| Home | Economy | 2024-06-20

Ski NH Announces 2024 Ski Industry Awards at Annual Conference

North Conway, NH – Ski New Hampshire, the state’s ski trade association, revealed the recipients of their highly anticipated annual industry awards at its 2024 Annual Conference & Trade Show held at Cranmore Mountain Resort. “We were so impressed with and, frankly, awed at the accomplishments of this year’s award winners,” Ski NH’s president, Jessyca Keeler, said. “These folks who have achieved so much for the New Hampshire ski industry are truly deserving of the recognition these awards afford.”

The awards presented by Ski New Hampshire are as follows:

Ski NH’s Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 1999 to recognize a member of the New Hampshire ski industry who has devoted a large part of his/her professional career to furthering the NH ski area experience for our guests. Past recipients of the Ski NH Lifetime Achievement Award include Phil Gravink, David Buckman, Bill Roy, Thom Perkins, and Bebe Wood. This year’s award was presented to Joe Cushing in recognition of his accomplishments during his industrious 35-year career in ski area planning and design, by Claire Humber, Director of Resort Planning for SE Group.

A student from Dartmouth College and self-proclaimed “ski bum”, Humber said, “Joe Cushing in 1961 joined SE Group, which some of you may know as; the company was founded in NH and was the first company in North America to focus on the planning and design of ski areas. 

Over the course of his career, Joe was invited to explore more than 400 ski area projects with around 150 of them including some or all of his design influence. Over 10% of the projects were in Cushing’s native state of NH. Bretton Woods was one of his first signature projects. In honor of the resort’s 50th anniversary in 2023, Bretton Woods General Manager Chris Ellms sat down with Cushing to talk about his early work at Bretton Woods. In a clip from a video of this interview, Cushing talks about his first impression seeing his favorite trail (Granny’s Grit) for the first time during the winter season: “It was like heaven … and an artist viewing his painting from afar and saying ‘I like it.’”

In recognition of his work as a pioneer of trail design, Cushing was inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2014. Before presenting Cushing with Ski NH’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Humber shared a note from Joe’s son Chris who is also a mountain planner. “The landscape of skiing across North America would not be what it is today without the lifetime of contribution from Joe Cushing. Joe, we are honored to have known you, worked alongside you, and to be stewards of your legacy.

“You have taught us much about the mountains that we love. And, for those of us paying attention along the way, you have imparted much worldly wisdom, most importantly that choosing a profession that blurs the line between work and play, clients and friends, coworkers and family, leads to a long and happy life.”

The H.H. “Bill” Whitney Award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the ski and snowboard industry in New Hampshire. The H.H. "Bill" Whitney Award was established in the mid-1970s by Betty Whitney in memory of her husband, to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the ski and snowboard industry in New Hampshire. 

Bill Whitney owned and operated Black Mountain Ski Area in Jackson, the oldest ski area in NH, as well as the slopeside inn that today still bears his name. He was active in all aspects of skiing and ski area operation. This year’s Whitney Award was presented to Ted Sutton of Lincoln, NH by Bruce Berke, founder of Sheehan Phinney Capitol Group and legislative advisor for Ski New Hampshire.

According to Berke, Sutton has had a long and extensive career in the ski industry, which started when he put on a pair of 10th Mountain Division skis given to him by his uncle. Sutton has served as a ski racing coach, an instructor, and a snowmaker. He helped develop a Buddy Werner league in eastern Massachusetts and eventually became the director of ski racing at both Crotched Mountain and Loon Mountain Resort. 

As a certified ski racing official, Sutton was selected to be the Assistant to the Chief of Race at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. This experience led him to become a USSA technical delegate and an International Ski Federation (FIS) course inspector and technical delegate. After Sutton “retired” from working with the FIS Committee, he became part of the team to work on trail development for race training at Mittersill at Cannon Mountain, and served as a Chief of Race at the 2016 World Cup event at Killington. 

Additionally, Sutton served as the environmental and government relations manager at Loon Mountain Resort from the late ‘80s into the turn of the century, and also as the Chair of Ski NH’s Government Relations Committee. “In this capacity,” said Berke, “Ted helped lay a foundation for the ski world to move forward and further develop skiing opportunities while being environmentally responsible.”

In receiving the award, Sutton expressed his gratitude for the award and added: “You don’t do things by yourself. You have people there to help and support you, and I appreciate them.”

Ski NH’s Al Merrill Award was established in memory of Al Merrill to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Nordic skiing in New Hampshire. Al Merrill, the "Silver Fox," was Dartmouth College's cross-country ski coach and Director of Outdoor Affairs for nearly 30 years. He was a key organizer for many national and Olympic racing events in the 1970s and '80s.  

