Doug Allen prepares for final season in his career at Steamboat Ski Area
Steamboat Springs — Doug Allen doesn’t need social media to share his resume — it’s there for everyone in the Yampa Valley to see, spread out over 2,965 skiable acres on Mount Werner.
Allen, Steamboat Ski Area’s longtime vice president of mountain operations, announced Wednesday the winter of 2016-17 will be his last with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. He’ll retire after 31 years when the lifts shut down for the season in April 2017.
During his tenure, Allen oversaw the modernization of the ski area’s lifts and was active on the statewide level through his involvement with the Colorado Passenger Tramway Safety Board.
“The installation of the new gondola was already underway when I got there in the summer/fall of 1986,” Allen said. “The towers were already in place, and they were working on final details in the terminal. That was the year that Hazie’s (restaurant) was built at Thunderhead.”
Allen came to Steamboat in 1986 from Copper Mountain and reported to Loris Werner as the new lift manager. There were big plans for the ‘new guy.’
“I’d had a lot of experience (at Copper) in the early years with the detachable high speed quad chairlift,” Allen said. “I was recruited to work toward converting (Steamboat) to high-speed lifts.”
“There are few leaders in the ski industry who have had the impact of Doug Allen,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President and COO Rob Perlman said in a news release. “From his early days in Copper to his lasting legacy in Steamboat, Doug has helped shape the way skiers and snowboarders utilize the mountain and boosted Steamboat to a world-class year round vacation destination.”
Allen originally went to college to study engineering but finished at the University of Denver with degrees in sociology and psychology. He said two years of engineering studies provided a grasp of water flow and “strength of materials” that helped him in his ski area career. But just as valuable has been understanding of human behavior that came from his coursework at DU.
“It’s really about working with people,” Allen said of his job.
By 1989, much of Allen’s time was spent in planning and environmental work required to replace the older fixed-grip chairlifts that served the Priest Creek and Four Points areas at Steamboat. That same year, the ski area changed hands from the Northwest Colorado Ski Corp. to the Japanese company, Kamori Kanko Ltd.
In 1992, the Storm Peak and Sundown high speed quads were installed, dramatically improving access to some of Steamboat’s most desirable ski trails.
“One of the most rewarding rewarding moments in my career was replacing the old triple chairlifts,” Allen said. “That was a great project and really changed the way the mountain skis.”
Later, the ski area also installed the Sunshine high-speed quad in Priest Creek, and the old Thunder chairlift was also upgraded.
The latter “really made the lower mountain more enjoyable to ski,” Allen said.
Throughout his career in Steamboat, the ski area was upgrading snowmaking equipment and water lines to improve the man-made snow it often relies upon to provide early winter skiing. New snowmaking technology in the form of high efficiency guns, which require a 10th of the amount of compressed air, deliver much more snow in less time using less energy.
When Steamboat installed the six-seat Christie Peak Express at the base of the ski area in 2007, Allen saw his chance to redesign the old Headwall ski trail to make it more beginner friendly.
The new lift linked the advanced terrain on the See Me trail with the intermediate Vogue trail and the terrain park at the bottom of the mountain. That awareness led the ski area to introduce night skiing for the first time, and Allen led public information sessions on the project.
Allen and his wife, Susie, raised two adult sons, Carter and Curtis, here, and don’t have plans to leave the Yampa Valley.
“Steamboat is home,” Allen said. “We wouldn’t think about moving. We like to fish and enjoy a lot of activities in the valley.”
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