Kaplan: Best ski town in North America is alive and well | AspenTimes.com

Kaplan: Best ski town in North America is alive and well

Mike Kaplan
Aspen Skiing Co.
Aspen Skiing Co.'s Mike Kaplan speaks during a short ceremony in honor of skiing icon Klaus Obermeyer at Buttermilk Ski Area's opening day Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Dear Roaring Fork Valley Community,

As the 2022-23 ski season ends, so does my 17-year tenure as president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Company.

In saying goodbye, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the communities and people of this valley. Because while this was a winter for the ages — a bonanza of consistent snowfall, cold temperatures, and countless powder days — it was the locals who shined the brightest, reminding the world yet again that the best ski town in North America is alive and well.  

Welcoming back international visitors, hosting the World Cup, and seeing so many of you open your homes to seasonal employees were all highlights for me. And that’s just from the past season. Looking back on my full 30 years is a bit daunting, but several things stand out.

First is the passion for this place that is so palpable among locals. I never had to look for it; it always found me — on the gondola, at the Farmers’ Market, at closing parties, and on opening days.

Second is the privilege it has been for my wife and me to raise our four children here. This community nurtured them, challenged them, and launched them into the world as confident and compassionate human beings. A great measure of a place is the young people it produces. The valley is doing very well on that score.

Finally, I feel blessed to have worked for the Crown family, who have not only made my career possible, but also the values-based approach Skico uses to run the business. When we spoke out over the years on the need for climate action, racial justice, and the value of our immigrant population, it was with more than their blessing.

They also brought their input and encouragement. When we did right by our employees during tough times like COVID or the Great Recession, they always pushed us to do even more and lead our industry. The Crowns are committed, humanistic, and smart, and they love and understand this place.

So, I step down with sincere optimism. Why? Because of that enlightened ownership and the talented and dedicated employees who show up every day — they’re still here.

Because we hold onto an idea, the Aspen Idea, that this place and the experiences it offers can make the bigger world a little better — it’s still here.

And because of a community that radiates character and passion, breathing colorful life into everything Aspen stands for in a most authentic, unforgettable way — you’re still here.

We’re all still here — and that means Laura and me, too. Thanks to all of you for your love and support. We look forward to seeing you around the valley this summer and beyond.

See you on the hill,


Mike Kaplan was hired by Skico in 1993 to oversee the Aspen Mountain ski school. He became president and CEO in 2006. He leaves after 30 years.