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Interim GM hired at Stevens Pass to support 'operational improvement'

In a message to the skier community, Tom Fortune notes many are "frustrated" by how the resort has handled operations so far this season.

SKYKOMISH, Wash. — Citing frustration from the skier and snowboarder community, an interim general manager is taking on the task of improving operations at Stevens Pass.

In a message to the community posted on Facebook, Tom Fortune wrote he will "work towards getting the mountain open as quickly and safely as possible, and to positively change your experience with us."

The move by Vail Resorts follows criticism from angry pass holders. An online petition titled "Hold Vail Resorts Accountable" points to "mismanagement of the ski area, the failure to treat employees well, or pay them a livable wage, and the failure to deliver the producer we all paid for and bought with hard-earned money during the pandemic." The petition has more than 38,000 signatures.

The author of the petition previously told KING 5 he paid $800 for an annual Epic Pass to ski at Stevens, but 60% of the terrain remained closed. 

In response, a corporate spokesperson sent a statement reading, in part, “We are listening to feedback carefully. Stevens Pass is working hard to address operational challenges, including staffing shortages, to open more of the mountain as quickly – and safely – as possible.”

As of Wednesday, Jan. 12, the ski resort and US 2 over the pass has been completely shut down for about a week due to hazardous conditions - something that is out of the hands of the ski resort.

Stevens Pass is a "complex operation," Fortune wrote, "it always has been. That means change will not happen overnight, but I am committed to securing both short-term wins and outlining a long-term roadmap of improvement."

Fortune said he "grew up at Stevens Pass." He has managed a "number" of resorts across the western United States. He currently serves as general manager of Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe.

Jeremy Rubingh, who has been skiing Stevens Pass for 14 years and authored the online petition, said he and others are "cautiously optimistic" after the interim GM announcement. 

"There's changes happening there," he said. "They're actually responding to us ... and I think the hope is that they actually give this new interim director room to make the necessary changes."