A Tour Of Northstar: COO Bill Rock On Capital Improvements, Shaun White Sponsorship

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After its acquisition by Vail Resorts  a little more than a year ago, Northstar-at-Tahoe is undergoing some major changes—so many, in fact, that it’s PR and marketing team is almost at a loss for where to start first. Taking initial steps to expose some of the positive advances the resort has made, which first and foremost begins with changing its name from Northstar-at-Tahoe to Northstar California, the resort invited a myriad of media professionals to its Northern California headquarters to see first hand what staff have been up to in preparation for the upcoming snow season.

Bill Rock, who was named chief operating officer in November 2010 and has 15 years of resort industry experience, greeted visitors with a special welcome address that outlined the $30 million in capital improvements Northstar will receive from its parent company. The resort will see a ten percent increase in overall ridable terrain, the installation of a new high-speed chairlift, a new 500 seat on-mountain restaurant and lodge, a signature restaurant, and the addition of Burton and Patagonia retail shops, as well as an expanded The North Face location, within the village. On top of that, snowboard’s poster boy Shaun White has also just signed a contract with the resort, making Northstar his home for the season, and giving the resort the opportunity to build a 22-foot, semi-private halfpipe on the property that will serve as White’s training facility for the upcoming Olympic Games, X Games, and other competitions.

“We were at a meeting with Shaun a couple weeks ago, and he is excited about being a part of Northstar,” says Rock. “Like every agreement, he has obligations he has to live up to and vice versa, but he really wants to be here and will probably be here way more than he’s obligated to, and we’re stoked to have him.”

The resort, which is scheduled to kick off the season Friday, November 18, will open the pipe to White and the public once the region receives enough natural snowfall, according to Communications Manager Jessica VanPernis. The new lift has been completed and is under testing for the next few weeks,  while Zephyr Lodge is on track to open before Christmas, VanPernis says.

On the heels of Vail Resorts’ launch of EpicMix technology last season, Northstar is also implementing the program and building on the technology with the use of EpicMix Photo. “It basically changes your whole experience; it’s a game changer as far as we’re concerned,” says Marketing Director Davy Ratchford. “We will have fifteen to twenty photographers on any given day on the mountain who will take your picture for free. They can scan your pass and that photo is automatically uploaded to your profile. That’s an incredible marketing tool.”