Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs After a decade of early morning blogging, Riley Polumbus turned in her final Straight Talk ski report Monday — and it didn’t contain the word “champagne.”
“What a day it is here ... no, it’s not a deep powder day, but I’ve had my fair share of those. The clouds look threatening over the Flat Tops, and there is a slight chance of snow,” Polumbus wrote on the Steamboat Ski Area’s website after taking a few early mountain runs.
“Right now the clouds are pretty thin above us, so the sun is shining down on us. I have to smile at the fact that the sunniest place as far as I can see is right here on the mountain.”
Straight Talk is the ski area’s blog version of a morning ski report, where a real local skier scouts out favorite runs with good conditions and describes the experience. Riley came here a little more than 11 years ago and took on the role of a straight-talker six months into her residency in January 2001. She started out doing four reports a week, but estimates she averaged two days a week for most of the past decade. She probably has posted more than 350 Straight Talk reports during her time in Steamboat.
Riley didn’t mention whether the wind in her face caused her to shed a tear as she swooped down Heavenly Daze and said goodbye to her mountain.
Riley is off to a new job, a new state and, more significantly, a new mountain (the editor prefers that I refer to her as Polumbus, but I just can’t do it).
The woman who has helped to polish the image of the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Yampa Valley Medical Center and many other public relations clients is headed north to Montana to become public relations manager for Whitefish Mountain Resort.
I know it’s presumptuous of me to refer to Mount Werner as Riley’s mountain, but don’t we all feel that way just a little bit?
Riley and her brother, Nick, grew up in Evergreen skiing Winter Park with the Buffalo Ski Club. Ultimately, Nick grew up to work in the marketing and sales department at the Killington ski area in Vermont at the same time Riley was working in the public relations department at Steamboat.
“We were both working for the American Skiing Co. at that time,” Riley observed.
Whitefish, which is not far from Glacier National Park and the Canadian border, welcomes train travelers from Portland, Ore., and Seattle, who climb aboard a single train in Spokane that delivers them to the historic railroad depot in Whitefish. The ski area also draws well from Calgary, Alberta, Riley said. Whitefish has one of the coolest logos in ski country — a trout with a snowy mountain range in place of its dorsal fin.
When American Skiing Co. sold Killington a few years back, Nick Polumbus moved to — you guessed it — Whitefish, where he is director of sales and marketing.
If it sound like an inside hire, Riley said she had to go through several rounds of interviews on the phone and in person, not just with her younger brother, who now is her boss, but with key executives at Whitefish. She also skied with the director of operations and the human resources director and presumably showed them how we turn ’em both ways in Steamboat.
As devoted as she is to skiing on Mount Werner, Riley said a perfect day in the ’Boat for her is mountain biking with friends on Emerald Mountain.
“I’m definitely going to miss that,” she said. “Steamboat has given me the opportunity to grow professionally, personally and athletically. I’ve been able to blossom as a cyclist, a skier and a hockey player. It’s been all that I could have asked for.”
I can predict with confidence that Riley Polumbus’ engaging personality will win over locals and guests alike at Whitefish. And you’re all invited to sleep on her living room floor.
All aboard for Whitefish!
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com