Steamboat ski patroller earns top Colorado Ski Country USA honors
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It’s an honor that Dana Antonio doesn’t take lightly.
“The easy answer is the skiing — skiing for a living sounds so cool,” Antonio said of the reason she wanted to join Steamboat Ski Patrol when she moved to town seven seasons ago. “But it’s so much more than just that.”
She said she is a ski patroller because she loves helping people, loves the culture that surrounds ski patrol and loves being a part of something bigger — something she calls her ski patrol family. Her dedication to the job has earned her the 2018 Patroller of the Year award from Colorado Ski Country USA.
“I love being able to make someone’s day, even if it’s just a little kid who got in over their head on a blue run,” Antonio said. “But what I really love is being a part of a family. We look out for each other, and we have each other’s back.”
This season, she discovered just how deep that support goes after getting the news that her father Tim had passed away suddenly last summer.
“I started the season kind of just a little unsure about everything,” Antonio said. “When something traumatic like that happens, it changes you, and you start questioning things. My patrol family was just here for me, and I think they recognized that it was a particularly challenging season for me, but I continued to do my job to the best of my ability. They appreciated that and rewarded me for it.”
When Antonio talks about her father it’s difficult for her to hold back the tears.
“He was my inspiration for getting into ski patrol,” she said. “He was my ski buddy when I was a kid. He taught me how to ski, and he taught me to love skiing. He would always say, ‘There is no such thing as a bad day of skiing. A bad day of skiing is a better than a day of anything else.’”
So when Antonio was awarded Colorado Ski County USA Ski Patroller of the Year at the 55th annual Double Diamond Award Ceremony on June 12 at The Kitchen restaurant in Denver, Antonio said her father’s presence was there.
“Oh my goodness, he would have loved it,” Antonio said. “He would have thought it was so cool, and he would have thought it was amazing.”
Antonio grew up in the south Denver Area. After graduating from Arapahoe High School she went to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder where she got a degree in kinesiology. After college, she finished her emergency medical training and applied for a position with Steamboat Ski Patrol.
Last season, she was named Patroller of the Year at the Steamboat Ski Area, and Antonio said her most recent honor from Colorado Ski County USA is a reflection of the men and women she works with on the mountain each winter.
“Dana is the quintessential example of what a Steamboat ski patroller is made of,” said John Kohnke, Steamboat’s director of ski patrol. “She is a highly skilled professional that exhibits compassion mixed with humility that puts our guests at ease in sometimes difficult and challenging situations.
“Steamboat Ski and Resort prides itself on providing what we call ‘service excellence,’ and Dana is our gold standard example of exactly what that program is all about,” Kohnke added.
Antonio said she loves just about everything about being a ski patroller from meeting guests on the mountain to using explosives to clear avalanche routes.
When she isn’t working for the ski area, Antonio is an operations coordinator for Events Medical Solutions. She said the organization is an events-based medical service that staffs events in Steamboat Springs and all over the state.
Antonio is the fourth Steamboat ski patroller to earn this honor. Previous recipients are Wes Richey, Scott Haliday and Cody St. John.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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