DENVER, Colo. – April 16, 2009 – Cheri Sanders goes to work when other ski resort employees go to bed. As the master slope groomer at Winter Park, she is one of many dedicated snow specialists who Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) recently thanked at the 29th Annual Snowmaking and Slope Maintenance Conference and Trade Show, which was held from April 6-8 in Grand Junction, CO.
Sanders, and others in her field, work diligently at resorts around the state to enhance Mother Nature in the snow making department and to create and optimize the unique terrain for which Colorado ski country is known. Each year, snow workers from Colorado's resorts nominate their own best in snowmaking, slope grooming, and terrain design for recognition of a season's work well done. CSCUSA collects nominations and tabulates votes to determine the honorees who will be awarded at the Conference.
At this year's Conference, Melanie Mills, President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, and Chris Anthony, a Warren Miller film veteran and professional skier, presented awards to a Terrain Master, Slope Groomer, and Snowmaker of the Year.
"Groomers, snowmakers and terrain masters are often regarded as the 'knights in shining armor' of the ski industry," says Mills. "Like masters of their crafts, they turn green runs white, smooth crud into corduroy, and sculpt some of the world's most elaborate terrain features. It's these efforts that help Colorado resorts to offer the best skiing and riding in the world."
Geoff Bostwick from Echo Mountain won the "Terrain Master Award." Bostwick has been the head park builder and groomer at that mountain for the past four years. Since Echo focuses on parks and terrain features, Bostwick's job is particularly important to that mountain. Geoff brought his expertise to Echo after years of building parks for Fogelfonna Summer Camp in Norway, Eldora Mountain in Colorado, and Dombai Ski Resort in Russia. Chris Harris, Echo Mountain's grooming director, said that Geoff's "knowledge and expertise" made him an ideal candidate for the award.
Sanders also picked up an award at the conference. She has been at her Winter Park post for more than 30 years and is responsible for training new workers in that mountain's slope grooming operations. About her receiving the award this year, Ron Richards, Winter Park's slope supervisor, said, "Simply put, when Cheri speaks, you listen. She has the rare ability to command respect without being loud or forceful." Since slope grooming requires a team of workers to function together efficiently, these qualities are essential to successful slope grooming.
The third prize awarded at the conference was for "Snowmaker of the Year." The art and science of snowmaking requires hard work, often in the middle of the night, and an intimate knowledge of a mountain's terrain. This year's snowmaker prize went to Scott Livingston, who is the snowmaking controller at Steamboat. He had been nominated four times previously throughout his long career as snowmaker at that mountain, but he finally clinched the award at this year's conference.
CSCUSA also presented a lifetime achievement award to one of the industry's pillars, Peter Alford. Alford has been building and designing Colorado resorts for decades. He is the owner of Alford Design Group, a company specializing in ski resorts and golf course design and management.
The Snow Conference marks a high point in the season for many snow specialists at CSCUSA's 22 member resorts. Next year's Snow Conference marks CSCUSA's 30th year hosting the annual event.