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    Sessions - West      

Please note: sessions listed below are subject to change

Tuesday, January 17

12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.

Employment and Labor Law—Current Legal Issues, and What to Expect under a Trump Administration
Todd Frederickson, Partner, Fisher & Phillips LLC, Denver
Colorado’s leading labor and employment attorney, Todd Frederickson, will lead this session on current legal and regulatory issues facing the ski industry, and what to expect on the “Big Four” employment issues in the new administration- including the EEOC, the status of salary regulations under the DOL, seasonal recreational establishment exemptions from the FLSA, and the future of the NRLB’s pro-union agenda. In addition, this session will analyze the future of H2b visas and E-verify regulations under Trump. Bring your own specific labor or employment questions. Between Todd’s experiences working with some of the largest ski areas in Colorado and other resort HR personnel, there’s sure to be plenty of discussion and insights.

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

ADA Scenarios and Ski Resorts: Applying the ADA to the Unique World of Ski Area Operations
Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
Dan Cressy, Accessibility Coordinator, U.S. Forest Service
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a challenging federal statute with innumerable nuances and gray areas. This session will analyze a handful of unique circumstances (based on actual incidents) facing ski areas—both in the winter and summer context—and how resorts should analyze their duties and obligations under the ADA, as well as the impact on their guests with disabilities. From resort infrastructure, race clubs, ski school lessons, zip lines, concerts, special events, and a wide range of other circumstances, the ADA touches so many aspects of our resort operations. To minimize the risk of lawsuits or complaints, and reducing the risk of offending your guests and their families, having the benefit of understanding key distinctions in the law and the regulations, this session will be extremely helpful to all management at ski areas.

Communication Best Practices - Tools to Talk About Climate Change
Moderated by Geraldine Link, Director of Public Policy, NSAA
Katie Ertl, Managing Director, Ski and Snowboard Schools of Aspen, Aspen|Snowmass, CO
Michael Reitzell, Executive Director, California Ski Industry Association
Nathan Rafferty, President & CEO, Ski Utah
Climate change is a hot topic, not only in the media, but also with our resort guests and other stakeholders. Increasingly, front line staff finds themselves engaged with guests on this topic. Participation in the Climate Challenge, investments in operational sustainability and advocacy efforts on climate all present resort personnel with great opportunities to discuss how resorts, and guests, can be part of the solution. The most forward thinking areas are proactively arming their front line staff with the tools to engage guests in this discussion and share a consistent and solution-oriented message. Our panelists will share their experiences and successful practices for training their employees and successfully making climate change a part of everyday conversation.

Resorts Reaching Out - Attracting and Retaining Future Participants
Moderated by Earl Saline, Director of Education Programming, NSAA
Shaun Cattanach, Global Experience Manager, Burton Snowboards
JP Chevalier, Marketing and Skier Services Director, Eldora Mountain Resort, CO
Mike Smith, Adjunct Faculty/Student Teacher Supervisor, University of Northern Colorado
It's a fact that kids are important to the sustainability of the industry. As participants now and in the future, the lifetime value to the industry is far greater than someone coming in as an adult. Our panel of industry experts and resort personnel will dig into their programs and share the innovative and sometimes non-traditional strategies and tactics proving to increase participation with the youngest crowd. Whether this is taking the mountain to the community or into the schools, these programs set a new bar for engagement.

Modern Incident Investigation - Tools of the Trade
Mark Petrozzi, Principal, AlpenRisk Safety Advisors, LLC
Brian Brill, Forensic Animation Specialist, Mountain Graphix
Technology is ubiquitous and has changed virtually every aspect of resort operations. Even in the sometimes relatively low-tech realm of risk management, technology is changing the way the work is done. From laser tape measures to cell phone apps, to 3-D computer modeling, incident investigation specifically is benefitting from modern tools that are not only speeding up the process of documenting incidents but increasing the quality, consistency, and credibility of reporting. Our risk management experts will dive into the new tools of the trade available and provide direction on where, when, and how to use them to your advantage.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Learn to Ski and Snowboard / Bring a Friend Bootcamp session
Mary Jo Tarallo, Executive Director, Learn To Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend
Sam Rufo, Founder, nxtConcepts
John Brice, Principal, Snow Sports PR
Nearly everyone in the snow sports industry recognizes the importance of generating new customers. How we accomplish this is subject to many variables. Converting newcomers to “life-timers” is a journey for everyone involved in the process – resorts and consumers alike. This LSS(M)/Bring a Friend Boot Camp will address the important questions of ‘Who,' ‘What,' ‘Why,' ‘When,' and ‘How,' while digging into the cost-efficient and effective solutions this industry initiative offers to areas of all size. Are you REALLY using the LSS(M)/BAF initiative to the fullest? Find out during this lively conversation.

