By Bob Goligoski
After 40 years as the “voice” of California skiing and snowboarding, this is the first winter in decades without Bob Roberts as president and CEO of the California Ski Industry Association.
As chief strategist and lobbyist for the organization’s 29 California and Nevada winter resorts, the 78-year-old Roberts has played a major role in the development and success of resorts across the Sierra Nevada.
In a long-ranging interview, Roberts reflected on his many years at the helm and talked about what he sees in the future for the winter resorts.
“The drought,” he said, “is the biggest problem facing the resorts. People who own resorts tend to think that the glass is half full, not half empty. They are usually very creative and inventive in solving problems. But if the drought continues, we could lose a few resorts. There will be a shakeout, I suspect.”
In recent years, two Colorado-based corporations – Vail Resorts and KSL – have acquired major California ski resorts, including Heavenly, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar and Kirkwood. He does not see that trend continuing and does not expect other out-of-state corporations to acquire and consolidate resorts in California or Nevada.
California ski resorts are a key component in the state’s tourism boom. Some 7 million skier visits to the resorts are recorded every winter. It’s a $1.5 billion business that generates more than $100 million per year in state and local taxes. Some 16,000 people work full-time and seasonal jobs at the resorts every year.