The first day of the MSAA (Midwest Ski Area Association) annual conference is in the books and there is a ton to talk about! I was honored to be the opening keynote speaker for the first in-person ski conference since the pandemic abruptly shut down the industry in March 2020.
I spoke about my passion for Midwest skiing and told our story of how and why Midwestskiers.com was born. I also highlighted how ski resorts stepped up in a time of uncertainly and ended up having one of the best seasons on record. If you want to check out the opening highlight video, you can view it below.
Day number included great discussions and presentations highlighting the state of the industry and what Midwestern resorts will be keeping from a year unlike any in skiing history. Online ticketing, food menus, group lessons, & even tailgating were discussed. I'll be breaking all of that down in a future video on our Youtube page, but let's just say I'm excited for where the Midwest scene is heading!
I also got to check out all of the new technology for next season and great things are coming down the pipeline! It's great to see Midwestern resorts utilizing more technology in and around their hills.
The day then concluded with some very special awards. David Thomas received the 2021 MSAA Impact Award for his thirty-plus years at Hyland Hills. David was influential in creating an environment of continuing education when he developed his "Midwest Ski Lift Awareness" conferences back in the late 80s. These would later become the very conference that we are that this week. When Dave and others shared some of his amazing stories it became clear how important Dave was in educating, uplifting and inspiring others that work in the industry.
The 2021 MSAA Jim Vanderkelen Achievement award was presented to Arnold (Jim) Vander Spoel. Jim started in the ski industry in 1973 as a rental shop manager and ski instructor at Rapid Ski Club. The following year Jim found himself at Cannonsburg helping in any way that he could. Jim went on to attend Gogebic Community College under their Ski Management Program. Jim went on to work at Blackjack as a Mountain Operations Manager, but he would find his lifetime employer in 1978 with Gogebic Community College.
Gogebic initially hired Jim on a 180-day contract to install a chairlift on Mt. Zion - forty-three years later he is still there. Jim began teaching at the college one year later and end up instructing hundreds of ski industry students. Although I have not worked with Jim personally, his name is iconic in the ski industry. Listening to his passion for the ski industry, his students, and his teaching was inspirational.
It was a great day! I can't wait to share more info with all of you in some upcoming videos.