Win Smith and Rob Katz will each receive the 2022 National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Lifetime Achievement and Industry Impact Award, respectively, on Saturday, May 14, at the 60th annual NSAA National Convention in Nashville.
Smith and Katz are both well-known and respected leaders who came to the ski industry following stints on Wall Street: Smith left Merrill Lynch in 2001 and purchased his home mountain, Sugarbush Resort, Vt.; and Katz was working at private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, when he joined Vail Resorts’ board in 1996 and later became CEO in 2006.
In addition to Smith and Katz, award recipients from the last two years will also be recognized at the convention, which is back in person for the first time in two years. For folks that still need lodging for the event, NSAA just opened a new block of rooms at the Lowes Vanderbilt Hotel. Find more information and register here.
NSAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals whose commitment and contribution to the organization and the ski industry will benefit the industry for decades to come.HN winsmith Smith’s leadership at Sugarbush heralded a new era for the ski resort, transforming its base areas, infrastructure, and programming.
“I think the key thing is to recognize he came to the industry a little bit late in life, but he quite honestly engaged and exceeded everybody’s expectations—everybody, I think, was truly impressed with what he did with Sugarbush,” NSAA former president and CEO Michael Berry told NSAA. “He revitalized, reinvigorated and reenergized Sugarbush in a way that I think surprised everybody.”
Smith owned Sugarbush for more than 19 years before selling the resort to Alterra Mountain Company in January 2020. He stayed on as president and COO to assist with the transition. Under his ownership, the resort underwent $75 million in capital investments.
A lifelong environmentalist, Smith has been able to prioritize sustainability in the ski business. His time at Merrill Lynch also equipped him with political awareness and experience at lobbying and relationship-building among legislators—skill sets he sees as critical to skiing, a regulated industry that’s not necessarily understood in Washington.
Read NSAA’s full bio of Smith here.
NSAA’s Industry Impact Award recognizes individuals or organizations whose contributions have had a significant and valuable impact to the ski industry; Katz’s impact through hisHN katz work at Vail Resort has been undeniable.
Katz’s strategic vision for Vail Resorts has reshaped the landscape of resort ownership and season pass sales in North America, and even globally. Under his leadership, the company acquired 38 resorts and launched the game-changing Epic Pass, which yoked those ski areas together under a single product.
“So much of the innovation that Rob drove at Vail Resorts was uncomfortable for many in the industry and ultimately resulted in innovation across the industry that has proven beneficial for all,” Pat Campbell, senior advisor to and former president of Vail Resorts Mountain Division, told NSAA. “Rob has been a transformational leader at Vail Resorts, which has in turn created broad impact in the ski industry.”
After 15 years as CEO, Katz stepped down in November 2021 and assumed the role of executive chairperson. In that capacity, he continues to advise the board on long-term strategy and critical priorities and has remained involved in Vail Resorts’ leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion activities.
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