20 under 40: Brian Berge, Axis West Property Management & Realty
In a way it was Steamboat Springs itself that sent Brian Berge away.
Berge grew up the way Steamboat kids do, with an eye always on the next adventure.
“Growing up here, you did everything,” he says. “I played soccer, T-ball and hockey. I did the Wednesday night ski jumping series. I did Winter Sports Club for ski racing.”
He liked hitting jumps, so coaches tried to lure him into moguls skiing, but he found the rigidity too confining. Then you had to ski too straight for ski jumping.
It all came together in snowboarding with the halfpipe, and after honing his skills at Steamboat Ski Area and Howelsen Hill with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and graduating high school in Steamboat in 2001, Berge packed his bags and followed his competition dreams and a few buddies to Utah.
If it was Steamboat that laid the tracks for his departure from town, it was the city that brought him back a decade later.
Injuries and the intense progression of the sport eventually drained his interest and he retired from competition by 2004. He gained a degree in information services from University of Utah, then spent time living in Seattle and Phoenix.
His mother, Evlyn Berge, offered him a place in her home-grown HOA and long-term rental management company, Axis West Property Management & Realty, and that was an offer Berge couldn’t refuse.
“Every time I’d visit, I’d get to the end of my trip and ask myself, ‘Why am I leaving? Why don’t I live here?’” Berge says. “Finally, I had that chance. I’m sure she’d been planning that her whole life, but I’d never thought about it.”
That was four years ago, and in that time, Berge, now 34, has dove into life in his hometown.
He plays hockey and softball in the men’s rec leagues in town. He coaches snowboarding on Howelsen Hill. He participates in the Steamboat Springs Young Professionals Network and completed the Leadership Steamboat program.
In some ways, Berge says, the town he came back to isn’t exactly the one he left. He remembers when workers installed the first stoplight in downtown. He grew up hanging out with friends at businesses that no longer exist and knows how slow things used to get during mud season.
At the same time, he says it hasn’t changed all that much at all.
“It’s grown,” he says. “There are new buildings and the footprint of town has expanded. Still, while it’s busier, it still feels like the same place. It still has the small-town feel, and it’s stayed pretty true to what it was. The spirit’s the same.”
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