Getting to know … John Garnsey |

Getting to know … John Garnsey

Nathan Rodriguez
Kristin AndersonBeaver Creek COO John Garnsey has worked his way to the top over the last 30 years.

John Garnsey came to Vail in 1975 with plans to enjoy the scenery for a bit before heading back east to start up a career. Instead he stayed, spending a number of years working in mountain operations at Vail. More than 30 years later, he’s risen through the ranks at Vail Resorts, and serves on the executive team of the company.

Garnsey always had an interest in ski racing, competing as an amateur in his youth, though he’s quick to dismiss any illusions: “I wasn’t very good, but always had fun.”

He became involved in organizing racing, and then became a race official before moving on to become a technical delegate for the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Along the way, he worked for the nonprofit Vail Associates Foundation, which evolved into the more inclusive-sounding Vail Valley Foundation. He’s delighted with how the Foundation has advanced over the years, with cultural and educational components added in to the group’s focus.

He played a key role in attracting the World Ski Championships to Vail and Beaver Creek in 1989 and 1999, and after the ’99 championships, was hired on as chief operating officer for Beaver Creek Mountain. Still COO, Garnsey was recently promoted to co-president of the Mountain Division, and couldn’t be happier.

“I came to the Vail Valley and had the opportunity to work my way up,” he said. “It really was a dream come true, and I think it’s important for people who are passionate about what they do to realize that it is possible to make a lifelong career out of what you love.”

We made a run for the ’09’s and the ’13’s, and were unsuccessful. But we were unsuccessful, I think, because the (Vail Valley) Foundation and Vail Resorts went for an aggressive strategy of going for all of the snow sport championships in one big event, so we were looking at the freestyle, snowboard and alpine, and it was a concept that was really exciting, and made sense when you look at the efficiencies and economies that could have been realized by holding such an event. However, it was a concept that was ahead of its time, and at the end of the day was not received that well by members of the FIS. The ’13’s campaign was very political ” enough said.

We’re still working, collectively with the foundation, to make a decision whether or not it still makes sense as a community to go after the ’15 world championships. Personally, I like the idea. I think an event like that does a lot to bring the community together by giving everyone a common goal, and there’s the economic impacts as well. So I would like to see it, but that’s a decision that has to be made by Vail Resorts, by the Vail Valley Foundation, and by the community at large. If it makes sense for us, I think we’ll go after it and right now I think there’s a chance that we may go after it in 2015.

So far we’ve had what I would call a typical start to the season. We had a relatively warm October, but with the weather changing last week, November feels much more winter-like with natural snow and colder temperatures, and we’re making really good snow right now at both Vail and Beaver Creek. If you take a look at the weather patterns from 30 days out, it looks very typical for this time of year. I’m going to be optimistic and predict that we’ll have another great snow season like we did last season.

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