Aspen groomer receives top industry award | AspenTimes.com

Aspen groomer receives top industry award

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen CO Colorado

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Swanson/CSCUSAAlan Burnham, left, was honored by Colorado Ski Country USA as snow groomer of the year. The snowcat driver on Aspen Mountain was congratulated at an award banquet Wednesday night by Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan.

ASPEN – Skiers and riders visiting Aspen Mountain have known for years that it’s got excellent corduroy on the groomed slopes. Now one of the groomers has been recognized as one of the best in the business.

Snowcat operator Alan Burnham was given a Double Diamond Award by Colorado Ski Country USA as the best slope groomer of the 2010-11 season. The award was granted during Colorado Ski Country’s annual conference Wednesday in Aspen.

Burnham started with the Skico in 1986 when he worked for Aspen Mountain Powder Tours. He guided skiing, performed snow safety and control work, and operated the tour cats. In 1988, he joined the grooming department and he’s been honing his skills over the last 23 seasons.

“Having spent many hours working and playing on the mountain, Alan has imparted his wide range of mountain experience to others, and continues to share his knowledge of the mountain with guests and employees,” said a press release from Colorado Ski Country.

The state trade association also gave Double Diamond Awards to the top “terrain master,” snowmaker, instructor, patroller and athlete. The selection process is tough. Colorado Ski Country’s 22 member resorts nominate employees in the various categories. The trade association establishes committees of industry peers to review the applications, interview the candidates and select finalists. “Final judging criteria include professionalism, dedication, contribution, leadership and attitude,” the organization said.

Debbie Caves of Copper Mountain was selected as best terrain master for her work on half-pipes.

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Sabrina Straszewski of Copper Mountain was awarded as best snowmaker.

The instructor of the year is Jonathan Delk of Eldora. The patroller of the year is Joey Riefenberg of Loveland.

The Colorado Ski Country President’s Award went to Cindy Dady, general manager of Echo Mountain ski and snowboard area. She is one of only a few women to hold the highest-ranking post at a Colorado ski resort.

The Athlete of the Year is Katie Hartman, team captain of the University of Colorado ski team. The award is formally known as the Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year, after a young man who was killed in a climbing accident near Aspen in August 2010. Nelson was also a member of the CU Buffs ski team.

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