This year’s Merrill Award was presented to Scott Halvorson by National High School Ski Jumping Champion and Coach of Kennett High School Ski Jumping in North Conway, Chip Henry. In Henry’s words, Halvorson “single-handedly spearheaded the fundraising needed to bring back the Nansen Ski Jump.” 

The “Big Nansen” ski jump, Milan, NH’s 171.5-foot tall steel structure, was built in 1937, hosted the first US Olympic tryouts in 1938, followed by the FIS World Championships, four US National Ski Jumping Championships, and various other regional and international competitions until it was abandoned in 1988. Then came along the “Friends of Nansen Ski Jump” and former World Champion ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson who with a Red Bull sponsorship supported the redecking of the jump and made “her ‘Last Leap’ jump on the morning of March 4, 2017, symbolizing the return to action for both her and the Sleeping Giant,” as written on

Since then, with Halvorson leading the way, additional restoration of the “Big Nansen” is underway, and the new “Little Nansen” ski jump (a K39-sized hill half the size of the Big Nansen) and “The Li’l Nansen” jump (a K10-sized hill) have been completed, enabling the first jumping competitions since 1985 to be held in January of 2022 at the location. 

Ski jumping in NH is back because of Halvorson, said Henry. “The kids love the jump. We were praying to the Nordic gods to bring back ski jumping and we got Scott Halvorson.” Halvorson thanked Henry and Ski NH for the recognition, along with the State and everyone who has contributed to making the dream of bringing back the Nansen a reality. He also recognized Henry’s contributions to ski jumping. “The goal is to get kids skiing and jumping,” he said, “and we’re doing that.”

Ski NH’s Next Gen Award salutes young professionals who are working at a Ski New Hampshire member resort, are under the age of 40, and are making an impact in the state’s ski industry and exemplifying innovative leadership.

This year’s award was presented to Sarah Lenau, Marketing Manager for both Mount Sunapee and Crotched Mountain, by Peter Disch, General Manager at Mount Sunapee. In his presentation, Disch spoke about how Sarah had the idea to create the world’s first ski-through lighthouse as a nod to the three active lighthouses that operate on Lake Sunapee. “Over 8,000 guests have skied through it in its first year. The lighthouse will be integrated into a mountain bike trail this summer and has become a new tradition for guests to enjoy at Sunapee.”

At Crotched Mountain, Sarah celebrated the resort’s 60th birthday by leaning into one of the mountain’s most unique offerings, Midnight Madness, according to Disch. “Sarah brought out all the stops for the special day with a seemingly endless supply of cupcakes, glow sticks, flashing sunglasses and a ski-through light tunnel nicknamed ‘Warp Speed’”.

Outside of her full-time duties, Sarah has been a key leader in an important community event benefiting NH Boys and Girls Clubs: The Duck Drop. This annual event brings people to Mount Sunapee to drop over 25,000 miniature rubber ducks off the lift at targets for a prize. The proceeds from the event have totaled over $300,000 since Sarah got involved.

The Ski NH Media Award was established in the late 1980s to recognize a member of the media for excellence in coverage of the New Hampshire ski industry through balanced and objective reporting. Creativity and enthusiasm for outdoor winter recreation are a plus. Past recipients of the Ski NH Media Award include the likes of Tom Eastman, Marty Basch, Paula Tracy, Tim Kelley, and Matt Noyes. This year’s award was granted to Moira McCarthy, ski writer and columnist for the Boston Herald.

Kathy Bennett of Kathy Bennett Marketing who has worked with Moira McCarthy for many years described McCarthy’s commitment to journalism and how her yearning to be a ski writer started young: “After standing up on fifth grade career day with a copy of SKI Magazine and announcing she’d be a ski writer one day, Moira McCarthy went on to serve as a contributing editor at Snow Country Magazine, and then a long time (more than 25 years) contributor to SKI Magazine and Ski Area Management Magazine. Additionally, she has written the Boston Herald’s weekly Ski Wednesday section for 24 years. The North American Snowsports Journalism Association (NASJA) has recognized McCarthy’s contribution to snowsports journalism with their Harold Hirsch and Mitch Kaplan Awards.

“One noteworthy subject Moira wrote about this year was how unlike in other industries, large and small “competing” ski areas often work together for the common good of all resorts, their guests, and the ski industry. Resorts from NH and other places were included in her story which was featured in March’s SAM Magazine.”

As McCarthy was traveling abroad at the time of this award presentation, a long-time friend in the ski industry, Bonnie MacPherson of Gunstock Mountain Resort, received the award on her behalf. 
Ski New Hampshire is the statewide association representing 30+ alpine and cross-country resorts in New Hampshire. For more information on ski areas, trail conditions, vacation planning, and updated events at Ski New Hampshire resorts, visit

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