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Rusty Gregory says ski area flourished during holidays

January 6, 2012

The secret to Mammoth Mountain’s holiday success. Photo/Jesse Barlet

Mammoth Mountain sailed through the holidays just fine, according to ski area CEO Rusty Gregory.

In a carefully-worded memorandum to employees, dated Jan. 1, Gregory said this holiday period the ski area “completed its most successful and New Year holiday period in my 34 years on the mountain.”

Um, well, sort of.

Gregory said in an interview this week that the ski area’s “success” is in context with other dry holiday periods in the ski area’s history—not an all-inclusive, year-by-year breakdown.

“I’m sorry if some people misread that,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to hide anything, or anything like that.”

Rather, the memo had as much to do with other ski resorts throughout California, the Mountain West and New England/Upstate New York.

“I’ve never seen a season that has been this dry everywhere in the country,” he said.

Mostly, he said, the memo was meant to reassure employees that their jobs were safe and that the ski area would do everything it can to keep all three lodges—Main, Canyon and Eagle—open.

He did not mention the future of June Mountain Ski Area.

“I know that all of you are wondering how the company intends to deal with the less than optimistic outlook going forward,” he wrote.

“Here is what I know: So far, this winter is the driest on record since the 1800s. I’ve talked to the heads of major resorts in California, Utah and Colorado. Each of them are cutting back on lifts, terrain and staffing to save money. Many think that the winter of 2011-12 will never really get started and the weeks and months to come will just bring more of the same.

“Here is what I believe: We operate the best mountain in the country and we run it better than our friends at other resorts run theirs.

“Skiers want to ski and boarders want to ride. This yearning and the demand it produces doesn’t go away just because Mother Nature isn’t cooperative.

“Mammoth is the skier’s and rider’s mountain. When it snows, they will come. In my 34 years on the mountain, I’ve seen several severe drought years with little or no snow in October, November or December. It snowed by mid-January in each of those years.”

Gregory continued with a “Win One for the Gipper” screed:

“Here is what we are going to do: We are going to do the opposite of what other resorts are doing. We are not going to cut services or service to save money.

“We are going to keep everything open—Eagle, Canyon, the Village, all the current lifts and all the terrain possible. If temperatures allow snowmaking, we will add more runs and lifts as soon as we can, even if it’s during the middle of the week when crowds are light.

“We are going to keep our seasonal employees and year-round employees. If hours of work get too thin for some, we will feed each of them every night to make it possible for them to stay in town.

“We will continue to operate all our shops and restaurants every day on the regular winter schedule. Our rental shops will be renting all categories of skis and boards including demos, every day.

“We are going to do just what we did over the holiday. We are going to give our guests way more than they expect, and way more than our competition.

“We will do it the Mammoth way with big smiles, a positive vibe and the informal, authentically sincere service we are famous for. Our guests will love us for it and they will come back.”

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