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Fit for Snow: The New Science Behind Resort Employee Injury Prevention

Featuring: Dr. Delia Roberts, Professor, Selkirk College, B.C.; Helen Richards, Program Leader, Wells Fargo Special Risks, CO

Dr. Delia Roberts, professor of physiology at Selkirk College in British Columbia, has been researching workplace injuries at several ski areas in British Columbia for the past three seasons, working closely with WorkSafe BC – which is like OSHA, but nicer.  Dr. Roberts’ “Fit for Snow” program has been shown to reduce injuries at resorts by between 40 to 90 percent through easily implemented measures to minimize injuries, and, in turn, worker comp premiums. Dr. Roberts’ findings from her research – which may surprise some resorts – should be more than enough to convince resort management to re-invigorate their employee safety efforts.

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Lessons from Stevens Pass’ Avalanche Tragedy: HR’s Role in Crisis Management

Featuring: Matt Troskey, Vice President of Human Resources, Stevens Pass Resort, WA

This case study examines the aftermath of the 2012 Tunnel Creek Avalanche at Stevens Pass through the lens of the human resource leadership function. Organizational abilities, interpersonal skills, regulatory compliance, and even political savvy were all put to the test in this tragedy that killed three colleagues – and friends. Matt Troskey, the resort’s Vice President of Human Resources, will lay out the facts, the resort’s post-tragedy response, the OSHA investigation, changes in risk management, and the personnel challenges after the tragedy. Stevens Pass’ sensitive and common-sense response in the face of crisis will become a model for the industry.

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Wildfires & Facilities Protection: Strategies in the Age of Climate Change and Beetle Kill

Featuring: Justin Rowland, Director, Ski Apache, NM; Peter Stearns, Director of Mountain Operations, Sun Valley, ID

With the growing danger of wildfires from drought, climate change, and the bark beetle epidemic, ski areas have never been at more risk than they are today. With a diverse panel of resort managers, forest fire experts, and architects, we will examine what steps ski resorts can – and have taken -- to combat or minimize the threat, and protect their infrastructure from wildfires. The agenda will include vegetation management, facility construction and maintenance, equipment placement, water storage, fuel reduction, and frontline strategies during fires. This is a long-smoldering issue that has received scant attention from the industry, despite the dramatic threat of climate change and the beetle kill outbreak.

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State-of-the-Art Dispatch: Winter Park’s Cutting-Edge Radio System

Featuring: C.A. Lane, Vice President of Mountain Operations, Winter Park Resort, CO Lloyd Lochridge, Mountain Planner, Winter Park Resort, CO

Resort dispatch operations are a critical – if under-appreciated – function for any ski area. But Winter Park is raising the industry bar with a very cool new radio operating system that provides significant benefits to patrol operations, risk management, and both guest and employee safety. For the past two seasons, Winter Park has implemented this new radio technology – unlike anything else in the industry – and has experienced sizeable returns on this crucial investment, including improved incident response times, asset and vehicle management, and added employee protections. With a limited upfront cost, Winter Park’s radio technology promises sizeable savings across all resort operations.

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Perspectives on Recent In-Bounds Avalanche Litigation

Featuring: Mikel Moore, Partner, Moore Cockrell Goicoechea & Axelberg, MT; Stuart Simon, American Jury Centers, Sun Valley, ID; Adam Strachan, Partner, Strachan, Strachan & Simon, UT; Paul Baugher, Ski Patrol Director, Crystal Mountain, WA

Closed Session: Ski Area Personnel Only. For the first time in decades, two in-bounds avalanche cases have made their way through the entire litigation process, with one even going to trial.  But while those cases hinged on specific allegations unique to their individual circumstances (none of which will be addressed in this session), the broader process of litigation has resulted in a fuller understanding of insights, pitfalls, and lessons gleaned from the legal process.  We have invited ASDA ski defense attorneys involved to share their broader observations with the industry, from a 10,000-foot perspective.  We’ll also hear from jury consultants hired to conduct mock trials, and how those mock juries viewed some of the key issues likely to arise in such litigation, including risk awareness, snow science challenges, and operational considerations. 

