Steamboat Springs Andy Wirth soon will be talking less about champagne powder and more about legendary steeps.
Wirth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., is leaving Steamboat to become chief executive officer at Squaw Valley USA, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and home of much-heralded steep terrain just north of Lake Tahoe in California. Wirth’s last day with Ski Corp. is July 23.
Ski Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said Tuesday that former Ski Corp. marketing executive Rob Perlman will return to Steamboat and take Wirth’s position. Perlman also will retain his senior vice president of sales and marketing position at Winter Park Resort.
Perlman could not be reached late Tuesday.
Wirth said he’s been talking with the Squaw Valley Ski Corp.’s board of directors for the past few months after being contacted by Spencer Stuart, a global executive headhunting firm. Wirth cited Squaw Valley’s “incredible history” Tuesday and said a CEO position has been a longtime objective.
“He’s a very talented guy, and he’s ready for an opportunity like that,” said Chris Diamond, Ski Corp.’s president and chief operating officer. “Anybody who’s that good is always getting and looking at opportunities.”
The move caps an impressive career path that began as a Ski Corp. intern in 1986. Or more precisely, at 8 a.m. June 2 of that year, Wirth said.
“I started working on the air program within a day or two,” he said, referring to efforts to facilitate and improve winter air service to the Steamboat area.
That work continued in various capacities throughout the next 24 years.
Wirth worked for more than two decades in marketing positions for Steamboat’s ski resort before being named chief marketing officer and executive vice president of sales and marketing for parent company Intrawest in July 2007. He returned to Steamboat as senior vice president of sales and marketing in spring 2009, when Intrawest eliminated Wirth’s position at the corporate office in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Wirth’s impacts on the Steamboat community were felt beyond his roles with Ski Corp. and Intrawest. Last week, he resigned from his eight-year position as president of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s board of directors. He’s been a volunteer fireman, a Rotarian and a member of several local economic and business groups, including the board of directors of the recently formed Mountain Village Partnership.
“I’ve got a lot of work to tie down over the next two weeks,” Wirth said.
Wirth said his move is not at all related to the financial struggles of Intrawest and its parent company, Fortress Investment Group, during the past two years.
“Our financial results as a company were stellar from this past ski season,” Wirth said.
“Some of the speculation about the financial condition of our company had nothing to do with this whatsoever.”
Wirth said the decision to leave his home in Steamboat has been an “emotional rollercoaster” for himself and his family.
Wirth married Karen deRidder in May in British Columbia. He has two sons, Jace and Cody, and a daughter, Natalie.
He said he’s confident about taking the helm at Squaw Valley.
“I’m not nervous, because it’s going to be a lot of listening and a lot of learning,” he said.
“I know there’s a great team there.”
Perlman served as vice president of sales and marketing for Ski Corp. in 2008-09. As a result of Wirth’s return to the Yampa Valley, Perlman was shifted to Winter Park Resort, which is operated by Intrawest.
He previously worked for Colorado Ski Country USA, Vail Resorts and Mammoth Mountain in California. Perlman said in a news release that he’s excited about his return to Steamboat.
“I am thrilled at the opportunity to work closely with both the Steamboat and Winter Park teams,” he said. “The Steamboat and Winter Park brands are stronger than ever and having the resorts working hand in hand will enhance our success in the Colorado ski scene.”