Straight Talk: Sam Bass

Sam Bass knows skiing. After all, Eldora’s new marketing director worked at Skiing magazine in Boulder for 12 years, five of those as editor-in-chief. That gig had been his dream job—until he found work that includes  spending every day at his local ski hill and getting paid to convey the stoke of the experience. Born and raised in Maine, where his family was deeply involved in the ski industry, Bass attended Colorado College, where he met his future wife. Like most ski bums, he meandered professionally for a while: He taught high school English, chased fantasies of becoming a whitewater kayak slalom racer and took an editorial internship at Outside magazine that put him on the journalism track. He left Skiing to run content at Carbondale-based Backbone Media before accepting the job at Eldora, which recently changed ownership, in August. He talked to us about the soul of skiing.

What brought you to Eldora after so much time on the other side of the rope?

It was a dream job and I couldn’t let it slip by, even though I was really enjoying my work at Backbone Media. I was already a devoted Eldora local, and have been for 15 years. I’ve taught my kids to ski here and I love the place. In my family, we were taught the doctrine of fierce loyalty to one’s home hill. We were Sugarloaf [Maine] patrons, raised to ride for and defend and love that place. Discovering I’d have Eldora as my home hill if we moved to Boulder and knowing it would become the place I’d raise my kids in skiing, was a big appeal for me. Eldora is my home hill now.

What do you love about Eldora?

I love the intimacy of the mountain. It’s the kind of place where you can turn your kids loose with their ski pals and not have to worry about them getting lost in some vast back bowl. You know there’s other locals like you looking out for them, and for everyone.

What Eldora updates have you excited?

Hands down, the most exciting development is the brand-new, six-person Alpenglow Chair on the mountain’s front side. It’s Eldora’s first-ever high-speed, detachable lift, and it replaces two old fixed-grips. The ride time will drop from about 14 minutes to about four-and-a-half minutes so it will completely change the way our guests experience the mountain. All of a sudden, Eldora is the best place to pack a ton of skiing into a short window, like a two-hour pre-work weekday session. Given the proximity and ride time, you can’t beat that bang for your buck in the greater Boulder-Denver area. All told, we’re investing more this year than we have in the previous 25 years combined, so besides the lift, guests will enjoy new food and beverage offerings, nicer restrooms, better WiFi and many more detail refinements. We want Eldora to be a place where you can come up, take a few runs, work from the lodge, and then ski some more. Your boss will never know.

How do you connect to the soul of skiing?

Anytime I’m out on the hill with my kids, watching them laugh and follow one another into the trees and make great turns, I’m connecting with the soul of the sport. I’m also connecting when I’m out skinning at dawn as the sunrise hits Eldora’s eastern flanks, or if I can crack a joke as the race starter and calm the nerves of a young racer as she leaves the gate, or if I’m logging a quiet afternoon solo lap in Salto Glades.

Is there anything resorts and skiers/snowboarders can really do when it comes to climate change?

Absolutely. Resort guests everywhere should demand meaningful sustainability efforts from the resorts they patronize. Resorts need to make serious company-wide commitments to sustainability and efficient energy use in order to protect the playgrounds that serve as the foundations of their business. Skiers and snowboarders can carpool, or take public transportation like the RTD bus route that serves Eldora, and resorts should incentivize these behaviors. And not to say that uphill skiing is the answer to the world’s problems, but I honestly think I’m a more invested global citizen after a good skin up a mountain in cold, fresh air.

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