At Ski New Hampshire’s Annual Conference and Trade Show at Church Landing in Meredith, NH, ski area members and industry partners came together during an awards dinner to honor exemplary people who have made invaluable contributions to New Hampshire’s ski industry.
This year’s awards recipients included J. Douglas Irving and Dan Carbonneau from Gunstock Mountain Resort, Karen Dolan and Tricia Garcia of Cranmore Mountain Resort, Nordic ski coach Steve Olafsen, Rene Pelletier of the NH Department of Environmental Services, and Jay Scambio of Loon Mountain Resort.
Ski NH recognized seven individuals for their contributions to New Hampshire’s ski industry. The 2019 award winners included long-time Operations Director from Gunstock Mountain resort, J. Douglas Irving, who passed away on July 24, 2018, and who was viewed by many as the heart, soul, and backbone of Gunstock Mountain Resort. Irving was one of two to be recognized for the H.H. “Bill” Whitney Award. Karen Dolan, the second 2019 recipient of the Whitney Award, was recognized for having dedicated over 40 years to Cranmore’s Snowsports School. Dolan has served as Director of Snowsports for Cranmore Mountain Resort since 1990. The Al Merrill Award was presented to Steve Olafsen for his contributions to cross country skiing programs throughout New Hampshire. The Chandler/McLane Government Service Award was awarded to Rene Pelletier for his work with NH ski areas during his tenure at the NH Department of Environmental Services.
The Next Gen Award is a new award for 2019 that was designed to salute young professionals who are achieving a successful career in the ski industry and who have distinguished themselves as future leaders within the New Hampshire ski industry. There were three winners for this year’s first-ever award: Dan Carbonneau from Gunstock Mountain Resort, Tricia Garcia from Cranmore Mountain Resort, and Jay Scambio from Loon Mountain Resort. These three award winners, nominated by their peers, have demonstrated the leadership and dedication needed to help steer the snowsports industry of New Hampshire into the future.
For further information about the award recipients and award histories please see the expanded press release below.
The H.H. “Bill” Whitney Award was established in the mid-1970s by Betty Whitney in memory of her husband, who owned and operated NH’s oldest ski area, Black Mountain, to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the ski and snowboard industry in New Hampshire. The 2019 recipients were J. Douglas Irving for his commitment to the planning and development of Gunstock Mountain Resort, and Karen Dolan for her dedication to Cranmore Mountain Resort’s Snowsports School and for teaching skiing generations of skiers.
Irving’s posthumous award was presented by Greg Goddard to Irving’s life partner Debbie Irwin—J. Douglas Irving passed away on July 24, 2018. Irving, Gunstock’s long-time Operations Director, was viewed by many as the heart, soul, and backbone of Gunstock Mountain Resort. “Doug had been with the resort for over 44 years, and lived, breathed and bled Gunstock that whole time. Doug had a hand in all the improvements to lifts, trails, buildings, snowmaking, and base lands since the early 1980s. He was a tireless advocate for the resort and its guests and had an unmatched passion for his work. He was an outstanding role model, mentor, and coach for countless managers who worked for him,” said Greg Goddard, General Manager of Gunstock Mountain Resort. Irving was especially committed to being a good land steward, working closely with the Belknap County Conservation District, the Belknap Range Trail Tenders, and numerous other naturalists and environmentalists to protect the beautiful landscapes, vistas, streams, woodlands, and wetlands which make Gunstock special. He was highly regarded by officials at the many state and local authorities he dealt with on a daily basis.
Dolan’s award was presented by Ben Wilcox, President and General Manager for Cranmore Mountain Resort. Dolan has dedicated over 40 years to Cranmore’s Snowsports School, serving as Director of Snowsports since 1990. She was the catalyst for bringing Terrain Based Learning to Cranmore’s Get Skiing and Snowboarding and KidsRule Mountain Camp programs at the resort and led the programs back to a position of prominence, receiving recognition by Ski Magazine and the Boston Globe for having one of the Best Children’s Programs in the East.
“Thanks to Karen, today’s snowsports instructors have the same passion for teaching as their predecessors and for instilling that passion to the people they teach, and they also have the same desire to grow the sport of skiing and riding in the state of New Hampshire,” said Ben Wilcox.
The Al Merrill Award was established in memory of Al Merrill to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to cross country skiing in the state of New Hampshire. Al Merrill, the "Silver Fox", was Dartmouth College's cross country ski coach and Director of Outdoor Affairs for close to thirty years.
