Bridgette Shipley-Deck, a native Californian, learned to ski at Squaw Valley at age five. She joined the Freestyle team at Kirkwood at 14 and later the Freestyle team at Squaw Valley to compete in her love for moguls. Later her interest shifted to Big Mountain, Slopestyle, and Skier Cross.
Her first job was a ski instructor at Kirkwood when she was almost 16, and later a Freestyle Coach and Raft Guide at Mount Hood Summer Ski Camps. At the tender age of 19, Bridgette was promoted to General Manager and Buyer of Breeze Ski and Sports at Alpine Meadows Ski Area. She graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with bachelor’s degrees in Resort Administration and Strategic Management.
Bridgette has over two decades of extensive experience in the ski industry. At Intrawest for 14 years, she held senior leadership positions in the Real Estate Groups and Operations divisions; was a District Manager for California, Nevada, and Oregon; and ran Retail, Rental, and Food and Beverage in addition to holding board seats on several village boards. For 6 years she was the Director of Retail, Rental, Uniforms, and Purchasing for Squaw Valley USA, and currently works with Vail Resorts in the Specialty Sports Venture division.
Her life has revolved around her love for the mountains and the sports they facilitate. She is very grateful for the beauty of her daily surroundings and the ability to help people participate in the sport she loves. It is her desire to be proactive in the future growth and the future sustainability of our ski areas. Bridgette hopes that collaborating with the like-minded people at MRA will bridge the gap between today’s resorts and the creativity and fresh strategies that are rare in the ski industry.
Howard Leonhardt is an inventor and serial entrepreneur. He has 20 U.S. patents for products for treating cardiovascular and heart disease. His inventions have treated over 140,000 patients in 60 countries. In early 1999 Leonhardt founded Bioheart, Inc., a leader in applying adult muscle stem cells to treat heart failure. Bioheart has raised over $105 million in paid in capital and additionally $40 million in loans and grants.
Howard holds a diploma in International Trade from Anoka Technical College. He attended the University of Minnesota and Anoka Ramsey Community College. He holds an honorary doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Northern California and is an honorary alumnus of the University of Florida and Florida International University, where he has served on various boards. He was South Florida Entrepreneur of the Year 2003 and State of Florida Entrepreneur of the Year 2004.
Leonhardt has founded 20 companies to date, most them majority funded by his venture firm Leonhardt Ventures and their associated angel networks. These include the California Stock Xchange, Kindheart Lionheart Adventures, MyoStim Pacers, Leonhardt Vineyards, Leonhardt’s Launchpads, Kindheart Lionheart Media Co., Stem Cell Bra, and Wine Country Baseball. Leonhardt helps lead Startup California, a region of the Startup America Partnership as a spokesperson on the JOBS ACT and crowdfunding. He founded the public policy institute the Entrepreneurship Party in 2006 and is an independent candidate for the governorship of California 2014.
Hunter Sykes started skiing at the young age of 2 ½ while living near the base of Eldora ski area in Colorado. His passion for skiing and snowboarding has led him to 3 continents, 5 countries, more than 50 ski areas and numerous backcountry stashes. By the time he graduated from high school, he had been lucky enough to have lived – and skied – in Steamboat Springs, Aspen, Durango, and Grand Junction, where he had his first ski job working on the ski patrol at Powderhorn ski area. After spending 2 years in the Coast Ranges of Southeast Alaska, he returned to Colorado and studied Ski Area Operations at Colorado Mountain College before embarking on a 20+ season career in the ski industry in Colorado and California, working jobs as varied as race crew, ski and snowboard instructor, ski repair technician, summer trail crew, and in retail and rental management. He also worked for a time as the ski area research director for Colorado Wild and the Ski Area Citizen’s Coalition, a grassroots effort to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability within the ski industry.
Hunter has a BA in History from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an MA in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. He has extensive experience working with private industry and nonprofit organizations on a variety of environmental issues in the Americas, Europe, and the Pacific.
He is also a founding partner of Coldstream Sustainability Group, a sustainability consultancy, and of Coldstream Creative, a film production company that produces environmentally and socially themed documentary films, including Resorting to Madness: Taking Back Our Mountain Communities, which addresses the impacts of the modern ski resort industry on mountain communities and environments.
