Wrapping up Colorado’s 2020-21 ski season, yesterday Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) hosted its 58thAnnual Meeting and Double Diamond Awards Ceremony to celebrate excellence in the Colorado ski industry. Among the honorees were on-mountain professionals and industry veterans whose hard work, commitment and expertise made the 2020-21 season possible.
Colorado’s ski industry leaders gathered virtually to recognize and celebrate ski area employees for their outstanding performance and dedication in the pandemic impacted season.
“The Double Diamond Awards recognize the standout performers and in this pandemic impacted season, this year’s winners deserve extra recognition for their commitment, dedication and professionalism,” said CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills. “The industry’s front-line employees made this season possible, working tirelessly to keep guests safe and informed and our mountains open for the season. Congratulations to our winners and thanks to our industry’s exemplary employees!”
This year’s Double Diamond Award winners are listed below. High-resolution group and individual photos of the Double Diamond Award winners can be downloaded at https://bit.ly/3v7OxRw. Please credit all photography to each winner and Colorado Ski Country USA.
Food and Beverage Professional of the Year
Liana Aghajanian, Granby Ranch
Liana Aghajanian has worked in the food and beverage industry for more than 15 years; this was her first as Executive Chef at Granby Ranch. After a change in Granby Ranch’s ownership at the start of the 2020-21 season, she stepped in and provided leadership, vision, creativity and attention to detail to lead the culinary team. Aghajinian’s keen eye and forward thinking have elevated the dining experience for both winter and catering guests at Granby Ranch. This season, Chef Liana launched two new restaurants, including the Bluebird Bistro, which has received rave reviews across the board. Liana is also credited in advancing a successful and inclusive staff culture that fosters an environment where folks from all walks of life can succeed. General Manager Jace Wirth says, “Chef Liana leads with her passion for food and people, but she's also courageous and a true model of our ethos not only to the people that are part of our company but also the community.”
Guest Service Professional of the Year
Fred Koetteritz, Arapahoe Basin
As Assistant Manager at the Arapahoe Basin Rental Shop, Fred Koetteritz, is devoted to providing a seamless experience and a safe, supportive and healthy rental shop environment for his team members and guests. Koetteriz provides knowledgeable expertise and personable connection to each guest before they hit the slopes, setting them up for success. Fred always goes above and beyond to enrich every guest experience. His positive attitude, leadership and drive for continuous improvement as well as his excellent communication skills make him a valuable asset to the entire Arapahoe Basin resort team. A-basin Rental Shop Manager, Scott Winn and VP of Operations, Peggy Hiller say, “Fred is one of the most positive people at our ski area, he brings energy and a big smile to his coworkers and our guests. He is also a fantastic role model for his team in the rental shop and throughout the resort.”
Ski Instructor of the Year
Christina Bruno, Steamboat Resort
As a Snowboard and Ski Instructor and Adaptive Examiner, Christina Bruno brings her technical knowledge, years of experience, empathy, passion, professionalism and dedication to everything she does at Steamboat Resort. Bruno used her extensive adaptive experience and knowledge to help develop and implement teaching tools for instructors to maintain safe distances between instructors and guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of Christina, Nelson Wingard, Director of Steamboat Snow Sports School, says, “She inspires others in the way she can teach anything, anytime, anywhere; from skiing to snowboarding to adaptive, to people of diverse backgrounds, ages, and abilities. She does it all with a positive, can-do attitude, extensive technical riding knowledge, and a myriad of teaching tricks and tips.” Christina is also the proud recipient of the NSAA Breaking Down Barriers Award for expanding resources for the adaptive snowboard community.
Ski Patroller of the Year
Toby Cruse, Copper Mountain
Ski Patroller of the Year, Toby Cruse, is an outstanding role model and patroller with over 30 years of experience in the industry. As a Ski Patrol Lead, Cruse’s work is recognized and appreciated company wide. His instincts for safety, passion for guest service and determination to continue improving his skills and abilities have made him one of the most respected patrollers at Copper Mountain. Cruse maintains high standards in his work and always seeks to share his knowledge and expertise with all. Whether with a rookie or a seasoned patroller, he encourages his team to be the best they can be. “He is a huge advocate for the safety and wellbeing of his crew” says Ski Patrol Supervisor, Michael Wagenseil. “He has a high expectation of quality work and leads the charge to that end. He is quick to adapt and overcome.”
