Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) acknowledged outstanding industry professionals at its fourth annual Double Diamond Awards Reception yesterday evening. The ceremony marked the conclusion to a milestone 50th Annual Meeting for the Colorado ski industry’s trade association. The Double Diamond Awards are CSCUSA’s hallmark event that allows industry professionals to come together and honor snow maintenance professionals, athletes, instructors, patrollers and industry legends. This year’s honorees ranged from a 14 yr-old straight-A student to a United States Senator. Bestowing the honors upon the winners, and presenting alongside President and CEO of CSCUSA, Melanie Mills, was longtime Colorado ski icon Billy Kidd of Steamboat Springs. Kidd was the first male athlete to win a medal at the Olympics in downhill skiing. Plenty of other industry representatives were on hand at the History Colorado Center to celebrate the 2012-13 season, and witness the best in Colorado’s ski industry be acclaimed.
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, Terrain Master, Instructor, Patroller, and All-Star Athlete. CSCUSA ended the evening by bestowing the organization’s annual President’s and Chairman’s Awards.
Double Diamond Awards for snow professionals went to:
Slope Groomer – Steve Fischer, Aspen Mountain
Fischer, who has worked for Aspen Skiing Company for 23 years, found his way into grooming after beginning at Aspen Mountain at the age of 21. In the years since, he has covered virtually every on-mountain task, from building runs and terrain parks to creating venues for World Cup events. His passion has been described as second-to-none, and through his longtime service, inspires fellow co-workers to put in the long hours necessary to create some of the best slopes in the world.
Snowmaker – Tucker Roberts, Crested Butte
Roberts has just completed his 12th season working as a graveyard snowmaker, two years after becoming Crested Butte’s only full-time employed snowmaker. During this time, Roberts worked a grueling schedule, spending his spare time surveying scenes and trying to understand even more to become better at his expertise. Taking into account water availability to energy demands, pump capacities to line configurations are all part of the process for Roberts – all in pursuit of a superior product.
Terrain Master – Chris Whitson, Winter Park
After falling in love with machinery at an early age after receiving his first Tonka Truck, Whitson was set on a path that would determine his career choice. He became a Terrain Park Crew Member at Winter Park, and after two seasons of snowmaking, became an operator. He soaked in as much knowledge as possible during his stint as an operator, and now has been a full-time Terrain Park Groomer for four seasons, creating his own unique style along the way. Some of his features are among the most recognizable at Winter Park, and he continues to study design theories to improve guest experience.
The Double Diamond Award for the Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year went to:
Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year – Storm Klomhaus, Winter Park Competition Center
Despite only being 14 years old, Storm Klomhaus of Winter Park Competition Center has compiled a number of athletic triumphs. She competes for the USSA Team Academy at the Under-16 level, and won the Rocky/Central Junior Championships on the heels of recovering from injury. This past year she qualified for the Under-16 Nationals for the second time, despite her young age. She also recently won the Overall category at the Under-16 Nationals.
Klomhaus is also an excellent student. She has just skipped the 8th grade and is now classed as a freshman at the USSA TEAM Academy, having already begun summer classes to get ahead for the upcoming ski season. She is a straight A student, and has plans to complete as much schooling as possible in addition to her ski-racing career.
The Double Diamond Awards for Instructor of the Year and Ski Patroller of the Year went to:
Instructor of the Year – Ashley Sifers, Ski Granby Ranch
Ashley joined the Ski Granby Ranch team after working with the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park for nine years. She is extremely passionate about converting never-ever skiers and riders into committed guests that will embrace the sport and return year after year. Her understanding that one incredible experience on the snow for adults and/or children will create smiles and memorable experiences that will last a life time for the guest. Her passion for this concept was one of a number of reasons she was selected as Instructor of the Year. Once at Ski Granby Ranch, Ashley focused on helping the resort grow their private lesson products over the prior year by 28 percent, and managed to help hit a conversion rate of lessons to all skiers at 10 percent for last season.
Patroller of the Year – Jake Ziemski, Arapahoe Basin
Patroller of the Year Ziemski came highly recommended from his nominating supervisor. He is a member of the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Team, has his Level II Avalanche Certification and has attended the National Avalanche School. He is well known at his ski area for consistently trying to achieve more as he prepares his safety measures. In part due to his preparatory nature, Ziemski was part of one of the most incredible life saving actions ever seen at his ski area, and as a result was awarded the National Ski Patrol Blue Merit Star.
The President’s Award went to:
President’s Award – Ken Kowynia, United States Forest Service
The President’s Award is chosen by the CSCUSA President, and gives the organization the chance to recognize individuals who have shown dedication, passion and commitment not just to the ski industry and winter sports, but to the CSCUSA association overall. The President’s Award is a way for the ski industry to say thank you to individuals who have supported the association and its purpose, and who have made a distinctive impact and impression.
Kowynia, recently retired from the United States Forest Service, has been a consistent partner who worked closely with the association and the industry as a whole. During his career, he helped plan and coordinate the development of terrain and improvements at a number of Colorado ski areas, including Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Steamboat, Telluride and Winter Park. His extensive knowledge helped ski areas remain accessible and enjoyable for guests from across the nation, and his work remains evident in the extensive access the public has to the nation’s outdoors recreational areas.
The Chairman’s Award went to:
Chairman’s Award – United States Senator Mark Udall, D-Colorado
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.
United States Senator Mark Udall was a steadfast friend to the Colorado ski industry in the past year, recognizing the importance of tourism to the state’s economy and raising issues that were of vital importance to the Colorado ski industry. He has been a strong advocate for the industry in Washington D.C., including carrying the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act in late 2011. The bill allows a more streamlined process for ski resorts to build summer improvements. Due to the political climate in the nation’s capital, Sen. Udall persisted and brought the bill back three different times before it finally passed and was signed into law by President Obama. He is a strong natural resources supporter, and outspoken advocate for the ski industry.