Heavenly snags top manager from Sierra | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Heavenly snags top manager from Sierra

As it gears up for Friday’s opening, Heavenly Ski Resort has undergone a few high-level management changes. One involves the rehiring of one of its own — Casey Blann starts Nov. 25.

The Sierra-at-Tahoe assistant general manager replaces 30-year employee Malcolm Tibbetts, the former vice president of mountain operations. Tibbetts, who promoted Blann years ago, was unavailable for comment Monday.

“After being gone from Heavenly for nearly a decade, I feel a sense of coming home,” said Blann, who worked at Sierra-at-Tahoe for nine years. He reported to General Manager John Rice. Sierra is in the process of looking for his successor.

Prior to his stint at Sierra he had worked at Heavenly for a dozen years. At one point, Tibbetts urged Blann to take the snowmaking manager job.

“It’s kind of sad. (Tibbetts is) a great guy. I guess Blaise (Carrig) and Vail wanted to make a change,” Blann said.

Carrig, the new chief operating officer, replaced President Dennis Harmon after Vail took over the South Shore ski resort last spring.

Blann, 43, returns to Vail Resorts’ with a lifetime of experience.

He started skiing at age 2, growing up in Bend, Ore., where his father was general manager at Mount Bachelor.

“I knew all along I wanted to join the ski industry,” he said.

A business major in college, Blann was hired as a lift supervisor on the California side by Bill Killebrew, who ran the California-Nevada split ski area at the time.

Times were tough though. The early 1980s were known as the drought years.

“Of course, I picked (1981) to get into it straight out of college. It was a little rough,” he said.

But snow conditions improved, and Blann’s career progressed.

He’s looking forward to the big job facing him, with his first order of business surrounding “spending time with the staff to get grounded.”

He will oversee all aspects of mountain operations, including lift operations, grooming, snowmaking, ski patrol, facility maintenance, vehicle operations and guest services.

Setting in motion its own management changes including the firing of its president, Vail has pledged many improvements in Heavenly lift operations and guest services in particular. This was all with the goal of elevating Heavenly to the status of its flagship Colorado resort. The ski area operator also runs Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone.

“It’s definitely challenging, but it’s not anything we can’t overcome. Blaise made it very clear he wants to bring the best experience to the West,” Blann said.

In his first winter season at Heavenly, Carrig hails from The Canyons in Park City.

“Heavenly is headed in a new direction and these changes reflect that,” Carrig said.

The chief also promoted Andrew Strain to vice president of planning and governmental affairs, the same department he served as director.

Strain, who’s worked at Heavenly since 1998, is active in the community. He serves on the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition, Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce and South Shore Transportation Management Association.

Strain was instrumental in the resort’s master plan.

In addition, Ski and Snowboard School Director Michael Allen will now report to Carrig. Director of Mountain Operations Jamie Seifert will oversee lift operations and the mountain ambassadors. Jim Larmore, Heavenly’s snowmaking manager, will be responsible for snow quality relative to grooming and snowmaking.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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