Boreal for its Feel Good Fridays program—specifically the charity component, analytics and strategic approach, partner amplification, and its proven ability to return lapsed skiers and riders to the sport.
Snowbird captured the NSAA marketing award for Best Overall Marketing Campaign (over 500k skier visits) for the Assume The Risk campaign, a perfect balance between clever and edgy that showcased actual warnings and disclaimers found around the mountain.
On another note, in June, Play It Forward launched POWDR-wide, our new employee and community-centric philanthropic program, which focuses on supporting the communities in which we play. Covered in the last Fulcrum, Play It Forward comes to life locally through volunteerism, contributing items in need, and donating money to Play It Forward Funds set up in partnership with local community foundations in the name of each POWDR resort.
On June 12, POWDR businesses showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Spurring internal conversations about D&I, employees discussed how they can address racism, discrimination, inequality and inequity within their business, community and our industry. Having such dialogue and listening to one another is the first step.
Both Snowbird and Woodward Park City welcomed summer guests starting in June. With modifications in place, including capacity limits and extra safety protocols, Snowbird offered hiking, tram and chairlift rides, its Mountain Coaster, dining in select restaurants, shopping, and lodging and spa reservations at The Cliff. In Utah, Woodward Park City opened with the state’s newest lift-served mountain biking, allowing riders to access three flow trails with a set of BMX dirt jumps that opened as conditions allowed.
Woodward locations welcomed campers—for day programs and overnight camp—starting in July. Closely following guidelines set forth by local and regional health departments, Woodward Park City hosted day campers for their inaugural summer season, Copper and Woodward Tahoe pivoted to offer day programs, and Woodward PA had campers for the first session of the summer.
Copper, Mt. Bachelor and SilverStar opened for summer guests, all with modified operations in place. Mt. Bachelor unveiled its new ZipTour zipline, the fastest and longest in the Northwest. Read about it here. SilverStar opened its celebrated bike park, and Copper offered biking, golf, Mountain Coaster rides, hiking and dining. The re-opening brought a much-missed bustle back. Copper President and GM Dustin Lyman said opening weekend was a success, with outdoor restaurant seating filling up and people strolling the village, in addition to an enthusiastic return to golf and mountain activities.
Unfortunately Lee Canyon, which had been open since May, temporarily shut down around the July 4th holiday because of a forest fire on Mt. Charleston. Working with USFS fire crews, the resort evacuated guests as a precaution and deployed snowmaking in the base area to utilize if necessary. Within a few days, the fire was 100 percent contained, and the resort reopened without sustaining any damage.