O’Donnell steps down as Skico head
Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Pat O’Donnell is hanging up his snowboard and skis a few months early.
O’Donnell, 68, said he decided to retire today rather than wait until the end of the ski season, as originally planned. There was “no merit” in waiting to turn the reins over to Chief Operating Officer Mike Kaplan, he said.
Jim Crown, the managing partner of the Skico for the family that owns the privately held firm, flew in from Chicago today to announce the change at a Skico employee meeting.
O’Donnell said his retirement was a closely guarded secret until this afternoon. He said Kaplan has his full endorsement, though it was up to the Crowns to pick a successor. O’Donnell said he is leaving the firm after its best season ever financially and with a “great team” in place, from Kaplan on down.
“There’s no question the time is right,” O’Donnell said.
Kaplan, 42, has been with the Skico since November 1993. He worked up through the ski school and was named the vice president of mountain operations before the 1996-97 season. He was promoted to chief operating officer July 2005 ” a clear sign he was being groomed as O’Donnell’s successor.
Kaplan said he is facing “self-applied pressure” as the head of the firm, but he welcomes the challenges. “This is something I’ve been working toward for 20 years,” he said.
Kaplan said he will announce management changes, which he called “tweaks,” later this week.
O’Donnell was recruited to the Aspen Skiing Co. in June 1994 as the second in command and successor to Bob Maynard. He was appointed president and CEO when Maynard retired in 1996.
“It’s been a pretty good ride,” he said of the last decade.
O’Donnell will move to Grand Junction with his wife Jennifer. They picked Junction for its access to ski areas, mountain biking in the desert and river running.
“I don’t plan on sitting around in a rocking chair,” said O’Donnell.
For more on the change in Skico leadership, see Tuesday’s Aspen Times.
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