Show Me the Money: Generous Financing & Grant Programs for Ski Areas through the USDA
Pattie Snidow, Community & Economic Development Director, USDA, CO
Andy Daly, Managing Partner, Powderhorn Mountain Resort, CO
There are well-established low-interest financing programs—including outright grants—available from the rural development programs housed under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pattie Snidow, who works the USDA’s rural development program, will present on the variety of programs that ski areas can take advantage of for low-cost, inventive ways to finance infrastructure needs, renewable energy upgrades, building efficiency improvements, and other needs. From updating aging lifts or compressors and replacing outdated snowmaking infrastructure, to employee housing and child care—there are a host of programs (some you may never have heard of) for ski areas to leverage for their capital needs. Areas in Colorado have recently capitalized on these USDA programs for new chairlift financing, and we'll discuss their experience, and the pros & cons, of such financing opportunities.

Premise Liability: Much More than Slip and Fall (CLOSED SESSION—Ski area personnel and invited participants only)
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Moderated by Mistica Walker, Specialty Claims Adjuster, Safehold Special Risk
Adam Strachan, Principal, Strachan, Strachan & Simon, P.C
Resorts across the country are seeing a steady increase in slips, trips, and other non-ski and summer related incidents stemming from non-skiing activities. These incidents are resulting in a corresponding increase in claims and costly lawsuits. This trend is likely to grow as areas continue evolving into three and four season resorts, expanding their offerings and welcome a widening variety of guests. This session will explore the variations of laws that may apply to these incidents and how your resort can be proactive before an incident happens. Other challenges discussed will include employee awareness/execution, relationships with manufacturers, releases, and incident investigations.

Wednesday, January 18
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Media Relations - Maximizing Your Reach and Exposure with PR
John Brice, Principal, Snow Sports PR
PR, or public relations, is one of the under-utilized tools available to resort marketers. John Brice, snowsports PR specialist, will explore how positive editorial coverage in traditional news media can translate into increased revenues at ski areas, review what news media your current and potential customers consume, and how to get your ski area featured in these media channels. Examples of successful ski area media relations will be showcased and dissected to help you understand how these stories came to be printed, broadcast and posted so you can do the same. We'll look at media relations fundamentals, proven story ideas, the value of "PR Partners," media monitoring and sharing, and "7 Steps to Positive Editorial Coverage".

Employee Health Initiatives - Strategies for Reducing Employee Injuries
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Moderated by William J Curtis, Senior Vice President National Sales, Resort and Recreation, Safehold Special Risk, Inc.
Tracy Bartels, Health & Safety Manager, Breckenridge Ski Resort, CO
Mike Russo, Senior Risk Manager, Copper Mountain Resort, CO
Irv Scher, Ph.D., P.E., Guidance Engineering
With a variety of programs and equipment being touted as successfully reducing injuries, how do you know whether to believe their claims or not? Do they actually reduce the number of injuries or do they lower the potential for injuries? Bringing together an industrial engineer and ski area representatives, this session will give you a unique look at data-driven analyses and real-life results. Whether it's reducing knee injuries or reducing fatigue, there's no doubt that areas would like to find ways to reduce work comp claims of all kinds. Come prepared with an open mind and questions to find out if these are viable options for your area.

Our New Core Customers – No M Word Needed
Sponsored by Liftopia
Nate Fristoe, Managing Director, RRC Associates
Millennials and Gen Z currently account for the majority of our business. It is time to stop stereotyping and start embracing the opportunities and challenges these new generations bring to the table. Not only do these groups run the gamut from being just out of high school (age 18) to being fairly established in their careers and family (age 35), they also bring incredible variability in terms of economics, experience, and earning power. Using NSAA's generational research, Nate Fristoe, Managing Director for RRC Associates, will provide insights and suggestions for products and services that will bring these important demographic segments more firmly into snowsports and keep them coming back.

Silver Linings: The Science, Technology—and Government Subsidies—for Effective Cloud Seeding Programs
Frank McDonough, Desert Research Institute, NV
Tom Ryan, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Joe Busto, Colorado Water Conservation Board
Shaun Parkinson, Idaho Water & Power
For ski areas, climate change adaptation requires a variety of tools, and state and local governments can help with seed money to get programs started. This panel of western cloud seeding experts want ski areas to learn how easy it is to benefit from this technology, and receive generous government subsidies (from water districts across the west) to set up cloud seeding programs at their area. You will be surprised at the effectiveness of this technology, and now there are even more options, including the use of drones, for seeding clouds and boosting storm output. The panel will discuss the dramatically improved weather modification technology now available, leading to increased precipitation from storms by up to 15 percent.

