2023 New England Summit Educational Sessions.

There will be a total of 25 educational sessions at the event.


Opening Keynote Address – Kelly Pawlak, NSAA

State of the Industry – a Macro and Micro Perspective

From national to regional, sharing data and trends to help you understand where we are at and opportunities for the future.


Fall Education Seminars, brought to you by NSAA and MountainGuard and featuring New England ASDA attorney’s

2023 Fall Educational Seminars Session Descriptions

Session One

Control Your Destiny:  Resort Operations in the Age of Nuclear Jury Verdicts
Businesses in all industries are experiencing off-the-chart jury verdicts recently, often based on meritless or unsubstantiated claims — and ski areas are not immune from these so-called “nuclear verdicts.”  The good news is that you can control your destiny, with smarter operations, both pre-loss and post-loss.  Using a number of recent incidents and trials, we will underscore key operational considerations to better protect yourselves.  From guest education, signage, and social media, to marking, padding and hazard awareness, we have specific examples and take-aways to re-emphasize the incredible value of smart risk mitigation efforts, punctuated by recent claims.  We will also focus significantly on a likely national standard that could impact all ski areas involving protocols for padding some man-made equipment, and we will conduct a mock deposition underscoring the common tactics plaintiffs’ attorneys use effectively to exploit inconsistent padding and hazard protocols.

Session Two

Ski Statutes:  Do You Know What’s in Yours?
Did you know your State likely has a ski statute or a recreational use statute?  The real question is, do you know what’s in your state’s statutes which regulate skiing or recreational activities?  In this session we’ll examine the lowest bar that each ski area operator has to clear for protections from lawsuits, with a deep dive into some of the unique aspects of these laws, many which have been on the books for four or five decades.  Even if your state does not have a ski statute, there are other relevant laws, including ANSI and recreational use statutes that affect your operations.  We’ll also take a look at other non-statutory ways that ski areas can protect themselves, especially with releases and waivers of liability.  We will explore some unique applications of these various laws with recent examples to show why a solid grasp of these laws are beneficial to improving overall guest safety and protecting your deductible.

Session Three

Regional Roundup:  Claims, Trends, and Trials in your Region, and Important Operational Take-Aways
This spring’s Gwyneth Paltrow trial in Utah was a media circus, but beyond the glitz and glamor of that trial’s spectacle, there are notable operational considerations that can be gleaned from issues raised at trial—handling skier-skier collisions, trail design, ski school operations, patrol response, spoliation of evidence, video surveillance, and the importance of investigations.  With the aid of our amazing ASDA attorneys, we’ll dissect how some of these unique issues play out locally in your region.  In addition, we will examine other recent verdicts, claims, and settlements in your region—wins and losses—and reinforce the operational efforts that help limit exposures.  From routine slip-and-falls and lift incidents, to the importance of contracts and releases of liability, our local ASDA teams will analyze these recent incidents to highlight important risk management protocols.   

Session Four

Hot Takes and Key Trends—Unique Aspects of Risk Management
Given how vast and varied our resort operations can be, there are often a smorgasbord of unique risk management issues that deserve highlighting.  It’s a thorn in your side and there just doesn’t seem to be an obvious workable solution the problem.  This session takes a look at some of these smaller, unique risk management challenges, from after-hours operations, auditing your investigations, recent OSHA and workplace safety challenges, skier behavior on the hill, technology hacks, group events, even pets at resorts—we’ll showcase how other areas have addressed a similar situation.

Session Five

Ski Industry JeopardyEarl Saline, NSAA
I’ll take Lifts for $300. Combining entertainment with education, this engaging session will test your knowledge using a Jeopardy-style game show. With both ski areas and suppliers in mind (along with a little friendly competition), we will be exploring the different education offerings and free and low-cost resources available to help your areas and employees be the best they can be. The game board will include topics like human resources, safety, sustainability, operations, and lifts – all of which are available to you via your MSAA or NSAA membership. Go head-to-head with fellow industry professionals in a fast-paced, interactive format that will challenge your expertise with this unique opportunity to learn, network, and have a blast in a friendly and competitive atmosphere!


