GM Blog: Stepping Up

Friday, January 14, 2011

If you work for a company with a lot of staff members you know that change can cause resistance, and sometimes negativity.  What is really cool is when challenges are met with an open mind and opportunities are embraced.  I am lucky enough to work with a team of positive and open minded people.

As we headed into this season, our freestyle park manager resigned to take another job at a ski area in WV.  We were psyched for him and his new venture and thankful for all he contributed to Carinthia Parks.  That being said, it left us with a small challenge – only weeks away from the winter season without a Freestyle Terrain Manager.

The Freestyle Terrain Manager is responsible for everything on-snow at Carinthia.  They direct all of the Park Rangers, build and maintain the parks and everything else that needs to get done.  This person reports to Elia Hamilton, our Mountain Manager.  I remember when Elia started at Mount Snow.  He was named to our newly formed snowboard team and I recall a few girls who had a crush on him.  I kind of lost track of Elia in the late 90’s (I think he was a waiter at Snow Lake Lodge)  but the next thing I knew he was not only riding parks but building them and during the American Skiing Co years he was the Director of Freestyle Terrain for all of our resorts in the East.  Luckily, Elia ended up at Mount Snow and his responsibilities as the Mountain Manager include grooming, freestyle terrain (Carinthia), vehicle maintenance and patrol/rescue.

Back to the issue at hand - faced with a gaping hole in his staffing, Elia got busy trying to find a replacement.  To date he has interviewed dozens and made a few offers but that “just right” person is still MIA.  Long story short, Elia has been filling in as the Freestyle Manger while performing all of his other duties.  To accomplish this, he has had a lot of assistance from his staff.

So here we are 50 days into the season and the accomplishments made at Carinthia are impressive.  When we opened on Nov 25th, we offered 2 parks, The Gulch and Grommet.  I can say with confidence that no one in New England came close to the freestyle terrain that was offered up on opening day.  When we added Nitro, on 12/6, we were the 1st to offer multiple jumps, let alone jumps that towered up to 25 feet.

On 12/17 we added Prospector with 8 features (check out the wall ride– applause!)  Elia and his team went back to the Gulch and built it bigger and better before most ski areas even had a park open.  The Gulch reopened on 12/21 with improved innovation on the top section and the introduction of a step- up jump.  Still not enough so the 18’ superpipe was built and opened on 12/31, the first in VT.  We didn’t have to meet a deadline for the a big event like the US Open or the Dew Tour but Elia and his staff were focused on getting that pipe for their #1 priority – the Carinthia park dwellers.  Instead of putting the mini pipe back on Mineshaft, Elia wanted to make a change and now the mini pipe (there is nothing mini about it with 12’ walls) sits on Junkyard, alongside its big brother.  Tomorrow is the grand opening of Inferno – our biggest park. I’ll be checking out the 60’ money booter?!?!  From the safety of skiers left, of course.



Elia has pushed hard but at the same time has not rushed a job or a park.  He opted for quality and when you ski or ride Carinthia it shows.  The flow will feel seamless but I can guarantee that 50+ days of intentional planning, pushing and shaping is what you are really feeling.

To everyone that has been a part of this season’s build at Carinthia, this Red Bull’s for you.  You inspire me and remind me that challenges present the perfect opportunities to go big.  And for all you ladies out there who are wondering if Elia might hang out at Cuzzin’s after work – sorry.  Roxy stole his heart years ago.
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