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Rental Boot Fitting Operations: The Most Crucial Link in the Retention Chain?

Featuring: Jack Rafferty, Pedorthist, Owner, Thotics, Inc., Masterfit University Senior Instructor, CO; Steve Cohen, CEO, Masterfit Enterprises, Inc., NY

The rental boot fit experience is a crucial but often overlooked factor in the skier and snowboarder retention equation. Join these veteran boot fit experts as they show how you can increase overall guest satisfaction through basic boot fit training, better staff time utilization and enhanced guest communication. Better fit rental boots create a safe and rewarding environment for your guests while ensuring skills ascension on the learning curve.

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The Tricky Business of Attracting and Keeping New Customers

Featuring: Sam Rufo, President, nxt Concepts, OH (Moderator)

Attracting newcomers to skiing and snowboarding is tricky business and keeping them is even trickier. A key component is a strategy that includes creative internal and external communications, strong support from management, a positive attitude from staff who can identify with the needs of new customers and a tracking formula to help you monitor ROI. Several industry partners in Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month/Bring a Friend have had enormous success with this approach. Find out what they did that worked and join in the conversation.

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The Graveyard Shift: The New Best Practices for Ensuring Overnight Employee Safety

Featuring: Alexander Kestly, Health and Safety Manager, Vail Resorts, CO; Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA, CO

With a recent death of a snowmaker at an Eastern resort -- and the resulting OSHA investigation -- the industry's practices for ensuring the safety of our overnight crews, including snowmakers and groomers, are under scrutiny. After an analysis of the incident and investigation, we will unveil some new best practices for resorts, designed to minimize risk and improve injury response times for our graveyard shift employees -- addressing innovative practices, PPE, and operational considerations that will, in time, reduce workers' comp costs for this critical segment of our workforce

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The Evolution of the Chinese Ski Revolution

Featuring: Justin Downes, President, Axis Leisure Management Ltd, Beijing & Hong Kong, China

According to the Chinese Ski Association, China’s Ski Resort Visits increased from 20,000 in 1996 to 10 million in 2010, and will double to 20 million by 2016. In 2007, China granted the United States 'approved destination status', which opened the doors to Chinese group leisure travel beginning in 2008. Last year, 1.5 million Chinese arrived on U.S. shores, spending nearly $8.8 billion. This session will provide insights into the impact that these trends will have on the Global Ski Industry and Chinese Skier Visits to United States.

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Strategies for Implementing Terrain-Based Learning with Generation Z

Featuring: Joe Hession, President, Snow Operating, CO

Ski and snowboard instruction needs to rapidly adapt to the realities of an entirely new demographic. As the industry embraces terrain-based learning to reinvigorate our approaches to conversion, Joe Hession – who is at the forefront of TBL movement – will analyze successful strategies that are working at resorts that are successfully using technology and terrain-based learning to connect with, and convert, the tech-obsessed, multi-tasking Generation Z, with their infamously short attention spans. This isn’t your father’s ski lesson anymore.

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Spotlight on Industry Employment & Labor Legal Issues

Featuring: Todd Fredrickson, Partner, Fisher & Phillips, CO; Jyll Lottner, Vail Resorts Labor & Employment Counsel, CO

Closed Session: Ski Area Personnel OnlyOur panel will address a handful of labor and employment legal challenges specifically facing the ski industry, including wage and hour issues, worker misclassification, discrimination and harassment litigation, leave of absence challenges with seasonal workers under FMLA, ADA, and workers comp, and, importantly, new practices involving the industry’s use of volunteers. We will also carve out time for your specific issues. Our panelists are industry heavy hitters: Todd Fredrickson provides outside employment counsel for Intrawest, and Jyll Lottner serves as in-house employment counsel for Vail Resorts’ ten ski areas.  .