Climate Smart Snowmaking Study and Sustainable Slopes.  Kelly Pawlak, NSAA
With Climate Change continuing to affect ski area operations, engaging your customers with NSAA’s Sustainable Slopes Program is good business. The Role and Significance of US Snowmaking in a changing climate.  NSAA and its member resorts have been leading the charge on proactive climate action for over twenty years.  Learn about this important initiative.



How can a smaller Resort afford RFID ticketing? – Michael Bisner – Axess
We asked ChatGPT “What are the advantages of RFID ticketing for skiing?”. What we received was a very concise response focused on the end user <skiers and riders> naming CONVENIENCE as the best reason to implement RFID technology. In this informational session, join Michael Bisner of Axess Americas Inc, to review the “Benefits of RFID Ticketing” for ski areas of all sizes. The conversation has switched to: “I know I need this but how can I afford this technology being a smaller resort”. Let us review the various ways available to PHASE-IN RFID ticketing in an affordable and manageable integration with existing infrastructure. We will review all options that have proven positive results with private ski clubs and smaller ski areas in North America.


General Managers Roundtable.

For Senior Level Managers only.  Join this always lively discussion about what is affecting your operations and how others may help you with the always evolving challenges.


Uphill New England – Ed Warren
Join this session to learn about a new program aimed at unifying the Uphill community and growing ski resort revenue.


Creative Staffing Solutions – Earl Saline, NSAA

Staffing is an ongoing issue for some areas. Culture, hiring process, and developing employee engagement are all critical to cultivate a strong workforce at any area. This interactive session will provide opportunity for everyone to share what is working for them and discuss their success stories and best practices for recruiting, onboarding, and retaining talent in the ski industry. The valuable insights and strategies for attracting and developing top-notch employees are sure to inspire ideas of your own that you can adapt and put into place at your area. Don’t miss this opportunity learn what others are doing and find creative ways to improve your hiring and retention.

Understanding the Energy Needed to Drive your Snowmaking Success –  Ian Jarrett – HKD
There are a number of critical elements necessary to make snow successfully at your Resort.  This session will address the energy required to effectively drive your snowmaking efforts while managing efficiency and costs.  Please join us for this informative and educational presentation.

“Managing Change in Daily Operations- Keeping the Balance of People, Process, and Technology” Kim Schulver, OnlySky

This session will take a look at the People, Process, and Technology Framework and apply it to how we run our business today. We are going to walk through how operational efficiencies can get out of balance when you change one without considering the others. I will also talk about how you need to design and develop your internal solution around the guest experience. Background- PPT framework has been around since the 60’s, before self service technology exists as it does today. This is still foundational for business efficiency but we need to adapt to the self-serve aspect of this.


A Panel Discussion on how you can use AI to help you in your daily operations.  Moderated by Dave Gibson, Propeller Media Works. Join this panel of experts and see how AI can help you.  Any department, any level.  Its here and you need to be ready so you can take advantage of all that is available.

Tues. 11am



ChatGPT: Your AI Co-pilot in Travel and Hospitality Marketing
Mike Lannen – Eternity.

Pack your bags for a journey into the future of travel and hospitality marketing! This session is your boarding pass to exploring the power of ChatGPT. Get ready to turbocharge your marketing efforts, all while keeping your brand’s unique voice front and center. We’ll map out how ChatGPT can be trained on your own documents to replicate your brand’s voice. Imagine a digital concierge that not only enhances your marketing but does it while perfectly channeling your brand’s personality. Whether you’re a seasoned travel marketing entrepreneur or just embarking on your hospitality journey, this session will equip you with a treasure trove of insights, effective tools, and a roadmap for making ChatGPT work for you. So, come join us and discover how to create an AI that’s ready to take your brand’s voice to the next level. Don’t worry, the only thing we’ll be summoning is your brand’s potential, not Skynet!