This year’s recipient was Steve Olafsen, whose award was presented by Rob Nadeau, the 2015 Merrill Award recipient. Over the course of 20+ years of coaching, Olafsen coached the eastern teams, J2/U-16 teams, and the InterLakes High School Nordic skiing team, plus he has coordinated opportunities for Middle School Nordic skiers through the NH Nordic Coaches Association (NHNCA), creating and hosting the NH Middle School Championship. In 2016, he was awarded the NHNCA Coach of the Year award. Olafsen is the trail builder, coordinator and main groomer at the Fairground Trails for both the InterLakes ski teams and the residents of Sandwich.
“Steve’s contribution to formal ski programs is nearly eclipsed by his enthusiasm for leading youth on ski tours through the swamps and woods any time of the day, night or year. Perhaps most importantly he shares and exudes a love of skiing that last long after the kids graduate from their scholastic high school programs,” said Ski NH Board Member and Great Glen Trails Ski School Director Sue Wemyss.
The Chandler/McLane Government Service Award recognizes a person in service to the State of New Hampshire as an elected official or state agency administrator who has worked to serve the people of New Hampshire, has kept people informed as to what is happening in the process and any potential impacts, and has been a key player on issues that are important to the ski industry and to tourism in general.
The 2019 recipient is Rene Pelletier, an ombudsman within the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) who has acted as a fair negotiator between the ski industry’s development goals, the general intent of the law, the letter of the law, and the law’s underlying regulations. “Rene has been a resource for ski areas to navigate their way through the multiple layers of laws and regulations that need to be complied with in the state of NH,” said award presenter Bruce Berke of the Sheehan Phinney Captial Group.
A new award for 2019, the Next Gen Award was designed to salute a young professional who is achieving a successful career in the ski industry, has made innovative contributions to their company, has distinguished themselves as a future leader within the industry, and is currently working at a Ski NH member ski area. There were three winners for this year’s first-ever award: Dan Carbonneau from Gunstock Mountain Resort, Tricia Garcia from Cranmore Mountain Resort and Jay Scambio from Loon Mountain Resort.
Dan Carbonneau’s award was presented by Patrick McGonagle, Gunstock Mountain Resort’s Acting Operations Director. Carbonneau joined the Gunstock team in 2012 as a Mountain Maintenance Supervisor. He was quickly promoted to Mountain Maintenance Manager after being recognized early as an effective leader with a high dose of passion, curiosity, and dedication. Dan’s handling of day-to-day operations is impressive itself but what makes him stand out is his vision for the mountain. Without anyone asking, he developed a 10-year plan for continuous snowmaking improvements and is a tireless advocate for seeing that it is implemented. As a result, each year Gunstock has had more trails open earlier, the entire mountain covered faster, all while trimming over $100,000 annually in operating costs.
“Dan’s leadership and maturity are well beyond his years. His road to becoming a future industry leader is off to a flying start,” said Greg Goddard, General Manager of Gunstock Mountain Resort.
Tricia Garcia’s award was presented by Ben Wilcox. Shortly after coming to Cranmore, Garcia was promoted to Ticket Sales Manager and was instrumental in launching a new ticket point-of-sale system and e-commerce platform for the resort. Her expertise gained her attention by the other two Fairbank Group resorts and resulted in her serving as the e-commerce lead for all three resorts. She was also often looked at as the go-to person for “all things tickets” at Ski NH. Just recently she has been promoted to Operations Manager where she has begun to take over multiple departments at the resort and is a go-to Manager on Duty for the resort on a regular basis.
“I have had the pleasure to watch Tricia learn many aspects of our industry and I am excited to see what her future holds as a determined, confident leader in the New Hampshire ski industry,” said Karen Dolan, who nominated Garcia for the award.
Jay Scambio, Loon Mountain Resort’s youngest President and General Manager, was presented the Next Gen Award by Kevin Bell, Loon Mountain Resort’s Vice President of Marketing. For nearly 20 years, Jay has demonstrated leadership and a passion for Loon and the ski industry. Scambio, who started as a snowboard coach, then created the first terrain park department at Loon, moved on to Director of Mountain Sports Development for Boyne Resorts, and now leads Loon as the president and general manager, is a proven leader. In his current role, he works tirelessly to evolve the resort's offerings, improve the guest experience, all while being active in industry-wide initiatives to further its growth.
“Jay's specific examples of leadership and innovation are so lengthy, this award could be misinterpreted as a lifetime achievement award – but at 39, there’s more greatness on the horizon. As a member of his team and as someone who has known him for much of these last 20 years, I’m excited to see what happens next. He truly is the next generation,” said Bell.
Ski New Hampshire is the statewide association representing 32 alpine and cross-country resorts in New Hampshire.