Steamboat Springs Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Diamond was recognized May 2 with an award honoring a career devoted to the ski resort industry.
“It was the culmination of a spectacular season,” ski area Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Rob Perlman said Monday about Diamond’s honor, which was presented by the National Ski Areas Association on May 2 in Palm Springs, Calif. “It was just a really special presentation and awards ceremony for him to get the lifetime achievement award. He’s a tremendous leader for our industry as well as for our resort here.”
Diamond is a past chairman of the board of the National Ski Areas Association and of Colorado Ski Country USA. He is a native of New England who began his ski industry career at Killington while attending Middlebury College in Vermont. After coming to Steamboat in 1999, Diamond shepherded the ski area’s ownership transition from American Skiing Co. to Intrawest in March 2007.
He was on vacation Monday and could not be reached for comment.
Perlman, who was in Palm Springs to collect an award for the best overall marketing campaign in the ski industry on behalf of the Steamboat Ski Area for its 50th anniversary season, said among Diamond’s recent achievements has been his ability to keep the Steamboat Ski Area on a steady course through the national recession.
“To be at the helm during the Great Recession — 2008-2009, that ski season our world completely changed. We had to tighten the belt and make some tough decisions,” Perlman said.
Andy Wirth, president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Corp., said leading his team through difficult periods is an area where Diamond excels. Wirth is the Steamboat Ski Area’s former vice president of sales and marketing.
“He and I went through the best of times and the most challenging times,” Wirth said. “I recall very clearly when he came on board and things he had to endure with American Skiing Company and the grace and professionalism with which he handled them. They have been two of his never-wavering traits.”
Wirth said that when the National Ski Areas Association and Ski Industries of America split, Diamond played a major role in repositioning the NSAA for a new era.
“A lot of the DNA of that organization goes back to Chris Diamond,” he said.
And Perlman said that when he was CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA in the early 2000s and Diamond served on its board, Colorado experienced some of its busiest ski seasons, going over 12.5 million skier visits three different times.
Diamond has been a hands-on participant in major community projects that have bolstered both winter and summer tourism here. They include Routt County’s terminal expansion at Yampa Valley Regional Airport and the city’s Urban Renewal Authority that created a new stream-side pedestrian environment at the edge between the ski village and the ski slopes. Under Diamond, the ski area seized the opportunity of the new heated promenade at the ski base to build a permanent music performance stage.
Perlman credited Diamond with leading the campaign for a new general sales tax to support the winter airline program that was approved by the voters in 2011.
Diamond has been a passionate cyclist, and under his tenure the ski area has embraced and invested in mountain biking trails while lending the management expertise of its executive staff to the community’s hosting of the USA Pro Challenge road cycling race.
On the slopes, Diamond oversaw the installation of the Christie Peak Express six-pack chairlift and the redesign of the lowest slopes to create separate teaching areas for adults and toddlers, with moderate slopestyle parks. This year, Ski Corp. is undertaking the construction of the Four Points Lodge, a significant new on-slope dining facility.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com