Friends gather for Wa's 50th.


Byline: Shaun Sutner


Among other distinctions, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area is an incubator for people doing cool and important things in the snow sports business.

That phenomenon was brought home Saturday night at Wachusett's 50th birthday bash for friends of the Princeton ski and snowboard magnet, among whom were members of the Eastern Ski Writers Association, a group I belong to and which also is celebrating its 50th this year.

The spacious Granite Room in the base lodge was packed for the gala with more than 275 guests, including plenty of industry notables, many of them who have close ties to the "Wa," as fans fondly refer to the Central Mass. resort.

Here are some of the Wachusett-bred ski luminaries who were on hand (apologies to anyone I missed):

Dave Ingemie, longtime president of the influential ski manufacturers trade group Snowsports Industries America, started out his career in marketing and public relations at Wachusett in 1969. A Fitchburg native, Ingemie later jumped to the executive directorship of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in New Hampshire.

Molly Mahar, vice president of New Hampshire's Loon Mountain Resort. A native Princetonian whose mother worked at the mountain, Mahar grew up skiing at Wachusett.

Tim McGuire, general manager of Burke Mountain Resort, the rapidly expanding northern Vermont destination, started out as an environmental engineer at Wachusett.

There are also plenty of other important players in the ski business with Wachusett roots. Some of them are:

Kerry O'Brien, head snow groomer at Sun Valley, Idaho, one of the world's premier ski resorts. O'Brien is the brother of one of Wachusett's first general managers, Joe O'Brien, under original owner Ralph Crowley Sr. Of course, three of the late Mr. Crowley's five siblings - Jeff, David and Caroline - now run Wachusett.

Jamie O'Brien, Joe's son and Kerry's nephew, a former ski boot fitter at the Wachusett shop and star junior racer. Jamie runs mountain operations at Stowe Mountain Resort, the classic, steep and backcountry lovers' paradise in northern Vermont.

Wachusett general manager David Crowley's son, David Jr., works in lift operations at Wyoming's gnarly Jackson Hole, the prime U.S. resort for steep and deep riding. David's daughter, Trudi, worked in snowmaking at Vermont's Sugarbush resort.

Matt and Kathryn Crowley are former star racers of Sun Valley. They are children of Ralph Crowley Jr., president of Polar...

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