Johnnie Stevens, a Telluride native and lifelong skier, played a pivotal role in shaping the region’s ski history. In the 1970s, during Telluride Ski Area’s early development, he served as the head of the ski patrol and assistant mountain manager, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of skiers and visitors.
Born in Montrose and raised in Pandora, Johnnie’s roots ran deep in Telluride, where a diverse community thrived. As a devout Catholic, he was an altar boy and a key figure in the town’s religious life, often assisting with funerals, a somber reminder of the mining accidents that marked Telluride’s history.
Johnnie’s dedication extended beyond the ski patrol, as he later became the COO of Telluride Ski Resort, earning induction into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame. Today, he continues to impact the ski industry as the General Manager of the Cimarron Mountain Club near Montrose.
Johnnie Stevens’ legacy stands as a reminder of the power of community, respect, and unity in shaping a town’s identity and future. It’s a call for Telluride to cherish its heritage, embrace diversity, and work together to preserve the soul of this remarkable mountain town.
BIll “Senior” Mahoney
Senior grew up in Telluride and started working in the local mine at age 15. He always had a love of exploration and skiing. He knew that as the mining boom faded, Telluride needed a new attraction in order to have a viable economy.
Mahoney became the Telluride Ski Company’s second employee, after his wife Twylla the first employee, running the mountain’s snowcat operation during the ski resort’s first seasons, and later assumed the roles of mountain manager and vice president until his retirement in 1993.
Vast knowledge of local skiable terrain wasn’t the only asset Mahoney brought to the table during the Telluride Ski Resort’s infancy. Mahoney worked diligently to solve complicated water rights and mining claim issues, skillfully negotiated the local political scene (he served on Telluride Town Council for consecutive terms from 1968-75), and even was the town’s weather reporter for many decades.
Ron Allred developed and executed on the vision that resulted in the Telluride and Mountain Village we all know and love today. Ron knew that the most important aspect of building a ski resort from scratch was to have a bed base. Fortunately, his 4.2 million purchase from Joe Zoline and Simonius-Vischer Corporation, included enough land for both the ski resort and future lodging. In that first year, Allred spent 5 million followed by 4 million the second year. He also invested $4 million in the design and construction of the Telluride Regional Airport, which was a very important aspect of Allred’s vision. “If we didn’t get the airport done, we would not have built the resort,” said Allred.
Allred went on to build the gondola, the only one of its kind in the country because it connects the two towns, Telluride and Mountain Village, as a free public transportation system. The year after the gondola was constructed, Allred’s Restaurant was completed on the original site where Allred first stood to begin to realize his dream. Now and into the future, Telluride guests can see Allred’s vision and why, today, Telluride is one of the greatest ski resorts in the country.
Jeff Proteau’s started at Telluride Ski & Golf Resort over 25 years ago. In his role as Vice President of Operations and Planning, he orchestrates the day-to-day intricacies of ski area operations and spearheads the strategic execution of mountain improvement projects. Notably, Jeff’s expertise shone during his tenure as the Vice President of Planning and Environmental Affairs, where he masterminded the acquisition of approvals and the seamless expansion of the ski area into the Prospect and Palmyra Basins.
Beyond his corporate achievements, Jeff’s commitment to the community is equally remarkable. He donned multiple hats, serving as Chairman of both the Mountain Village Owners Association and the Mountain Village Design Review Board, exemplifying his dedication to shaping the locale. Furthermore, he lent his leadership as President of the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club, fostering the growth of young talents in the sport.
Before his journey in the ski industry, Jeff Proteau left an indelible mark while leading the Design/Build department for a Landscape and Reclamation contractor in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, showcasing his versatility and penchant for excellence.
Outside the boardroom, Jeff remains an ardent enthusiast in the realms of skiing, fly fishing, and exploring the backcountry. Jeff Proteau’s contributions have left an enduring legacy that transcends the slopes, a testament to his dedication and passion for the mountainous wonders he so dearly cherishes.