J. Mark Enriquez resides in Boston and has been a casual skier since the 1960s. Mark worked for a number of large investment and brokerage firms prior starting his own in 2000. After a good run he sold the firm to a large global bank in 2011.
Intolerant of bureaucratic corporate structures, Mark quit his new job after a week. Too young to retire, Mark is working on several startups and serves on a number of boards. He was recently appointed by the governor to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Finance Advisory Board. Mark holds a BA from Boston University and an MBA from Babson College.
In addition to skiing, Mark enjoys playing competitive hockey, reading history, and listening to the Grateful Dead, and is a rabid college hockey fan. He has 2 daughters and a wife of 25 years.
Jeff Harbaugh received his MBA in finance and international business from the Wharton School and spent some years in international banking, corporate development, cash management, and turnaround management. In 1991, he walked into Nitro Snowboard’s U.S. distributor in a three-piece suit. The suit lasted about a day and a half. The involvement with action sports has lasted nearly 22 years—so far.
As Nitro’s president, Jeff helped to rationalize the company, raise capital, and ultimately sell it. In the process, he met then Transworld President Brian Sellstrom, who taught him the value of a good martini and suggested he write an article for Transworld Snowboarding Business. That article evolved into the widely read and respected Market Watch column.
As a consultant working with industry companies, an analyst, and observer of industry trends, Jeff has tried to keep retailers and brands ahead of the curve so that they can make inevitable industry evolution work for them. At the peak of the snowboarding industry in the mid-1990s, he explained what the trends in the industry would be as it matured and consolidated. In 2002, he warned the skateboard industry that decks from China were happening and would fundamentally change the industry. As early as 2004, he was recommending that retailers focus on inventory turn and gross margin dollars rather than sales growth and gross margin percentage. Current economic issues have made that even more appropriate. When the Great Recession started, he explained why it wouldn’t be short.
In addition to Transworld Business, Jeff’s analysis has appeared in Ski Area Management, as “The Harbaugh Report” on the SAM website, in the National Association of Ski Areas Journal, Boardsport Source, Snowboard Canada Business, and in Snowsports Industry of America (SIA) publications.
Jeff has been a speaker or panelist for the Board Retailer’s Association, at SIA’s annual Trade Show, TransWorld Snowboard Conferences, the National Ski Areas Association annual convention, TransWorld Skateboarding Conference, and the International Association of Skateboard Companies.
Jeff Pensiero is a successful visionary within the ski industry, and a passionate snowboarder that is able to connect dream, tenacity, and foresight into a successful package. As the founder and owner of Baldface Lodge in Nelson, BC, Jeff has created one of the most successful snowcat operations in North America. His extensive entrepreneurial skills and intimate understanding of the ski industry are welcome assets at the MRA roundtable.
Joe Turner started skiing at 2.5 years old and knew by the ripe age of 12 what his future entailed: owning his own ski area. To pursue his dream he began life as a ski racer in grade school and started up the first Ski & Snowboard Club at his high school, which he was president of until he left and migrated to Tahoe to snowboard after graduation. His passion for the outdoors took him to the waves to learn surfing, which diverted his love of snowboarding to telemarking. With a whisper in the winds calling him back to the mountains, Joe returned to his childhood dream place of Colorado, circa 1995. His adoration for the free heel boogie growing, he dedicated his life to telemarking. He developed his big mountain skills and took his passion to Jackson Hole where he organized and held the Telemark Extreme Skiing competition. The same year he ventured to Alaska to ski Haines with the first telemark crew to ever film in Alaska.
Joe has played many roles within the ski industry: athlete, professional ski patrol, snowmaker, event organizer, judge, film producer, and ambassador for his sponsors, just to name a few. Now a father of two, his interests revolve around family, being a professional telemark skier in the winter, and training horses in the summer, a reality that he feels great gratitude for. “Passion of life has led me down many paths that I have been blessed to be able to experience. Overall skiing has directed my entire life as I look back. This is something that that I hope future generations can also enjoy, and why I am involved with MRA… to make our sport sustainable.”