 Three things attendees can expect to learn:

  1. Learn how to train ChatGPT in your brand voice
    2. Discover how to plan your SEO, blogs, social media and ads with ChatGPT
    3. Downloadable with ChatGPT prompt examples and tips to put into action

Protecting New England Winters:  An Interactive Workshop on Sustaining Our Industry for Future Generations – Dodie Jones- Citizens Climate Lobby
As the effects of climate change become more obvious in New England winters, our industry has a unique capacity to advocate for effective and equitable climate policy. Join Laurie Manos and Peter Dugas of Citizens’ Climate Lobby for an interactive climate policy workshop using MIT’s EN-ROADS Climate Policy simulator to explore regional, national and even global policy options to protect our winter heritage and sustain our industry for future generations. We will brainstorm actions we can take to protect the winters we love. 



A Technology Symphony: How to use your resort’s technology to improve operations, communications, marketing, and more. – Ryan Triffitt – Dirigo

 In this session, we’ll outline the way that resorts should think about their technology and data collection. We’ll outline strategies for ways to streamline technology and get all your systems to work together to create a Mission Control for all your messages. Most of the session will outline practical ways that resorts can coordinate their technology to improve their website, on-mountain signage, operational communications, and more. With so much work to be done with so little time, technology, when used properly, can be a powerful tool. You should never be fighting your technology. In this session, you’ll learn how your technology can become a powerful ally, and all your systems can make beautiful music together.


Real Solutions for Staffing! – Utilizing Seasonal Americans and International Workers, Colleen Debold, Member Services Manager of Seasonal Connect

Get ready to conquer pervasive staffing challenges and propel your company beyond borders.  This session will delve into the staffing struggles that ski areas are experiencing, discuss strategies for addressing these challenges, and share best practices that your organization can employ. The session will further outline utilizations of recruitment methods that allow you to be fully staffed for the winter season. These topics, and more, will be discussed with an eye toward understanding key trends and leveraging these in coming up with solutions to your organization’s biggest staffing and operational struggles.


The Benefits of High Pressure Ductile Pipe – Charles Blier, PNP Pipe.

Everything you wanted to know about High Pressure Ductile Iron Pipe (but were afraid to ask!)


Recruiting and Retaining Snowsports Staff – Kathleen Brennan – PSIA

Recruiting and retaining snowsports staff will be discussed with an eye toward understanding key trends and leveraging these in coming up with solutions to your organization’s staffing and operational struggles.  Topics will include gender equity, staff training, and what it takes to get to become a certified instructor.  With ski areas across the country facing staffing challenges this session is not to be missed.

Pisten Bully – Maintaining and Troubleshooting
Join this session to learn best practices for making sure your fleet of groomers is operating at its best and is out on the slopes grooming instead of in the shop getting repaired.


Everything you need to know about Bearings with Steve Greene, Action Bearings. 9:30 Tuesday
The session will be divided into 3 parts
Part 1 – Bearings and Lubrication – benchmarks for successful installation and maximum life
Part 2 – Why variable frequency drives and bearings do not mix – and what to do about it
Part 3 – Maximizing energy savings with strategic drive belt selection

Water Pumps and their Application in Snowmaking – Tim Wang, Ratnik Snowmaking (Tues. 9:30am)

Tim Wang, Senior Snow Systems Engineer, will do a deep dive on the types of water pumps and how to apply them for various snowmaking situations. Also he’ll be looking at performance parameters, pump curves and how to interpret those. Tim will also cover application of VFD’s and their effects on pump and system performance as well as rebuilding pumps along with basic troubleshooting.

Conveyors – Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tips
Conor Rowan, Ryan Hingston
In this session we will discuss good practice maintenance and troubleshooting for your carpet lifts.

Review of the 5th edition of the Aerial Evacuation Resource Guide.
Tim Bruce, SafeHold
In 2020, NSAA published the 5th Edition of the AERG.  Then along came the pandemic.  Have you spent time reviewing some of the updated procedures to make sure you are up to speed?  Join this discussion and don’t forget to get your copy of the guide from NSAA.