Winter Carnival 2015: Diamonds lead the parade
Ski industry lifers to serve as grand marshals
Chris Diamond may be retiring from his post as Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. president and chief operating officer, but that doesn’t mean he and his wife, Eileen, are going anywhere.
Chris Diamond’s corner office overlooking Gondola Square and the runs spilling toward Steamboat Ski Area’s base will be vacated after June 30, but he and Eileen are sticking around with a new wide open schedule that is sure to equal plenty more turns on the slopes he has helped look after for the past 16 years.
“If anything, we’ll just be here and skiing even more,” Chris said. “No excuses now.”
“We won’t be watching the Weather Channel as often for the trends,” Eileen chimed in.
Chris is entering the home stretch of his ski industry career, a victory march of sorts that will include serving as the 102nd Winter Carnival’s grand marshal alongside his wife of 36 years.
Chris and Eileen will be honored as part of the Feb. 4 opening ceremonies at Howelsen Hill’s Olympian Hall, a prelude to what Chris calls the premier social event in town.
“I’d say it’s the most fun thing that happens on the winter calendar,” Chris said, noting that the couple hasn’t missed a single carnival during their time in town.
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Executive Director Jim Boyne praised the Diamonds’ deep involvement in community activities and their strong ties to the club.
Chris admits that he believes no one outside the Ski Corp. senior team and his family had any idea of his upcoming retirement prior to his announcement Jan. 16, but still it was Boyne on the other line earlier in the month asking the Diamonds to serve as grand marshals.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” Chris said. “It’s always great to see the competitors and coaches because we see them here all the time.”
The Diamonds represent the true sense of a family built around the rise of the ski industry. Both their children, Keenen and Elizabeth, now in their 30s, grew up in it with Chris starting his career at Vermont’s Killington Ski Resort and Mount Snow.
When Chris accepted an offer to be Steamboat’s managing director in 1999, he and Eileen said things were quite different. The Diamonds didn’t feel accepted at first, they said, and breaking the ice with resort personnel and locals proved tough at first.
“It was a tough time,” Chris said. “It really took a while to get to be known.”
Eventually, Steamboat became home, and Eileen laments that Keenen and Elizabeth didn’t get to spend their entire childhoods as native Steamboaters.
“Our kids love to come back to Steamboat to visit,” Eileen said. “I’m not sure they would have felt that way about Southern Vermont. It’s just a great, real town.”
And it’s a town they aren’t in a hurry to leave, at least for now. The honor of serving as Winter Carnival grand marshals is sure to be just one of many departing gifts that the Diamonds will receive over the next five months or so.
“We are flattered and honored,” Chris said. “You never think about stuff like (being named grand marshals). It just happened, and it’s great.”
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It was a love story that brought Jason Erwin to Steamboat Springs from Nashville, Tennessee.