I snowboarded at Soldier Mountain near Fairfield on Thursday, Jan. 31 with Soldier president Will Varin. It was great to get back on the mountain, which is entering a new era. We talked about the difference between a for-profit ski area and a non-profit, which Soldier now is, and the differences between the ski area being controlled by locals rather than a company located far away. Varin had nothing bad to say about former owner Bruce Willis, who donated the ski area last summer. Willis' company operated Soldier at a loss for several years, but kept it open regardless, and took a substantial financial hit when Willis decided to donate the ski area rather than sell it. His company made sure it went to the right people who are in it for the right reasons. He made a good decision. The hill was staffed with friendly folks, and it operated smoothly from the lifts to the kitchen. Varin said the number of ski visitors is above expectations despite a mediocre snow year, so word is getting out. I will have a full story on the "new" Soldier Mountain on Feb. 14, but if you haven't been there, it's worth checking out.
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