Meet Chris Sorensen, the new general manager of Keystone Resort
Summit Daily News
Chris Sorensen, who was named Keystone Resort’s new vice president and general manager in May, started from humble beginnings.
Sorensen began his professional career in a server closet in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, programming phone switches for an insurance company. He also picked up a part-time job at Best Buy, where he would work a shift at night just so he could alleviate his itch to interact and communicate with people.
While working these two jobs, Sorensen came across an advertisement in one of Tulsa’s local newspapers that turned his life path a full 180 degrees.
“The advertisement featured a snowboarder jumping off a cliff that said, ‘Do you want to get paid to play?’” Sorensen said. “And I was immediately like, ‘Uh, yes! Sign me up!’”
From there, Sorensen would attend a job fair at a hotel in Tulsa, where he was exposed to ski resorts from across the country. He would eventually be offered a job to come out to Keystone Resort in order to be a ski lift operator.
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Sorensen deiced to pack up and move on Thanksgiving Day in 2004 in order to be set up in Summit County in time for his first day Dec. 4.
Sorensen said he initially came to work one season and was willing to change course if things didn’t go as planned. But after two weeks on the job at Keystone, Sorensen said he fell in love with the ski resort lifestyle.
“I can remember calling my parents back in Oklahoma and saying, ‘I’m never coming home, and I am going to find a way of how I can make this a career,’” Sorensen said.
Sorensen had a goal in mind when starting at Keystone in 2004: He one day wanted to be the vice president and general manager of the Resort. Sorensen worked toward this pipe dream by raising his hand to do anything and everything in order to see how the resort was able to run successfully.
After about five years, Sorensen realized that if he wanted to move up higher into the Vail Resorts system, he needed to oversee a part of Keystone’s revenue department in order to prove he could manage operations and revenue systems. Sorensen got this opportunity when he became the tubing and night operations manager for Keystone.
Sorensen loved the new position as it allowed him to be at the top of the mountain, in the sun, looking off Independence Bowl. But Sorensen was still eager to move his way up in the company.
By 2014, he transitioned to Breckenridge Ski Resort as the senior manager of EpicMix Photo, guest service and scanning. Sorensen said his stint at Breckenridge was short-lived as he nailed down his first Vail Resorts general manager position at Mt. Brighton outside of Detroit the next year.
Sorensen made the move with his wife, who he had met at Keystone, along with his two new stepchildren.
After three years in Michigan, Sorensen and his family made another move to Hastings, Minnesota, in order for him to lead Afton Alps Ski Resort. He would remain in this position for only a season before he was promoted once again, this time to vice president of Vail Resorts’ Midwest region, which includes 10 resorts.
Then in June of this year, Sorensen started his new leadership role at Keystone.
“Vail Resorts is thrilled to welcome Chris Sorensen as the new vice president and general manager of Keystone Resort,” Keystone Resort spokesperson Loryn Roberson said at the time. “… Chris has a long history with Vail Resorts. He joined the company in 2004 as a lift operator at Keystone and quickly articulated his dream of one day becoming the GM.”
Sorensen said his latest title takes things “full circle” to the position he dreamed about 17 seasons ago.
“I am so proud of how this resort has grown since I was gone,” Sorensen said. “And to be be back in this role leading this resort where I started my career means the world to me.”
Sorensen said he returned to Summit County with essential, newfound experience on how to interact with different cultures and build teams from the ground up. This season, Sorensen said a large amount of his energy and focus will be spent on family.
“Keystone’s brand is family, and it will continue to be family,” Sorensen said. “We will continue to drive activations around the family skier. The overall vision is to continue to make this the No. 1 family resort in the world, add lift service terrain to increase uphill capacity and improve the employee experience.”
Sorensen noted that Keystone is planning the opening of a big expansion next season that will allow more access for families to explore the resort. The Bergman Bowl expansion will provide 500-plus new lift-served acres with 15 trails in order to give visitors easier access to one of Sorensen’s favorite places on the mountain to explore.
Sorensen said Keystone is also in the process of expanding and developing its base area over the next three to four years.
Although Sorensen spends the majority of his time in meetings, he said he likes to spend at least fives days a week out on the hill seeing the finished product of employees’ hard work and dedication.
Sorensen said he expects a strong ski season with visitors coming to get outside and explore the mountain.
“Our expectations are that there is going to be a demand,” Sorensen said. “People are going to want to be here, they are going to want to get outside, and we are excited to be able to offer them a product to do that. Hopefully, people have fun and laugh with their friends, family or themselves if they are powder hounds.”