Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marketing member is homegrown

Zach Crist discusses role on board, vision for area

Express file photo Zach Crist was selected last week as the at-large member of the new Sun Valley Resort Area Marketing Inc. board.

Zach Crist may not have any formal training in resort-area marketing, but—in his opinion—decades of competitive skiing have done far more than hone his downhill skills.

"Looking back, I think I've had a reasonable amount of success building my own brand as a professional skier, designing high-quality gear and laying out communication strategies that speak effectively to the outdoor ski community," he said in an e-mail interview while in Chile skiing.

Sun Valley Resort Area Marketing Inc. recently chose Crist as its at-large member to represent the community. The marketing board has been created to take over marketing of the resort area from the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau, in an effort to increase worldwide awareness of Sun Valley.

Crist's achievements include winning gold in ski-cross at the 2001 X-Games, picking up two other X-Games medals and racing with the U.S. Ski Team on the World Cup for seven years. He's a super G specialist and is currently a marketing consultant for Eddie Bauer First Ascent and K2 skis.

But he doesn't mention these accolades when proving himself worthy for the marketing board.

"Most important, I've lived and learned locally for over 30 years, and I have a solid understanding of what Sun Valley's brand story truly is," he said.

Crist, 37, was born in Palo Alto, Calif., and moved to Ketchum with his family at age 6 and still calls the area home, living in the Board Ranch neighborhood west of Ketchum and working for Stanley-based Sawtooth Mountain Guides.

Having grown up here, Crist isn't set merely on boosting visitor numbers.

"I'd like to see the age demographics for visitors and residents move younger," he said. "This won't happen overnight, but it can be done."

Over the years, Crist has been vocal about his concern that the people who built this resort area are being forced out because of the escalated cost of living.

"The people who have the most history and the most feel for the soul of the community are getting wedged out," he said in a 2004 interview with the Express. "In the past, people were here because they made a lifestyle choice ... Now, it's a totally bipolar community and has left little room for the group of people that came here for the lifestyle of the outdoors and appreciating their surroundings."

The problem hasn't lessened over the past six years.

"The Sun Valley area could be a more sustainable community with a balanced demographic, more job opportunities and better year-round commerce," Crist said. "There are a lot of factors that play into this, but ultimately marketing is one of the most important.

"Sun Valley's marketing effort needs help from an organized team of qualified people. To me, that's what this board represents."

Trevon Milliard:

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