The Mountain Times

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Powdr Corp. announces new leaders at Killington

Mike Solimano is the new president and general manager of Killington Resort and Pico Mountain, a position he assumed on September 24.

The former director of finance and revenue, Solimano assumes the duties of Chris Nyberg who has been named president and chief operating officer of Powdr Corp.'s new resort division.

Former Powdr COO Herwig Demschar has been named senior vice president of business development for Powdr.

In an official Powdr Corp. press release, CEO John Cumming commented, "One of the key factors of any successful company is hiring and retaining amazing people. Herwig, Chris and Mike have been instrumental to the success of our company, and I am excited for the opportunities that lie ahead as we continue to provide the best experience to our guests and grow participation in the sport."

Powdr Corp. has become the largest U.S. private owner-operator of mountain resorts (based on annual skier visits) and action sports camps in North America over the last several years. Headquartered in Park City, Utah, Powdr currently owns and operates eight mountain resorts and also owns and operates Woodward Camps in four U.S. locations. Other top-ten ski area owners either are public companies (i.e.,Vail Resorts) or are corporations that have an array of ownership forms such as real estate investments trusts (REITS).

With its expansion and growth in recent years, which includes Outside Television and more recently the addition of Woodward Camps - Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania; Woodward West in Tehachapi, California; Woodward Tahoe at Boreal Resort in California; and Woodward at Copper in Summit County, Colorado - and in addition to its resort growth, Powdr has restructured to create a more formal structure with three divisions. The resorts division is the largest with Woodward Camps and Outside Television the newest divisions.

Demschar will pursue special projects and growth opportunities for all divisions. Demschar was a key figure in the international sporting world prior to joining Powdr and working with Cumming.

Chris Nyberg has assumed the COO duties previously held by Demschar, who also joined Powdr in May 2007. As COO, Demschar visited Powdr's various resorts for two or three days at a time several times a year, checking in on how mountain operations were going and communicating with various people or town boards as needed - including SP Land President Steve Selbo, about the proposed village at Killington. His responsibilities included implementation of Powdr's business model and best practices and assisting managers with strategic planning.

Nyberg will have more expansive duties than those previously held by the COO. As president of Powdr resorts, he takes responsibility for all aspects of the resorts division, including oversight of day-to-day resort operations, which will allow John Cumming to "focus on growing the other two Powdr divisions and the other businesses that the Cumming family is involved in," Nyberg explained.

Cumming will work in a newly created office space where "he and Demschar and others will focus on growing Woodward Camps and Outside Television. There are some good opportunities out there," Nyberg continued. This is an indicator that Powdr Corp is a company to watch as it generates interest among a younger demographic which is needed to re-energize and bolster the ski industry.

In assuming these duties, Nyberg will continue to work with Killington and Pico, as well as with all the other Powdr resorts, all of which will benefit from a team approach and his broad experience in the industry.

Nyberg joined the Powdr team in May 2007 when Powdr Corp purchased the two eastern ski areas from ASC and he was appointed president and GM of the newly formed Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC.

During his tenure at Killington, he oversaw more than $20 million invested in resort improvements. A true "mountain man" Nyberg enjoyed exploring both mountains on foot. When he came to Killington, one of his first goals was to "fix what was broken" and to upgrade the entire guest experience, from arrival and restroom stops to snow conditions.

The Skye Peak Express Quad, major snowmaking infrastructure and efficiency improvements, implementation of The (Burton) Stash, expansion of parks and pipe, recovery from Irene and the implementation of the Roaring Brook Umbrellas Bars and Deck, as well as plans for the Killington Peak Lodge and preparation to build the new facility were among the more noticeable upgrades as were renovations of the Killington Grand Hotel and Spa. Other enhancements include Yurt dining, the Motor Room experience, cat-drawn sleigh rides, a new tubing park, and many behind-the-scenes changes that improved the quality of infrastructure as well as the resort experience.

Pico Mountain also saw improvements with major snowmaking and grooming upgrades among them and the area was returned to profitability with its five-day operations schedule and less expensive tickets and season passes.

Solimano will now take over those reigns. For the past 12 years, Mike Solimano has been director of finance and revenue and was instrumental in achieving the recent on-mountain and guest-service improvements as well as implementing the Powdr business model at both resorts, Nyberg noted.

Solimano brings a diverse background and many years of experience to his new job. He hails from Chester, NJ where, as one of six boys, he skied at local areas and worked at Great Gorge. He graduated with a degree in accounting and information systems and worked at the Boston office of Deloitte & Touche as an audit manager before he joined Skis Dynastar, Inc. in Burlington, Vt., where he was vice president of finance and operations. In 2003, he joined Killington overseeing eight departments, including: cash, finance, budgets, audit, accounting, MIS (Management Information Systems), purchasing and stockroom. As a member of the Executive Team, he worked closely with Nyberg and other directors, noting he will continue to work with Nyberg closely.

Solimano said he is "excited about this new challenge" and also looks forward to "working with staff, the community, and Steve Selbo on the village as the mountain continues to improve with its exciting plans."

Solimono resides in Rutland with his wife Cara, son Connor (12) and daughters, Hannah (9) and Lauren (7.) All are avid skiers and active in the community. All three children participants in the Pico Ski Club racing program.

Nyberg commented that while he will miss Vermont, he will be returning to visit the resorts and continue to work with the Killington team on strategic plans and implementation of new ideas. He looks forward to living in Park City where he and his wife, Jackie, will be closer to their two daughters and two grandchildren.

Nyberg's vast experience will continue to benefit Killington and Pico as he discusses ongoing plans for the Resort with Solimano and his team. He will not only bring his first-hand resort knowledge and working relationships with various managers in Vermont to the table, but also a wider perspective on international trends working closely with Demschar. Nyberg's promotion is likely to bode well for Killington and its proposed village, as well as other projects.