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The Forecast for 2013/14

Featuring: Nate Fristoe, Operations Director, RRC Associates, CO

At NSAA’s national convention in Palm Springs, we unveiled version 2.0 of the industry growth model, as we face significant challenges from the country’s demographic transition. This will be the first opportunity to revisit the Model and assess initial results from the 2013/14 season. Are the promising pre-season economic numbers playing out as hoped? But we’ll analyze where we may stand by season’s end in terms of visitation, with an emphasis on evaluating the industry’s goals regarding trial and conversion.

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The Dope on Dope: The Impact of New Marijuana Laws on the Ski Industry

Sponsored by Frito-Lay

Featuring: Melanie Mills, President, Colorado Ski Country, CO; Rob Andrews, Vice President, Wells Fargo Special Risks, CO; Laura Mark, Special Agent, USFS Rocky Mountain Region, CO 

Closed Session: Ski Area Personnel Only. From medical marijuana to outright legalization, new marijuana laws, and rapidly changing societal views on them, have great potential to affect the industry, giving a whole new mean to the High Country experience. This panel of stakeholders – from the Forest Service, resort managers, law enforcement, and risk management – will provide their perspectives on the national implications impacting resorts, and not simply the new laws in Colorado and Washington. From public use restrictions, “pot tourism,” reckless skiing, employee drug policies, and state versus federal differences, there are 420 good reasons to hear how the industry is responding to society’s growing acceptance of marijuana.

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Driving Employee Engagement through Greater Purpose

Featuring: Mark Gasta, Executive Vice President / Chief People Officer, Vail Resorts, CO

Resorts have a unique opportunity to optimize the performance of their organization and gain sustainable competitive advantage – without incurring significant expense – by helping their employees find greater purpose in their work. Employees want to know that they work for an organization that is making a positive difference and that they have a key role in that effort. Mark Gasta, Vail Resort’s executive vice president and chief people officer, is one of the leading HR voices in the ski industry, and will explore the opportunity all organizations have to drive employee engagement by establishing a greater sense of purpose.

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Socially Rewarding: Travel + Leisure’s Digital Media Campaign Winners

Featuring: Rich Beattie, Executive Editor, Travel + Leisure Magazine, New York, NY

We have invited Travel + Leisure’s executive editor to analyze the magazine’s recent SMITTY Awards they present for the best digital and social media efforts in the travel industry. Rich Beattie, an avid skier himself, will discuss what makes for a distinguishing social media campaign that rises above the digital din within the travel and recreation industry, and what the magazine’s outside judges liked (and disliked) among the recent nominees. Innovation and creativity rule the day, with this survey of the travel industry’s most pioneering blogs, apps, twitter feeds, contests, and the freshest technology and media platforms.

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Down the Tube? Tubing Risk Management on Trial

Featuring: Mistica Walker, Claims Adjustor, Wells Fargo, CO; Jim Engle, Former Owner, Ski Sunburst, WI; Maryjo Falcone, Rietz Law Firm, CO; Mikel Moore, Partner, Moore Cockrell Goicoechea & Axelberg, MT

Injuries and claims from incidents in tubing parks are increasingly common, and not without their risk to guests – and your resort’s bottom line. Over the past several years, resorts have become more sophisticated in their understanding of construction, operation, and management of tubing parks. Jim Engle, the former owner of Ski Sunburst in Wisconsin, operated one of the largest tubing operations in the Midwest for years, and is now a frequent expert witness on behalf of resorts. He will tag-team with Wells Fargo’s Mistica Walker, to analyze potential areas of resort exposure, using a number of past incidents to help illustrate the risks involved, including design, run-outs, speed considerations, guest rules, employee oversight, and accident investigations. In a two-part session, our group will participate in a mock “speed trial” with ASDA attorneys Maryjo Falcone and Mikel Moore about putting a tubing case to the test of the legal system. (Two-part session)

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Profiting from Sustainability: Economics, Efficiency and Investor Perspectives 

Featuring: Judy Dorsey, Brendle Group, CO; Dave Belin, RRC Associates, CO

Rich with profit-driving ideas and case studies, presenters will focus on how sustainability – from the perspectives of energy and water management, waste, fleet vehicles, procurement and other topics – can help drive bottom-line savings as well as top-line growth, while also impacting balance sheets and economic indicators industry-wide. Speakers will also share investor perspectives on sustainability in the ski industry, such as integrating sustainability into overall financial performance modeling.

