Andy Wirth: Journey Through Recovery and Rejuvenation

October 13th, 2013 was a day that Andrew “Andy” Wirth would never forget. It was with that skydiving accident that he nearly lost his life, but made a striking recovery thanks to “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam, a supportive family and a three month hospital stay. Flash forward to the present and the Squaw Valley Ski President and CEO has now joined the ranks of the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority Board as a chairman, of which he was appointed by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor’s Authority. He has stated that he is honored to work with such a great staff, and he hopes to attract more flights and gaming to the area. It’s apparent that he has a true drive to make the area as great as it can be, and to bring more people in to see it. Andy previously starred in an episode of Undercover Boss, showing he absolutely knows how to get his hands dirty when it comes to business and when fighting for great additions to the environment.

Andy still takes his place as the Squaw Valley Ski Holdings President and CEO very seriously as he continues working to make sure the area is enjoyable for everyone who comes to visit. Having worked in the industry for over 25 years, he knows what it takes to keep things genuine, but refreshing, when it comes to both skiing and lodging as a whole.

His strength and great will don’t stop there, as he plans to honor the Navy SEALs with his team for the 2015 IRONMAN Lake Tahoe, which takes place on September 20th, 2015. His team is named Special Warfare Warrior, and he hopes to generate support for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which is a group that provides assistance to the Naval Special Warfare Community and its families. His courageous act is sure to inspire others to follow; it’s only a matter of time that we’ll need to watch to see what his next act of motivation will be.

California Ski Resorts Weather the Drought

 

Skiers worried that drought will keep snow away from the California ski resorts this winter can take heart. In a recent interview on KCRW radio’s Press Play, Andy Wirth, CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings explains why the ski resorts will be here for years to come.

He admits this past winter was a tough one for the California ski industry, prompting some resorts to end their seasons early. And in fact, Squaw Valley’s skier visits were down 20 percent. Wirth says we can blame the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, so named by meteorologists describing the persistent region of high pressure which kept a lot of snow out of the mountains.

Not to worry, says Wirth. Squaw Valley has 6000 acres of skiing, and 4000 had plenty of the white stuff. That’s still a lot of skiing. He says Squaw Valley will survive and turn a profit for years to come. He reminds us that the science of snow making has improved a lot, and that the snow cat operators are out there keeping trails ski-able. The industry will invest even more in snow making in years to come.

However, this winter, says Andy Wirth, meteorologists from Colorado State University foresee an absence of that pesky Ridiculously Resilient Ridge. So even though southern California is looking at an El Niño winter, things are looking up for snow in the mountains. Increased volatility in the weather may provide dry seasons, but also some whopper snowfalls, which the industry must position themselves to take advantage of. He adds that other events from the Iron Man Challenge to weddings will keep Squaw valley busy, even before Squaw Valley’s ski season open date of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Twenty-five years in the mountain resort industry have given him considerable experience making judgments about the weather and snow cover. Since 2010, he’s taken Squaw Valley through a $70 million upgrade from facilities to mountain planning. He serves on numerous winter sports related committees, such as the Lake Tahoe Winter Olympics Committee and the Executive Committee of the California Ski Industry Association.

Andy Wirth’s early career as a back country ranger harmonizes with his attitude toward the mountains. Wirth sees himself and his fellow ski resort business operators as resource managers, with a responsibility to leave a bright legacy in the mountains. Squaw Valley is reducing its carbon footprint, trying to move toward cleaner energy sources. This, combined with business savvy and years of experience seem to promise a bright future for skiing the California mountains.