The luck of the Irish |

The luck of the Irish

May Eynon

Celebrating St. Patricks Day, the Aspen Skiing Co. family gathered at Buttermilks Bumps restaurant for an honorary dinner. Decked out in green from head to toe, Skico employees marking their 20th, 25th and 30th year of service attended a banquet with the Crown family, which reached a 20-year milestone as company owners.Approximately 130 employees were invited, which included more than 90 people who have worked for the Skico for more than 30 years and 11 who have been here for 40 years, said recruiting coordinator Kellie Ulrich.The annual affair is held each year in the spring with various themes. This year the Skico embraced the Irish holiday and converted the base lodge into a leprechaun land with a rainbow balloon arch at the top of the staircase, green streamers hanging from the ceiling and gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins dispersed on the tables. Party hosts also added a twist to guests surnames by inserting an O at the front on their name tags.Its wonderful to recognize our employees who have dedicated so much time and hard work, said Skico CEO Pat ODonnell (nicknamed Patty OODonnell for the evening), who has logged fewer than 10 years at the Skico himself.Seeing as this is for 20-year employees and up, I barely qualify for an hors doeuvre at this party, the CEO said.In counting the time employees have worked for the n continued company, we include years of working at Aspen Highlands, continued Ulrich. Highlands was acquired by the Skico about a decade ago.Ski instructor Ray Toland attended the party with his wife and fellow instructor, Ada. Ive been teaching for 32 years at Highlands, so Im about ready to retire so I can free-ski, said Ray. At 80, Im getting kind of old for this stuff, he chuckled.You know, he was old when I got hired 25 years ago, and hes still old, joked Snowmass ski instructor Harry Mayer.Rays wife, Ada Toland, spoke of the days before shaped skis when she started with the Skico 22 years ago. That was back when 200s were considered short skis, noted Mayer. Things certainly have changed.Ski instructors Billy, Gary and Scooter LaCouter tallied up their years of employment with the Skico nearly a century. Its about 98 years combined, said Billy, now the supervisor of adult ski school at Buttermilk. Next year it will amount to 101.I remember when Billy hired me, said Mary Woulfe of Aspen Mountains ski school. Thats when we had three- to five-day hiring clinics it was pretty competitive. (These days, two-day clinics are the norm.) Woulfe was honored for 20 years of service at the Bumps banquet with a windstopper fleece jacket featuring the Skico logo embroidered on the front along with 20 years of service. The 25-year staff members received Swiss Army watches. The 30-year employees had a choice of gifts either a watch or $500 gift certificate to any Pro Mountain Sports or D&E store.Honored as the longest Skico employee, Jesse Capparella was applauded for 48 years of service.Pat ODonnell presented the Crown family with a framed map of the four mountains as a token of appreciation from the company. Paula and Jim Crown enthusiastically accepted the gift.Our ownership of the company is barely equivalent to the youngest employees in the room, said Jim. We deeply appreciate your dedication.