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Managing Millennials - It's a Balancing Act
Laura Moriarty, SPHR, President, Tahoe Training Partners
The Millennial generation has garnered incredible attention over the past few years as they've overtaken the Boomer generation as the largest demographic cohort. Millennials are of prime working age, from age 21 to 36 according to Pew Research Center, working at your areas on the front lines all the way to senior management level. The expectations and aspirations of this group have been shaped by many forces, not the least of which is exposure to way more information than any generation before. As a result, this group requires thoughtful guidance and different management approach than what worked for previous generations. Laura Moriarty and a select group millennials will share the strategies that bring out the best in this critical segment of your workforce and inspire them to stick around, year after year.

Terrain Park Documentation and Data – What to Track & Keep and What to Toss
Moderated by Mike Bettera and Josh Chauvet, SnowPark Technologies
Mark Petrozzi, Principal, AlpenRisk Safety Advisors, LLC
David Clark, Associate General Counsel, Aspen Snowmass, CO
Michael Schipani, Terrain Park Manager, Northstar, CA
Dave Reilly, Terrain Park Manager, Steamboat Ski & Resort, CO
As terrain parks have become more sophisticated, so have the operation of those parks. Rather than reinvent everything new each year, areas and park managers are developing planning documents such as budgets, maps, Sketch-ups, and schedules using previous year’s information and data. Add to this, in-season operational documents, such as usage data, build, maintenance, inspection, and incident paperwork, and your park could now generate as much material as any other department. So, how do you know what to keep and what to toss each year? Our panel of park managers and legal experts will discuss the ins and outs of terrain park document and data retention so you can clean out those hard drives and file cabinets.

Explosives Meeting & ATF Inspections Update (CLOSED SESSION—Ski area personnel and invited participants only)
Bill O’Brien, ATF Explosives Industry Liaison
Peter Schory, Winter Operations Manager, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, UT
Geraldine Link, Dir. of Public Policy, NSAA
This session will combine NSAA’s traditional Winter Explosives Meeting with an in-depth look at the ATF Inspection process. Bill O’Brien, Peter Schory (NSAA Explosives Committee Chairman) and Geraldine Link will address strides made in addressing consistency of the ATF inspection process at the national level. They will also address emerging topics in the explosives regulatory arena including Table of Distances variances for zip lines and lift lines during periods of non-use and the reporting of unrecovered misfires or duds. Snow safety, patrol, and mountain operations personnel are ideally suited for this educational presentation.

NSAA's Beginner Conversion Study
Moderated by Rob Linde, RRC Associates, CO
Nick Herrin, Chief Executive Office, PSIA-AASI
Peggy Hiller, Vice President of Operations, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, CO
Kevin Jordan, Snowmass Children's Program Coordinator, Snowmass, CO
The NSAA Beginner Conversion Study is gathering momentum with more areas participating and increasing numbers of new skiers and riders being surveyed. Join Rob Linde, from RRC Associates, and our panel of area and industry personnel as they discuss lessons learned and how they are using the Study information to make better strategic decisions. This session will dig into the study data to help you further understand what first-time guest’s value and the importance of engagement.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Focus on Fun – The Secret Sauce Behind Success
Sponsored by Burton Snowboards
Joe Hession, President, Snow Operating
Scientific research has proven how fun can drive participation in activities. This presentation will discuss the science behind fun and its connection to creating a great lesson experience. Fun can have a variety of meanings and guests will ultimately determine whether their lesson was fun, or not. Learn how to structure a lesson to balance guest’s natural desire for achievement with their desire for steady, rapid progression.

Lift Maintenance Programs - Introducing Quality While Keeping Flexibility
Sponsored by Safehold Special Risk
Moderated by Mark Petrozzi, Principal, AlpenRisk Safety Advisors, LLC 
As high profile lift incidents have captured the media’s attention, lift maintenance and area lift maintenance programs are coming under ever-greater scrutiny. It’s now more critical than ever that the industry come together around lift maintenance programs and proactively share and develop best practices applicable regardless of resort size, location, inspection protocols, and state-to-state regulation. This session will introduce and provide insight into developing tools to help your area document procedures, design a maintenance program, and transfer the knowledge from senior lift mechanics to a new generation tasked with keeping your lifts up and operating safely.

Putting Safety Front and Center - On Mountain Safety Programs
Dave Byrd, Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs, NSAA
Earl Saline, Director of Education Programming, NSAA
Safety is paramount on the slopes, there’s no question. When you consider the variety of issues, what works for one area may not exactly work for another. At the same time, it’s a good bet that there are elements of how a program is constructed and implemented that could help you improve your efforts. Featuring NSAA Safety Award winning programs and other creative programs, this session will highlight examples from a variety of on-hill, employee and guest-focused safety programs including terrain park safety, speed and collision awareness, and others.