WATERVILLE VALLEY, NH -- Ski New Hampshire, the state ski industry association, proudly revealed the recipients of their highly anticipated annual industry awards at the 2023 Annual Conference held at Waterville Valley Resort on June 6-7, 2023. Ski New Hampshire presented three prestigious accolades: the H.H. “Bill” Whitney Award; the Al Merrill Award; and the NextGen Award. The announcement of these honorees signifies yet another remarkable year within the thriving ski industry of the Granite State.
Jessyca Keeler, President of Ski New Hampshire, stated, “Folks from the state's ski areas along with our numerous industry partners and associate members gather each year to celebrate our accomplishments from the prior season as well as to honor those who have contributed so much to New Hampshire's ski industry. This year was no exception and we are so pleased to recognize these highly deserving individuals.”
The awards presented by Ski New Hampshire are as follows:
The Whitney Award is given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the ski and snowboard industry in New Hampshire. Ski NH recognized Tom Bates, Field Service Engineer at N.H. Electric Motors. Bates has worked with N.H. Electric Motors for 50 years.
The award was presented by Gunstock General Manager Tom Day, who shared, “Tom has been ‘saving the day’ at multiple ski areas in NH since the early 1980s. His knowledge of the electric drives of the ski area lifts and snowmaking equipment is unparalleled. Tom always answers the phone no matter what time of day and night and shows up to resolve whatever crisis that's happening. This makes him a deserving recipient of the Bill Whitney Award.”
Tim Smith, President and General Manager of Waterville Valley Resort, described him best when he said, “Tom Bates has been bailing everyone out of lift issues since before I was out of diapers. He teaches, mentors, and supports each and every lift electrician around the state. I feel he is one of the most unsung heroes of our industry in NH.”
The Merrill Award was established to recognize an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to cross-country skiing in the state. This year’s award went to Peter Hendel of the Holderness School in Holderness, NH. Heidi Lange, Executive Director of the New England Nordic Ski Association, accepted the award on his behalf.
"NENSA's mission is to nurture and sustain an active cross-country ski community for all ages and levels throughout the East," explained Heidi. "As a coach, mentor, teacher, advocate, fundraiser, groomer, and venue champion, Peter has certainly served this mission and deserves to be honored."
Peter came to Holderness in 1988 as a Math teacher, coach, and dorm adviser. He became a Nordic coach for the Holderness team and has been one since 1988. He was twice Head Coach of the New England Team at U.S. Junior Nationals and competed in the 2014 and 2015 World Masters Championships.
In addition, Peter serves as a board member for NENSA and has been a driving force behind the growth of the Holderness Bill Koch League.
Holderness Coach Peter Durnan shared, “Hendel loves skiing. He traveled to Italy to ski in the World Masters. He hikes up to Cascade Trail in April to get in the last ski of the year. The older Hendel gets, the more he devotes his life to kids. He has been central to our burgeoning youth program here at school. He is a marvelously generous spirit with youngsters."
The NextGen Award salutes young professionals who are currently 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.
The award was presented to James “Jimmy” Nelson, of McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, NH. Ross Boisvert, President and General Manager of McIntyre, explained why he nominated Jimmy:
“Jimmy started in snowsports and worked with skiers of all ages. When we started our adaptive program and Special Olympics program, he jumped right in and created lifelong relationships with the athletes. Jimmy eventually moved into the position of Hill Operations Director. Being part of a small resort, Hill Operations is all-encompassing, meaning everything on the hill - lifts, snowmaking, grooming, overseeing lift attendants, training, maintenance of lifts, and equipment. It is a huge responsibility. Jimmy is very deserving of this award.”