Melanie Lepow: Wirth leaves indelible mark on Steamboat ski community | SteamboatToday.com

Melanie Lepow: Wirth leaves indelible mark on Steamboat ski community

On a very warm August day eight years ago, Andy Wirth stepped into the position of CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, bringing more than 25 years of significant hospitality experience and a long list of once-in-a-lifetime accomplishments.

And on the heels of his retirement announcement, which he made in early April, he'll leave Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows as a leader, a storied business dynamo, and maybe, even the one who brought the Winter Olympics back to the region.

There was a sense of shock across the Squaw Valley community after his retirement was announced, an opportunity that Wirth says will let him to spend more time with his family and devote more attention to his philanthropic passions, which include wounded warriors and protection of the environment.

Over his tenure, Wirth has helped funnel time and capital into the Lake Tahoe community, combining Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows into a single, world-class resort worthy of Olympic hosting potential. From helping design a high-tech gondola to take skiers back and forth between the two resort sections and making improvements that earned the park numerous travel destination awards, Wirth will leave an indelible mark the California skiing community.

Before joining Squaw Valley, however, Wirth honed his vision at Steamboat Springs in the Yampa Valley, where he rose from being an intern in the mid-’80s to leaving as the senior vice president of sales and marketing. At the resort, Wirth developed and created a global strategy to make the Steamboat Springs brand one of the highest profile ski and vacation properties in the country. It remains a much sought-after destination — even today.

Spending eight years as the president of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Wirth was widely seen as steering the club to profitability. But his work in the community spanned far beyond financials. Wirth also worked directly with the regional education fund, the local 4-H club and even the town's fire protection district.

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One of Wirth's most notable accomplishments was his hand in helping fund the Yampa Valley Regional Airport's airline program, which made it easier and more attractive for skiers to travel to the resort and enjoy the powdery slopes. Through this innovative program, which used a small tax on city lodging for funding, the local airport was able to add more incoming and departing flights from major airports across the country, bolstering tourism and increasing local business.

Part of Wirth's legacy was also helping to create the Mountain Village Partnership, made up of dozens of base area businesses. Through the partnership, the business were able to promote Steamboat as an attractive travel destination in a unified voice.

Melanie Lepow

New York, New York