Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Killington featured, Betsy McGeever, Bernie Weichsel recognized
By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington and Okemo Mountain Resorts received a wealth of publicity at two media receptions and at the award luncheon, in addition to the attention their respective booths received from thousands of skiers and snowboarders at the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo this past week week.
Killington was in the spotlight with several presentations on hosting this week’s Audi FIS World Cup Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom races.
Powdr Corp executive Herwig Demschar, who was instrumental in bringing the events to Killington, spoke at the two VSAA media receptions in Boston as well as at the luncheon. Demschar showed off the specially designed Simon Pearce World Cup trophy and also explained the rationale in bringing the World Cup back to Vermont after 38 years and to New England after 25 years. Prior to 1991 many World Cup events took place throughout the East so this is a significant start of what the industry hopes will be repeat Eastern stops on the annual World Cup tours.
Killington President and GM Mike Solimano also spoke about the World Cup at the luncheon which was attended by some 150 guests, including top ski and snowboard industry executives, U.S. ski Olympians, members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, and select media.
Solimano wowed the crowd with slides showing the Superstar venue and set up for the events. But what really stole the show were the two video clips on snowmaking, starring Mountain Opperations Director Jeff Temple. The “Snowcalypse Now” video ressonated with the roomful of industry personnel, who appreciated Temple’s observations on snowmaking and particularly liked when Temple quipped: “that sound, that snowmaking sound, the whole mountain — it sounded like winter.” (killington.com/site/culture/videos)
Okemo’s Betsy McGeever honored
Bernie Weichsel, president of BEWI Productions of Waltham, Mass., established the BEWI Award in 1985 to “recognize a ski industry leader who has made an important contribution to the betterment of the industry.”
In presenting the award to two top sales executives Betsy McKeever (Okemo) and Andrew Noyes (Loon), Weichsel noted that “each exemplifies the invaluable support provided by sales and marketing professionals from resorts throughout the Northeast to the annual Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo as well as to the entire snowsports community.”
Betsy McGeever has been Okemo’s Group Sales Manager since 2007 and previously worked at Killington starting in 1979. Originally from Bethlehem Pennsylvania, she took her first trip to the slopes when she was 24. It was on a five-day ski week at Killington with her husband Danny and college friends that she made her first turns on Graduated Length Method (GLM) skis.
They moved to Vermont in 1977 and in 1979 she began work at Killington in the resort’s marketing and sales department. Her job evolved into a key role in group sales and she has been a familiar face within the industry and at ski shows since the early 1980s with some of her clients going back 30 years, testimony to her sales savvy and professionalism.
Living near the resort, she and her husband raised two boys who also became avid skiers and golfers as the McKeever family planted deep roots in the ski community.
In his remarks, Brian Halligan, who first worked for McKeever starting in 1987 at Killington and later became her boss at Okemo, spoke emotionally and glowingly of his mentor and friend who was “truly family to me.” He also regaled the audience with a story of how McKeever asked him to get a Port-a-Potty for the ladies working in Okemo’s Group Sales trailer (no restroom). Halligan had to approach Okemo’s GM with the request only to be told, “no way” and “not in the budget.”
Noting it wouldn’t be good for the resort to have the girls use the woods, Halligan said they got the port-a-potty and named it Betsy, drawing much appreciative laughter by resort personnel — many of whom are only too aware of not wanting to ever run afoul of environmental regulations!
Okemo Executive VP Diane Mueller and CEO Tim Mueller also thanked McKeever for being a valued member of the Okemo family, noting she personifies the attentive service they strive to provide. Tim stated that the honor was especially deserving and appropriate, noting that while resort owners often get the awards, it is the loyal behind-the-scenes workers like McKeever who truly deserve the accolades for their contribution to the success of a ski business.
In thanking everyone, McKeever said of her career, “I wouldn’t do it any differently. The kids loved being here — the mountain was their playground.” She added that she especially enjoyed the long-term relationships she built and maintained with clients, co-workers, and others in the ski industry.
With her sights set on retirement (after this year), McKeever plans to divide her time between Florida, Vermont, and California, where her 4-year-old twin grandchildren live.
“I’ll miss the people I work with — my `work’ family. We share similar interests and like to do the same things,” she said, adding she will come back to see her friends and to ski.
Weichsel elected to Hall of Fame
The announcement of people elected to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Class of 2016 was also made at the luncheon. They include: Michael Berry, Dan and John Egan, Jeff Hastings, Chuck Lewis, Shaun Palmer, Ellen Post Foster, Marion Post Caldwell, Gretchen Rous Besser and ski marketing and trade-show impresario Bernie Weichsel, who was lauded as “a global ambassador for skiing.” The inductions will take place on April 8, 2017 as part of Skiing History Week at Stowe Mountain Resort.
Weichsel began skiing at age 4 and was introduced to the Trailside Ski Camp in Killington during High School. He later washed dishes there and made a connection to ski shows through then-owner Mike Cohen.Weichsel formed BEWI Productions in 1979 and has produced many a ski show since. He is a familiar face in Killington as a skier and former owner of units at the Inn at Six Mountains.
He will also be the honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dec. 5 annual Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Celebration Dinner at Fenway Park. Weichsel has been an outstanding supporter of YES for over 40 years and his generosity has provided thousands of Boston youth with the opportunity to experience the outdoors and benefit from enrichment programs at YES.
Photo by Karen D. Lorentz
Bernie Weischel, Tim Mueller, Diane Mueller, and Brian Halligan paid homage to Betsy McKeever who was honored with an award at the annual award luncheon in Boston.