John Kircher is second-generation ski area management, having grown up in the business. When he was born his dad drove his mom halfway to the hospital in a slope groomer. From then on it was all downhill, working in all of the various sections of the ski and resort business including hotels and restaurants as well as mountain operations and maintenance. Not counting those early years up to age 22, he’s been in the ski industry for almost 30 years on a daily basis. He is a principal in Boyne Resorts, which operates 9 ski resorts from coast to coast and one in Canada. In addition to daily duties as general manager of Crystal Mountain, he also oversees daily operations at the Summit at Snoqualmie, WA; Brighton, UT; and Cypress Mountain, BC. He averages at least 110 days on skis!
Dr. Jonathan Tay learned to ski on a Michigan ski hill at the age of 10. When the ski area was built, garbage was brought to the top of the hill to increase the vertical drop to 220′. That was enough, however, for him to find his passion for being outside and sliding on snow (ice, really). This passion that he was fortunate enough to discover at such an early age has been the guiding light the rest of his life. All decisions he made from that point on have been based on the pursuit of skiing. His love for the mountain environment has taken him all over the world living and skiing, and finally settling down in proximity to Lake Tahoe and the Eastern Sierra since 1998, “I am a physician in Reno, NV. I am married to Monique, have a son (Alex) and a daughter (Megan) at home. Although I am not in the ski or environmental industry, I have been involved in business ventures in the medical field that is guided by one principle: do the right thing for the patient and community, and success will come.
I believe the ski industry should do the right thing for the rider, community, and environment, and success will come. I have been following the grassroots movement that is now Mountain Riders Alliance since the Shames Mountain Cooperative movement. I have since then shared the dreams and vision of the MRA and its founding members. I see the mountain culture and riding experience being diluted and degraded by corporate greed and a ski industry motivated by short term financial profit at the expense of community and environment. MRA has an opportunity to bring skiing and riding back to the ski industry. MRA has an opportunity to share the passion of skiing and riding with the world, at the same time setting an example of community and environmental stewardship. Let’s leave this world a better place than we found it, and have fun seeking big lines while we are at it!”
Matt Hancock used to spend his winters in climate-controlled environments. A Converse High School All-American, a 3-time NCAA All-American, the 1990 NCAA Division III National Basketball Player of the Year, and two years playing professionally including a training camp with the Boston Celtics, Matt didn’t sport his first pair of skis until he was 18 and learned how to stop by running into the Mt Cranmore (NH) Base Lodge.
A college spring ski trip to Mammoth a few years later laid the groundwork for a career in the ski business. An avid outdoor enthusiast today, Matt is the owner of the Mt. Abram Ski Area – Maine’s soulful skier enclave.
Formerly, Matt was the President and CEO of Hancock Land Company, a sixth-generation family business competing in acquisition and to-the-mill-gate management of mid-market timber properties. Matt initiated and oversaw Hancock’s entry into the Forest Stewardship Council – an independent NGO promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Matt is a recent recipient of the prestigious Down East Environmental Award (the only recipient ever from a private business), the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence, and the Maine Biz Next Award “people shaping the future of Maine’s Economy”, and was inducted into the 2012 Maine Sports Hall of Fame.
Matt serves as Treasurer to the Keep My Spirit Fund and the SO and Betty Hancock Scholarship Foundation, is the Chair of the Lake Region Youth Basketball League and is the former Chair of the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches’ Miss Maine Basketball Committee. Matt also coaches a 3rd and 4th grade and an 8th Grade AAU girl’s basketball team.
In addition to Mt. Abram, Matt manages his own real estate and investment portfolio. He is a graduate of Lake Region High School ‘85, Phillips Exeter Academy ’86, Colby College ’90, and Harvard Business School ‘04, and lives with his wife Tracy and three daughters Sarah, Sierra, and Shauna in Casco, Maine.
Tom Winter is a writer, photographer, pundit, consultant, and columnist and has been a fixture in skiing for nearly his entire life. A former racer who competed in Europe and North America, and a ski mountaineer with first descents around the world, Winter is best known for his work as an editor, writer, and photographer. The founding editor of the groundbreaking skiing title, Freeze, Winter currently contributes to and is published by every major skiing title. His work has also been featured in wide variety of other media outlets around the world, including the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, Outside, Frequency, and others.
Currently Tom resides in Boulder, Colorado, where he is a founding partner of the Carve Collective, a wintersports lifestyle design agency, and the principal of Tom Winter Media, a wintersports marketing and public relations consultancy. You can follow him on Twitter @tomwintermedia.