December 2019 - January 2020 Best Cities for Work in B.C.

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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I DECEMBER/JANUARY 2020 BCBUSINESS 41 Introducing then–Whistler Black- comb chief operating officer Pete Sonntag at last February's The View From Here business and investment forum, emcee Maureen (Mo) Douglas was ready with a zinger. "Since Pete's been here in Can- ada, he's learned the versatile use of the term 'sorry,'" Douglas told the Whis- tler crowd. Sorry for the lousy snow conditions in November. Sorry for the delays in opening the alpine on stormy days. Sorry for those lift ticket snafus back in 2017. But U.S. parent Vail Resorts Manage- ment Co. wasn't worried. In Whistler and elsewhere, its Epic strategy, which locks in pre-season ticket sales across its exten- sive network of ski resorts throughout North America, provides a reliable hedge against the whims of Mother Nature. And compared to its rivals, the company's skill at gathering and deploying customer data makes it look like the Amazon or Facebook of the ski world. Until Vail's surprise acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb in 2016, most Cana- dian skiers probably thought an "epic" day on the slopes consisted of knee- deep powder, bluebird skies, short lines and cold beer. Ski Canada editor Iain MacMillan was introduced to Vail's new spin on this much-overused adjective eight years earlier. In 2008, he attended a press junket where CEO Rob Katz officially launched its new Epic Pass. "Most of the writers were making lazy puns about what 'epic' might mean," MacMillan says. "But I asked Katz when they were going to buy Whistler Black- comb." It was treated as a joke at the time, yet MacMillan recalls a sidelong glance from Katz that said, Anything is possible. One thing was for sure: skiers were going to be able to take advantage of some MOUNTAIN MAN Vail Resorts' Pete Sonntag (above) spent an eventful two years as COO of Whistler Blackcomb RIGHT: WHISTLER BLACKCOMB

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