Q: As the General Manager of Wilmot Mountain, what does your job entail?
A: We bought Wilmot in January of 2015, and since then I oversee all three Midwest resorts, including Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin, Mt. Brighton in Brighton, Michigan and Afton Alps in Hastings, Minnesota. They each have their own general managers that report to me, but I work on the overall strategic strategy for our all three. We work on providing a great guest experience, with learning, and aligning ourselves to help people get out west if they want; it’s about being integrated, so the local mountains have the same products as our destination resorts in Colorado and California. Day-to-day, I make sure all the departments have what they need so we can run smoothly.
Q: When does this season officially start?
A: When it gets cold; we always aim for November before Thanksgiving. It happens sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t, but the good thing is we don’t need snow, we just need it to be cold because we can make snow.
Q: What does the snow-making process entail?
A: If it’s below freezing, we have snow-making guns, which is basically a big fan and there’s nozzles that push out super high pressure water and super high pressure air and they mix and freeze into snowflakes and fall. There’s a stereotype that manmade snow is really icy, but that comes from when they first learned to do it in the 60s. It’s not icy at all.
Q: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
A: Obviously last year there wasn’t much winter in Chicago, so I’m looking forward to getting a lot of people to come out that didn’t get to last year, and welcoming the people that did back. This time of year the excitement is always seeing the first snowflakes and being able to turn on our system.
Q: What can guests expect to see when they come?
A: A lot of people are still surprised because everything at Wilmot Mountain is new; we did a huge renovation at the beginning of last December and then had the winter that wasn’t. The facilities are incredible: there’s new ramps, new lifts, a new kids and beginner area, a new terrain park and a high-speed rope tow. Also, Walt’s Tavern was completely redesigned with a new lounge and bar. If you were there three or four years ago, Wilmot was feeling its 75 years of age, and it needed some improvements, so we did that.
Q: How can Chicagoans prepare for the season?
A: If you know how to ski great, there are still passes on sale right now, and prices continue to increase through November. If you don’t want to buy a season pass, we have day passes, which are also available right now. We also have a great beginners ski program if you and your friends or family you want to get into the sport, there’s so many great opportunities there.
Get more information on passes and Wilmot Mountain features at http://www.wilmotmountain.com.