Groomer of the Year
Scott Alder, Steamboat
Steamboat has been Scott Alder’s home for the past 26 years, where he has held many roles on the mountain in both winter and summer operations. These days he excels in his role as Groomer 3 at Steamboat Resort. His technical expertise with the winch cat, used for grooming steeper trails, far surpasses many others in his field. He is humble and quiet, but the quality of his work speaks for itself. According to the Director of Slope Maintenance, Corey Peterson, Alder doesn’t just provide perfection in his operating skills but in his attitude as well. “His positivity and joy are infectious to all teammates and coworkers,” Peterson says. “In our industry, we are looking for an operator who isn’t just efficient but someone who cares about quality and providing the best experience for the guest. This is the perfect description of Scott.”
Terrain Master of the Year
Kevin Sprecher, Eldora Ski Resort
Since he joined the terrain park team last year, Kevin Sprecher has used his 10-year experience to elevate the terrain park experience at Eldora Ski Resort. Sprecher’s dedication to the industry is evident through his professionalism, leadership, creativity and team player mentality. His tireless effort and dedication to the park and to his team is remarkable. He has a great understanding of how all departments can help and support each other and is quick to assist in other departments when needed. “He built an exceptionally progressive system that incorporates all skill levels and provides opportunity for fun and challenges for every skill of skier and rider,” Snow Service Manager, Chris Cipoletti says. “His motivation to perform and lead his crew not only keeps them engaged but inspires them to work hard and encourages creativity. The efforts of Kevin and his team are what keeps the park fresh, fun and safe.”
Snowmaker of the Year
Madeline Pierce, Copper Mountain Resort
Snowmaker/Controller Madeline “Maddy” Pierce is the definition of an ambitious hard worker and extremely driven. With three years of experience under her belt at Copper Mountain, Piece has earned the well-deserved title of Snowmaker of the Year. She is celebrated for seeing the big picture while focusing on the important details of the job. She is a natural leader and elevates her coworkers to a higher level of performance with a calm and confident energy. She is an inspiration to all and shows unparalleled commitment to safety, strong work ethic and the ski industry. Of Maddy, Snowmaking Supervisor Ned Sims says, “Her work ethic is astonishing. She meets challenges head on, never straying from safe practice or protocol. There can be no doubt Maddy will be in charge someday and we are honored to see her recognized.”
COVID Safety Champion
Duncan Draper, Steamboat
Longtime Steamboat employee, Patrol Supervisor Duncan Draper receives a unique award this year- the COVID Safety Champion award for his outstanding efforts in keeping guests and fellow employees safe and educated during the COVID-19 Pandemic. His leadership is profound and Wes Richey, Patrol Director at Steamboat, says, “Duncan provides leadership to the Courtesy Patrol Team as well the medical patrol in regard to skier and rider education, enforcement and COVID-19 regulations every day.” He self-initiated the skier and rider COVID education program that directly engaged with guests waiting to board the Gondola and in the base area. His positive attitude, excellence in guest service and advocacy for safe COVID-19 practices helped guests to feel at ease while still being informed of important safety practices. Because of the widespread positive feedback, this process became an operational mandate at Steamboat during the season. With the help of Powder, the safety pup, Duncan is credited in joyfully making sure all guests “know the code.”
Jenn Rudolph, POWDR/Formerly Colorado Ski Country
The President’s Award is awarded annually to an individual who has had a profound and positive impact on the trade association itself. This year’s Award is awarded posthumously and has special significance as the honoree was a 10-year employee with Colorado Ski Country before working at to POWDR Corp for the past five years. Jenn Rudolph served as CSCUSA’s communications director providing media and consumers engaging story pitches, fun and exciting news and securing significant positive coverage of the state and industry year after year. She did it all with an infectiously positive attitude and style while valiantly battling cancer. She was beloved by all in the industry and media that she interacted with throughout her career. “Jenn passed away this spring, but she lives on in many of our communications programs,” said CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills. “Her spirit will be a part of this organization for a long time to come. We are proud to recognize her impact with the President’s Award.”
Industry Front Line Employees
To honor the front-line employees whose commitment, dedication and determination made the 2020-21 possible and successful, CSCUSA Board Chair Rob Goodell of Loveland Ski Area dedicated the Chairman’s Award, the Colorado industry’s top honor, to the front-line employees at all Colorado Ski Country USA member ski areas. “From evolving on-the-ground circumstances and regulations to constant guest education efforts, our industry’s front-line staff faced unprecedented challenges this year,” said Chairman Goodell. “From mask enforcement, to cleaning, to unforeseen challenging circumstances that required quick thinking and responses these folks had their hands full every single day and they delivered with positive attitudes and smiles on their faces. Thank you to all our industry’s frontline employees.”