Ski Area Operations Graduate “Groomed” for Success
In the last twelve years, Zach Collins, a 2007 graduate of the Ski Area Operations program has built an impressive ski industry resume. He’s worked on the grooming crew for Vail Mountain, Copper Mountain, and Beaver Creek, but his experience isn’t limited to Colorado mountains. Through his work, Zach has traveled to Europe, South America and Russia, providing event support for Prinoth, and Snow Park Technologies, the world’s leading consulting team for special projects on snow. He’s worked on high profile ski and snowboard events like the XGames, USASA Nationals, US Free-skiing Open Slopestyle, Red Bull World Record Quarter Pipe and many others.
Today, Zach is the Park Specialist and Demo Coordinator for Prinoth Snowcats – a position that combines his passion for terrain parks, grooming, and travel. He was recruited for the position while in his 5th year as a groomer at Beaver Creek, proof that hard work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed.
“I do a lot of Terrain Park specific demos, events and consulting.” says Zach, a 32-year-old originally from Boston, MA, “Prinoth has demo snowcats all over North America, and I’m in charge of making sure they get where they need to be with the proper support. I travel all over the world bringing new snowcat models to ski resorts!”
Zach’s ski career began as a 4-year-old in a puffy 80’s snowsuit, cruising down the slopes in New England. He learned to ski in Maine, at Sugarloaf Ski Resort and eventually Sunday River, where his family still skis today. Zach’s passion for the mountain grew as his ski collection did, eventually leading him to enroll in the Ski Area Operations program at Colorado Mountain College Leadville in January 2005. The program was an eye-opening experience, giving him a glimpse into the different areas of ski resorts and how they functioned.
“I really enjoyed the Ski Area Planning class.” says Zach, “Getting your ski area together from start to finish was both fun and challenging. Seeing something you created come together was very cool.”
CMC Leadville instructors and the SAO program “groomed” Zach for ski industry success – encouraging experiences and requiring a field internship. His major influences during his time at CMC were former SAO Program Director Curt Bender, and current faculty member Paul “Bear” Rauschke.
“While I was attending CMC, I was working full time for Vail on the grooming crew the first year,” says Zach, “The second year I moved over to Copper Mountain, where I ended up working for 7 years.”
Though his successful career has allowed him to explore many ski resorts at home and abroad, Zach’s appreciation for the mountains that launched his ski industry career is very much intact. He is a regular at Vail Mountain, and likes to explore the nearby backcountry zones as well.
“I really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere that Leadville has,” says Zach, “I live in Vail, and didn’t move too far away when I left CMC. I do miss the simple life of Leadville, and most of all I miss the views from there. It is one of the most beautiful places to go to school.”