Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) recently acknowledged outstanding industry professionals at its third annual Double Diamond Awards Reception. The event capped a successful day-long program for the Colorado ski industry, CSCUSA’s 49th Annual Meeting. The Double Diamond Awards gives the trade association the opportunity to honor snow maintenance professionals, athletes, instructors, patrollers and industry legends. The celebration of these dedicated and inspiring individuals evoked memories of the 2011-12 season, and brought together the industry’s top professionals to share their experiences.
Each year, coaches, resort supervisors and managers nominate one outstanding candidate from each category from their respective resorts. The CSCUSA committee of judges, comprised of industry peers, then chooses award finalists based on a number of factors, including the individual’s application letter and interview. Final judging criteria include professionalism, dedication, contribution, leadership and attitude.
Double Diamond Award recipients this year ranged from industry veterans to up-and-coming winter athletes. Double Diamond Awards were given in the categories of: Slope Groomer, Snowmaker, Instructor, Patroller, and All-Star Athlete. CSCUSA ended the evening by bestowing the organization’s annual Chairman’s Award.
Double Diamond Awards for snow professionals went to:
Slope Groomer – Steve Parkinson, Telluride Ski Resort
Steve Parkinson, a slope groomer for Telluride Ski & Golf, was one of the first winch cat operators in Telluride history. He began working for the company in 1980, and aside from an eight year hiatus to build golf courses across the Western Hemisphere, has worked for Telluride as a career winch-cat operator and slope groomer. His expertise allows him to seldom groom runs the same way – a result of varying snow and temperature conditions each night. He builds mogul courses on the runs at the resort, which see action from FIS World Cup athletes – an event that takes place at Telluride year after year. Parkinson’s ability to adapt, improve and learn from his colleagues was also instrumental in his nomination as Slope Groomer of the Year.
Snowmaker – Michael Ostrout, Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain has a long history of successful, award-winning slope maintenance crew members, and Ostrout’s impressive ability helped further the growing national attention that the resort is receiving for its excellence. Ostrout has been with Copper for nine years, and is described by colleagues as having an outstanding work ethic and thirst for knowledge that was hard to ignore. His current position as foreman of his crew has allowed him to share his expertise, from base area equipment operations, grooming operations, trail maintenance, snowmaking maintenance and system installation. His dedication to creating a culture of safety is viewed as paramount by his peers. Through the inclement weather, steeps, ice cold, and tower bank rebuilds, Ostrout remains the consummate professional, and yet another tribute to Copper’s outstanding operations crew.
The Double Diamond Award for the Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year went to:
Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year – Keaton McCargo, Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club
Keaton McCargo has been skiing since she was two years old. At only 16 years old, her on- and off-slope resume has already reached impressive heights, including skiing to a bronze medal finish at the Junior Nationals during the 2010-11 season. This accomplishment placed her alongside just 10 other freestyle competitors nationally in the US Ski Team program “Young Guns.” Last season, during her second season on the Colorado All Star Team, McCargo competed in 11 regional mogul contests, achieving bronze or higher in 10 of them. Despite qualifying for the Junior World’s in Valmalenco, Italy, McCargo declined so she could instead attend the US nationals, where she achieved bronze in dual moguls. McCargo’s dedication outside of skiing also made her the top choice for Athlete of the Year. A passionate artist, she volunteers her off-hours helping to teach third and fourth graders at a local school. She also works with the ski club’s local adaptive ski program, and at Saint Michael’s school in Window Rock, AZ – a school for developmentally disabled children. McCargo’s drive and excellence make her a clear leader.
The Double Diamond Awards for Instructor of the Year and Ski Patroller of the Year went to:
Instructor of the Year – Doug Sakata, Copper Mountain
Doug Sakata has taught alpine skiing, telemark skiing and snowboarding for 25 years, and has not missed a season since arriving at Copper in 1989. Sakata’s hunger to train and gain available certifications quickly marked him as both a leader and dedicated instructor. His development of an on-hill training curriculum helped more than double student retention rate in just one year. The personal attributes he possesses ensured that Sakata’s private lesson request rate has not dropped below 80 percent during the past decade, which includes most years where it is above 90 percent. Sakata is consistently approached by colleagues for advice and instruction, and as such, was able to win Instructor of the Year for Colorado.
Patroller of the Year – Ryan Evanczyk, Arapahoe Basin
Ryan Evanczyk began as a volunteer ski patroller at Arapahoe Basin, proving his merit time and time again before being hired on to be a full time patroller. Each year, he has consistently improved his skill set in order to become the most productive member of the patrol. A leader in every respect, Evanczyk is considered one of the most talented snow safety technicians and forecasters in the business, and is a critical member of the team that assesses terrain stability and develops plans for staff to safely mitigate risks. His attendance at the National Avalanche School helped him attain his Level II Avalanche Certification. Evanczyk’s biggest plaudit may be the responsibility of being a member of the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Team – an honor noted by his colleagues in the field.
The Chairman’s Award went to:
Chairman’s Award – Graham Anderson, Eldora Mountain
The Chairman’s Award, chosen by the Colorado Ski Country USA Board Chairman, is an award presented annually to a person who has made extra ordinary contributions to the ski industry in Colorado. Graham Anderson – a member of the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame – was recognized for a lifetime of dedication to the ski industry. He won an NCAA Northern Championship as a ski racer with the University of Washington, refereed at both the Olympic Games and the FIS World Cup for more than a decade, and coached at numerous levels. Anderson contributed more to skiing than just the sporting aspect however. As an insurance executive, Anderson understood the critical need for ski area insurance policies and helped define and create them. His liability and property insurance expertise twice rescued the industry from liability insurance crisis, and inspired the creation of the first ski insurance program for ski areas at Snoqualmie Pass in 1964. This helped preserve and enhance skiing as we know it today. A co-owner of Boulder’s neighboring Eldora resort, Anderson is lauded by those who know him as not only a friend, but a mentor and teacher who has lived and breathed for the ski industry his entire life.