DONNER SUMMIT, Calif. - JoJo Toeppner, a 31-year veteran of cross-country ski instruction and resort management, has been hired by Sugar Bowl Resort to oversee the operation of Royal Gorge, the largest cross-country ski resort in the U.S.
Sugar Bowl Resort will operate Royal Gorge under an agreement with the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land. The two conservation groups have agreed to purchase the iconic Donner Summit property after the previous owners defaulted on their loan.
Toeppner comes to Royal Gorge from Tahoe Donner Cross Country, where she worked for 20 years - as an instructor, assistant manager, and manager. Toeppner has 31 years of experience in the Tahoe cross-country ski world, having also spent 11 years at Tahoe Nordic in Tahoe City (now called Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area).
Toeppner is an accomplished athlete, having won 10 championships as an outrigger canoe paddler and competed as a member of the U.S. World team for flatwater kayak sprints. After a life of competing on the water, Toeppner moved to Tahoe and embraced the joys and aerobic challenges of cross-country skiing.
Toeppner said she will focus on impeccable cross-county ski trail grooming, excellent instruction and attentive customer service at Royal Gorge.
"I am assembling a team that will bring Royal Gorge back to what it once was - one of North America's most iconic cross-country ski areas," said Toeppner. "We will work hard to deliver a cross-country ski experience that everyone can enjoy."
Toeppner will have two additional Bison grooming machines at her disposal this season, as Sugar Bowl Resort has invested more than $500,000 into upgrades at the cross-country ski resort, including changes to the resort's lodge, Summit Station.
Toeppner, who learned to cross-country ski at Royal Gorge, said the resort's potential lies in its natural features - its high elevation, expansive terrain, and easy access off of Interstate 80. She is currently assembling a team of Royal Gorge instructors, groomers and customer service personnel who will operate the resort under the leadership of Sugar Bowl Resort.
After all of the hiring and administrative work is put in place, don't expect to see Toeppner sitting behind a computer in the manager's office. As a former ski instructor and top-level athlete, Toeppner describes herself as a "hands-on manager."
"I won't ask anyone to do something I wouldn't do myself," said Toeppner.
About Royal Gorge
With more than 200 kilometers of trails and approximately 6,000 acres of terrain, Royal Gorge is the largest cross-country ski resort in the nation. Royal Gorge cross-country skiing varies from the beginner-friendly, open expanse of Van Norden Meadows to the challenging trails at the foot of majestic Devil's Peak. The Summit Station lodge is the center of the cross-country resort and warming huts dot the expansive trail system.
Cross-country skiers can purchase an unrestricted Royal Gorge season pass for $299 ($249 for young adults and seniors). Sugar Bowl passholders can add a Royal Gorge season pass for $149 ($99 for young adults and seniors). For more information visit royalgorge.com or sugarbowl.com.