Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New mountain manager knows his way around the hill

Stearns brings experience to job

Express Staff Writer

Peter Stearns, promoted last week to Sun Valley resortís mountain manager position, said heís excited to begin working with General Manager Tim Silva, who took over for Wally Huffman in May.

An excited Peter Stearns said he's ready for new challenges at his longtime work place, Sun Valley resort.

"Everyone seems excited about what's going on," said Stearns, who was named as the new mountain manager last week.

Stearns is replacing Mike Federko, who spent over 30 years working at the resort.

The change does not mean a decrease in experience. Stearns marked his 29th anniversary at Sun Valley Co. last Sunday.

Stearns first began working at the resort's hotels in 1980, moving on to hold a succession of positions that included work on the trail crew, guest services and ski patrol, as well as director of snowmaking and head of the race department. His last position was assistant mountain manager.

During that time, Stearns developed relationships with the other longtime employees, including new General Manager Tim Silva. Silva, who worked for Sun Valley Co. from 1976 to 1992, returned this spring after spending the past 17 years at the Northstar at Tahoe Resort, where he last worked as general manager.

"A lot of us have worked here for a long time and I want to acknowledge the contributions Mike Federko made—they should not go unnoticed," Stearns said in an interview. "I'm humbled by my selection to this position and I'm excited to be working with Tim Silva again."

Stearns said he has yet to go over the responsibilities his new position will entail, but that in the past the mountain manager has been in charge of all operations on the mountain other than the ski school and the food and beverage service. Mountain departments that the manager has traditionally overseen include the ski patrol, snowmaking, lift operations, grooming and the race department.

"I have some ideas and hopefully will work with Tim on these, but ultimately he's going to spell out our goals," Stearns said. "Tim will bring some new ideas here and my job will be to implement them."


In an interview last month, Silva said he has yet to form any visions of transition at Sun Valley.

"It's too early, really, to talk about that," Silva said. "I am just getting my feet on the ground."

Silva and Stearns already have plenty on their plates, with construction on a new gondola already underway. The eight-passenger gondola cars, manufactured by Austria-based Doppelmayr, are planned to take passengers from the southern side of the open ground behind the River Run Lodge near Ketchum to the Roundhouse restaurant, which is also scheduled for renovation.

In addition to carrying skiers, the gondola will provide transportation for restaurant guests during the day and night in both winter and summer. It will carry passengers nearly 2,000 vertical feet up Bald Mountain in less than eight minutes, according to Sun Valley Co.

An even larger project, looming somewhere in the future, is development of the resort's 160-acre property at the base of River Run. The project will be overseen by former General Manager Wally Huffman, who was promoted to director of resorts and resort development.

Silva will almost certainly help develop a new hotel and residential units at that site. The ideas were included in a master plan presented by Sun Valley Co. to the public this winter.

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