Colorado Ski Country honors industry's best

By Real Aspen
June 13, 2011

Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) acknowledged outstanding industry professionals at its second annual Double Diamond Awards Reception in June.

This year’s event concluded a full day program for the Colorado ski industry at CSCUSA’s 48th Annual Meeting in Aspen, Colorado. The industry trade association honored snow maintenance professionals, athletes, instructors, and patrollers with this year’s awards, celebrating their leadership and hard work during the 2010-11 ski season.

Aspen Mountain groomer Alan Burnham and Aspen Skiing Company CEO Mike Kaplan.
Jeremy Swanson

Each year, coaches, resort supervisors and managers nominate one outstanding candidate from each category from their respective resorts. The CSCUSA committee of judges, comprised of industry peers, then chooses award finalists based on a number of factors, including the individual’s application letter and interview. Final judging criteria include professionalism, dedication, contribution, leadership and attitude.

Double Diamond Award recipients this year ranged from industry veterans to up-and-coming winter athletes and terrain professionals. Double Diamond Awards were given in the categories of: Terrain Master, Slope Groomer, Snowmaker, Instructor, Patroller, and All-Star Athlete. CSCUSA ended the evening by bestowing the organization’s annual President’s Award.

Double Diamond Awards for snow professionals went to:

Terrain Master – Debbie Caves, Copper Mountain

Debbie Caves found her path into the industry by plowing snow so she could increase her days on the slopes. In 1995, Debbie began her career as a professional groomer, and within three years had been invited to dabble in the parks and pipes arena. While grooming and helping build in the parks was always a part of her job, her passion and dedication lay strictly in the half-pipe. Debbie and her small elite class of operators that build and maintain the half pipes have been consistently recognized as some of the best in the business, and Copper continues to benefit from this team’s passion and expertise each year.

Slope Groomer – Alan Burnham, Aspen Mountain

Alan Burnham, a snowcat operator, has been with Aspen Skiing Company for almost a quarter of a century. His history with the Aspen Skiing Company started in 1986, when he was hired by Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. Through his early years, Alan guided skiing, performed snow safety/control work and operated the tour cats. Two years later, he was hired on with the grooming department, where he has been ever since. Having spent many hours working and playing on the mountain, Alan has imparted his wide range of mountain experience to others, and continues to share his knowledge of the mountain with guests and employees alike.

Snowmaker – Sabrina Straszewski, Copper Mountain

Before coming to Colorado and Copper Mountain, Sabrina was a snowmaker and groomer in New Mexico. She worked her way up through the ranks quickly after five years of honing her skills. At the beginning of the 2001 season, Sabrina came to Copper Mountain, and has since worked dual roles as a snowmaker and groomer. Day in and day out, Sabrina proves to be one of the most well rounded snowmakers in the industry. She has worked out on the slopes, hauling guns and hoses with a snowcat, valving and checking lines, and controlling and assisting with new snowmaking lines. Her constant drive to be the best has helped her succeed, while holding her peers to her same high standards has enabled the Copper Mountain team to achieve excellence year after year.

The Double Diamond Award for Athlete of the Year went to:

Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year – Katie Hartman, University of Colorado

Katie Hartman is a natural leader both on and off the slopes. As Team Captain for the University of Colorado (CU) Ski Team for the past two years, Hartman helped lead her team to the NCAA title. The team dedicated the victory to its former teammate Spencer Nelson, last year’s CSCUSA All-Star Athlete of the Year, who passed away in August of 2010. Hartman recently won Gold at the World University Games in Turkey in the Downhill event, and had a chance to win the Super-G before hitting a rut and tearing her ACL. Ranked in the top 25 in the US in each of the Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom events, Hartman also has an incredible passion and drive to help others succeed, which resonated during her interview. She is President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a committee made up of athletes from the different sports teams at CU, helps local elementary school children through the Read with Buffs program, and participates in Buff Hugs – a school program that visits local children’s hospitals. While injured with her ACL tear, Hartman made it a point to remain connected with her teammates and her sport, while still committing to her off-slope philanthropic regiment.

The Double Diamond Awards for Instructor of the Year and Ski Patroller of the Year went to:

Instructor of the Year – Jonathan Delk, Eldora

Jonathan Delk began his career as a ski and snowboard instructor with Eldora in 2004. Since then, Delk has quickly risen in both guests’ and managements’ esteem. He is frequently requested by the return-client base, and now has both snowboard and ski instruction certification. After becoming Children’s Ski School Director, he became the Training Manager for the overall Ski and Snowboard school, and is often trusted to run the day-to-day operations of the Snowsports School. A knowledgeable and passionate individual, Delk has consistently gained the trust and respect of his guests and his colleagues.

Patroller of the Year – Joey Riefenberg, Loveland

Joey Riefenberg has been with the Loveland Ski Patrol since 1983, when he began as a Junior Patroller (now Young Adult Patroller). He is a second-generation patroller for Loveland, as both of his parents patrolled at Loveland for more than 30 years. Throughout his career, Riefenberg has been an instrumental piece in bridging the gap between the paid and volunteer patrollers at Loveland. His personality and ability to challenge others to perform to the best of their ability has been repeatedly commented upon, while his compassion for the injured is unparalleled. As lead trainer for the Recco Rescue system, Riefenberg instructs all patrollers in the proper use and deployment of the Recco unit. He also participates in local career fairs, explaining to others the various opportunities in the ski industry. A leader in every sense of the word, Riefenberg heads the patrol when patrol management leaves the ski area, and was an instrumental part of developing Loveland’s current Pre-sweep and Sweep procedures, which ensure a safe environment for guests and employees alike.

The President’s Award went to:

President's Award – Cindy Dady, Echo Mountain

Cindy Dady, an industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience in ski area operations and management, is the General Manager of Echo Mountain ski and snowboard area. As general manager, Dady is one of only a few women to hold the highest-ranking position at any Colorado ski resort, representing a growing trend of women serving in high-level posts within the state's ski and snowboard industry. Dady's career path includes eight years with Intrawest Corporation as the Ski and Ride School Operations Manager at Winter Park Ski Resort and Vermont's Stratton Mountain Ski Resort. In that role, Dady created an operationally excellent business unit that consistently exceeded volume, revenue and profit expectations, and successfully developed and implemented a registration process resulting in a 20 percent increase in overall guest satisfaction over a three-year period. One of the hardest working individuals and a developing star within the Colorado ski industry family, Dady’s leadership has provided inspiration for many both inside and outside of her home resort of Echo Mountain.


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