Aspen Highlands pioneer honored by industry |

Aspen Highlands pioneer honored by industry

Naomi Havlen
Special to the Daily Don Robinson was honored by Colorado Ski Country USA when he was given the organization's first annual Lifetime Achievement Award

Don Robinson, one of the original creators of Aspen Highlands, was remembered fondly in late December when he died after a battle with lymphoma.

And earlier this month, Robinson was honored by Colorado Ski Country USA when he was given the organization’s first annual Lifetime Achievement Award because of his work in the state’s ski industry during the last 45 years.

Robinson, who was 68 when he died last year, helped original Highlands owner Whip Jones create the popular ski area in the Maroon Creek Valley. It’s estimated that Robinson cut as many as 70 of the runs on the mountain.

The award was presented in Robinson’s memory, April 13, in Grand Junction at the Annual Snowmaking and Slope Maintenance Conference and Trade Show.

Robinson’s wife, Janet, went to accept the award on her husband’s behalf, along with her children and grandchildren.

“I think he would have been proud of this award,” Janet Robinson said. “I understand that this award had been discussed a couple of years ago, but they couldn’t seem to come to a decision as to who to present it to. I asked if he had still been alive if he would have been considered, and they said yes.”

According to Colorado Ski Country, the lifetime Achievement Award was designed to recognize outstanding, long-term, hands-on ski area employees for lasting and significant contributions, improvements and innovations in their field of expertise, and mentoring others in the industry.

Robinson was senior vice president of mountain operations at Aspen Highlands for 37 years. For the past eight years he was the mountain’s trail director. There is a trail named after him.

“He ran all the bulldozers – the heavy equipment was really his forte,” said Mac Smith, Aspen Highlands ski patrol director. “He could make a bulldozer talk. He had a lifetime of being productive and not hurting himself or the machinery even on the most steep bits – that’s saying something.”

Smith spoke to the Aspen Times about Robinson last December, just after Robinson’s death. He remembered his friend and colleague as a family man, and a father figure at the ski area.

“I don’t know if Don knows about this award, but if he doesn’t, I’ll tell him about it someday,” Janet Robinson said.

In other awards handed out by the organization, Breckenridge’s Dave Mastrobuono was chosen as this year’s slope groomer of the year and Steamboat Springs’ John Asta was chosen as this year’s terrain master of the year.

David Leffler of Breckenridge was recognized as this year’s snowmaker of the year.

We are very happy to honor these individuals who make such a difference behind the scenes,” said Rob Perlman, chief executive of Colorado Ski Country. “Colorado’s slopes are the best anywhere to ski and ride because of their hard work and dedication.”

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