Annie has worked for Telluride Ski Resort for an incredible 50 years. She was the director of Ski School from 1978 until 2001, and then was a long-time advisor for the ski biomechanics camp. We are grateful for her contributions over the years, and are excited to honor her efforts.
Tom “Socko” Sokolowski
Detroit native Socko embarked on a remarkable journey that made him an integral part of Telluride Ski Resort’s history. After graduating from Michigan State University, Socko headed to Colorado in 1969. He was living in Aspen when the allure of Telluride brought him to this picturesque mountain town in July 1972. His Telluride journey began with a relentless drive to work for the ski company. He and a few friends stopped by Bill “Senior” Mahoney’s office every day around 8am looking for work. Eventually, Senior yelled, “F&*k it, get in the truck.” Socko officially had a job clearing trails at a meager wage of $2.75 per hour. Even when winter arrived and he faced a pay cut, Socko’s passion for the mountains kept him going.
Despite having only three years of skiing experience, Socko aimed high and tried out for the ski patrol during his first winter. Although he didn’t make it that year, he joined the winter trail team. Socko’s dedication showed as he ski-packed Lift 4, 5, and 6 areas, and the big front making him a stronger skier. The functionality of snow cats and groomers was limited in the early 70’s. He also spent time shoveling down moguls to keep them manageable. He excelled and joined the ski patrol the following winter. Those early years at Telluride were marked by good snow and few skiers. Socko remembers days with as few as 35 to 100 skiers and waiting at the base of lifts to strike up conversations with fellow enthusiasts. Since then, Socko has continued to patrol the slopes, finding solace and fulfillment in the early morning serenity of the mountains and the opportunity to help others.
Socko’s journey from Detroit to Telluride epitomizes passion, resilience, and love for the mountains. His legacy is woven into the fabric of Telluride Ski Resort, where his dedication will forever inspire us all.
Chris Blanchard is a devoted ski trail groomer in the winter, who has been a team member here at Telski for over 30 years. Chris was recognized by Colorado Ski Country’s Double Diamond Awards as Groomer of the Year for his impeccable efforts. Chris was also featured in an article by the NYT, where he shared his expertise on winch cats. We are very proud to have Chris on our team.
Rowena was born and raised in England and had never skied. She moved to Chamonix and learn to ski in the 80s, then discovered Telluride with friends from Chamonix. In 1987, she started work as the first hostess (snow reporter) for Telluride ski resort. She was hired by Mike Hess and shared a tiny office with Johnny Stevens, where she did the snow report each morning calling numerous radio stations. Afterwards, she would give a guided tour of the ski area.
“I skied far too many closed ski runs and got fined large amounts of beer by the ski patrol. I was soon known for my utter addiction to skiing” Rowena said about her earlier years at Telski.
She then left the resort to travel around the world a couple of times and eventually got married. Afterwards, she moved back to Telluride in 1997 and started working in the Saloon at what we now know as Gorrono Ranch.
Rowena says that her passion for Telluride comes largely from the thrill and magic of living in the mountains. “I am driven by my love of the mountains. Everywhere I look I have hiked, biked, climbed or skied it. I like knowing I have put my name on all these peaks surrounding me. I live in the heart of the mountains in Ophir.”
She also reports that she never tires of making cocktails and being creative. “I enjoy introducing people and the conversations that follow. ” The Saloon is where tourists get to feel like a local. It’s where she is the Host of the Party, at which people go to socialize in a Saloon, and connect, while still wearing their ski boots!!!
Rowena’s favorite run is Misty Maiden, and she makes not only a mean margarita, but the best kids hot chocolate you’ve ever seen. Visit her at Telluride Ski Resort’s best kept secret – the Gorrono Ranch Saloon!
An Honorable Mention to all of our wonderful team members who have worked at Telluride Ski Resort for 15+ years:
|John Harvey Andrew
|Christopher J Chase
|Jeremy Carl Snader
|Robert L Lang
|Kevin Ross Younger
|Garan Mangan Dimuzio
|John Karl Welter