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The Business Case for Climate Change Action and Advocacy

Featuring: Judy Dorsey, Brendle Group, CO, Moderator; Matthew Banks, Senior Program Manager – Energy & Climate, World Wildlife Fun- U.S., D.C.

The NSAA Climate Change Policy has long helped guide its efforts to address climate change, calling for efforts on multiple fronts including advocacy, education, science-based solutions and partnerships. Starting from the perspective of industry-level advocacy, national experts will discuss energy and climate change legislation, the business case for climate mitigation and managing risk in the face of an already changing climate. Next, participants in NSAA’s Climate Challenge – which now includes 20 resorts – from both east and west will report out on their progress, benefits realized and lessons learned from addressing their own climate change impacts.

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Staying on Message: Sustainability in Branding and Communications 

Come hear lively discussion about customer opinions on environmental sustainability and their continued recognition of high-performing resorts. Speakers will share their perspectives of the latest research on consumer preferences and sustainability - including expectations from millenials - as well as sustainability in branding and communications, social media and how to keep communications authentic in the face of external scrutiny. Next, NSAA supplier members will share how they’re putting branding and sustainability into play to resonate with savvy consumers.

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Environmental & Regulatory Compliance: Reducing the Impact on Nature and Your Resort’s Bottom Line

Featuring: Zeke Williams, Managing Director, Lewis, Bess, Williams & Weese, CO

Facilities and mountain operators need to be well-schooled about the heightened – and costly – environmental enforcement efforts increasingly pushed by both state and federal regulators. From waste and pollution management, storm water regulations, fuel storage tanks, and air and soil contamination, the complexity of environmental regulation and the impact on our environment warrants serious attention. Zeke Williams, a ski industry attorney and expert in environmental and water regulation and litigation, will analyze recent environmental compliance issues involving ski areas, and recommend strategies for resorts to promote environmental compliance and minimize expense.

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Optimizing Mountain Operations: Energy Cost Reductions by Analyzing Snowmaking Metrics

Featuring: Jeff Cullinane, Finance & Business Development, Intrawest Resorts, CO; Mike Leonard, Efficiency Vermont Investment Corp., VT

Snowmaking, by far, is one of the biggest energy hogs. Jeff Cullinane, a finance and efficiency expert at Intrawest Resorts, has implemented hugely successful snowmaking energy monitoring programs at Stratton and Snowshoe, resulting in reduced energy costs of more than ten percent, with savings of up to a hundred thousand dollars in just one season. By vigilantly tracking key metrics and smartly forecasting demand and consumption, Intrawest will discuss how it has achieved sizeable energy reductions in snowmaking. Jeff will tag team with experts from Efficiency Vermont, who advocate a similar Snow Energy Index system which laser-focuses on continuous energy improvements in snowmaking through tracking water, air, and kilowatt usage, and real-time adjustments designed to achieve significant energy reductions. Efficiency Vermont will also unveil results from an analyses on a spectrum of snow guns, and highlight behavioral changes that can be implemented on-the-fly to lower energy costs.

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Building For a Better Future: Continuous Energy Improvements for Ski Area Buildings

Featuring: Jeff Cullinane, Consultant, Vermont Energy Investment Corp., VT; George Lawrence, Vermont Energy Investment Corp., VT

Believe it or not, buildings and structures in the United States constitute the largest source of emissions in the atmosphere from a climate change perspective. We have invited two experts from Vermont Energy investment Corporation (VEIC), a non-profit consulting firm that administers energy efficiency and sustainable energy utilities in Vermont, Ohio, and Washington DC. This session will hone in on ways resorts can better manage energy use to continuously improve energy performance in ski resort buildings – base lodges, condos, resort restaurants and all aspects of mountain operations. There will be an emphasis on applying the proper management framework to enable your resort’ staff to set goals, identify opportunities and make changes to save energy.

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