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Peter King Leaves His Throne After 44 Years

by Christine Benedetti

After 45 years, Peter King is saying goodbye to Aspen Skiing Co. In May, the Aspen Mountain manager will step down from his post to retire. But first, he recounts his tenure in the Roaring Fork Valley, from arriving here as a ski bum in 1971 to climbing the company’s ranks—from ski instructor at Buttermilk to one of SkiCo’s most coveted positions: leading its crown jewel.

How do you feel leaving on top?
I started out at Buttermilk, and it was really special. What a marvelous place. It's so rewarding to watch people start as never-evers and fall in love with skiing and be blown away with how fun the experience is. The 12 years here [at Aspen Mountain] have been fabulous. I often feel I have the best job in the world.

What are some of your proudest accomplishments?
As a ski instructor [and former Buttermilk Ski School director], being able to introduce people to the sport and help them along and get them into it and share the love that I have for the sport with other people. You really feel good when it hits someone and they can do it...

I certainly wasn’t doing a lot of the work, but I’m proud of World Cup and the level it rose to during my time. Jim Hancock’s team on the hill, the entire organizing committee and the community worked so hard and it culminated a year ago with the very successful World Cup Finals. That was probably the biggest event we’ve had here in alpine ski racing since the ‘50s. … I thought in all my years here, it captured the hearts of the whole community more than any other event.
What has been your biggest challenge?
We have been asked frequently at the beginning or end of the season to start early or extend if we have adequate snow. At first it was difficult because it was out of our comfort zone. It was tough in the beginning but I’m proud of the teamwork, the ingenuity, and the “we can get this done” attitude that said “Why not? If we’ve got the snow, let’s do it.” The team is proud that they can do it and they enjoy presenting the mountain to anybody that comes skiing or riding.
It’s a powder day, where do you go?
In all honesty, on a powder morning it’s pretty frenetic around here. I’m usually trying to help manage the chaos down here with the lines that go to City Market, but when I do get a chance, I head for the Face of Bell, get down that and go up 6 and ski the Dumps. The powder morning frenzy keeps us all pretty busy. If I get up by late morning it’s a good thing.

How much do you actually get to ski?
The fact that I can get up on the mountain every day and that I should get up on the mountain every day is one of the benefits of the job.

What are you favorite memories?

My fondest memories are the friendships and relationships with all the people I’ve been able to work with over the years. The professional relationships you build and the friendships are most rewarding.

What are your hopes for Aspen Mountain?

I’m torn leaving now because we’ve got exciting things coming up with the Pandora expansion and more snowmaking. I just hope it goes smoothly and I get to come back and ski it!

What advice would you give your successor?

Enjoy it and know that the people you’re working with are the best.

What do you have planned for your retirement?
Enjoying all our wonderful valley has to offer on my schedule!

Published March 2018

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