Fired ski rep says he was 'stunned'

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— Longtime Steamboat-based ski industry executive Charlie Mayfield said he was focused on improving Colorado's stature with some challenging segments of the vacation ski market when he got the bad news Mayfield was fired April 10 from his position as the marketing chief for Colorado Ski Country USA.

Mayfield said he was stunned when his boss, David Perry, gave him the news.

"You're always vulnerable (when there's a change at the top)," Mayfield said. "But I thought we had already recognized some things that needed to be done, and we were doing fine," Mayfield said.

Before going to Ski Country USA to work for Perry's predecessor, John Frew, Mayfield was a top marketing executive with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. He had worked his way up to that position after starting his ski-industry career as a ski patrolman.

Mayfield said that late this ski season he had been working on strategies to improve Colorado's success with two segments of the population in which Colorado's ski areas aren't doing as well as they'd like.

"We're doing fine with mom, dad and the kids," Mayfield said. "But we need to do better with the independent singles age 25 to 45 that Colorado's not seeing as much of any more."

The other segment where Colorado is underachieving, he said, is among the growing legion of snowboarders. Nationally, snowboarders make up 24 percent of the visitors to traditional ski mountains. In Colorado, that figure is just 17 percent.

Perry and Mayfield were in Steamboat together for a conference at the Steamboat Grand in February, and Perry stressed both of those themes in a speech to the Steamboat Ski Area's airline partners. Perry said at the time that Colorado Ski Country is busy "re-branding" Colorado to appeal to a more youthful audience. That effort is being undertaken with the blessing of 14 ski areas which are represented on his board of directors, Perry said.

The weakness of the Canadian dollar against other currencies helped Whistler/Blackcomb grow, Perry said. But its success also had much to do with building demand for the product, he said.

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