Charles Skinner Jr. has officially closed on acquiring both Indianhead and Blackjack ski areas in Michigan's Upper Penninsula. As a result, Big Snow will transition to Snowriver Mountain Resort, the Indianhead area will be called Jackson Creek Summit, and Blackjack will be Black River Basin. "There are two motivating factors for the coming name changes", stated Skinner. "The first is a sensitivity to Native American culture. And the second is to eliminate confusion as the name Big Snow is used by another ski operation. We also feel the name changes help signal a new era of capital investment at Snowriver."
This acquisition will bring the Skinner family's total ski area count in the Midwest to four. The new group will now be called Midwest Family Ski Resorts. In addition, as a result of the acquisition, the group will now offer a Legendary Pass product for unlimited skiing and riding at Granite Peak, Lutsen Mountains, and both Snowriver ski areas for the 2022-23 season. Guests can upgrade from the Gold or Silver passes before the end of this fall.
With the acquisition, Skinner and his daughter Charlotte Skinner have created a cross-company team of managers called Midwest Family Ski Resorts, which will manage the properties under their ownership. With an MBA from Columbia University and finance experience at public technology companies, Charlotte will take on the Chief of Staff and Chief Financial Officer role and report to her father, the President, and CEO (Chief Executive Officer). Jim Vick, current GM & Marketing Director at Lutsen, will take on the Chief of Ski Terrain role. Vick will ensure excellence in grooming, snow quality, and varied terrain across the resorts. Greg Fisher, current GM & Marketing Director at Granite Peak, has been named Chief Marketing Officer. Fisher will direct all marketing, communications, and advertising for the properties. Vick and Fisher will maintain their General Manager roles and be based at Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak, respectively.
In addition, Amanda Plummer has been named Chief Data Officer (based at Lutsen), and Caitlin Eisch, has been promoted to the Chief Employee Experience Officer. Several other key managers have been named to cross-company roles as well.
A Hint at a Future Ski Area Connecting Lift?!
The press release also hinted at a new connecting lift in the future, mentioning, "Snowriver will continue to offer a single lift ticket for the entire resort and to provide shuttle transportation until a connecting lift is constructed."
Connecting lift?! A connecting lift has been discussed among the community for years, and although we are still far from this being a reality, this gives us just a peek into the future of what Snowriver could look like in the coming years. Depending on the alignment of this lift, it would be between 6000 - 7500 feet in length - making it the longest lift in the Midwest. The current longest is Lutsen's Summit Express at just under 4900 feet.
Congratulations to the Skinner family. I can't wait to see what the future hold for all four of your ski areas!
If you want to read the entire press release, you can download it below.