Pat O'Donnell - Sport Builder - 2007
Although Pat was born in San Francisco in 1938, far away from mountains and snow, it didn’t take him long to find his passion. His career with the ski industry began in the winter of 1968-69 when we became the Assistant Manager and then General Manager of Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite National Park. As a protector of a ski area inside one of America’s foremost National Parks, Patrick began his lessons in stewardship of mountain environments. A visionary within the ski community, when O’Donnell first came to the Aspen Skiing Company he brought an appreciation and understanding for the fact that the future of skiing depends on the industry’s relationship with the natural environment. Responsible care of the mountain environment was O’Donnell’s mission as he moved the Aspen Skiing Company to the forefront of the green movement. At a time when environmental concerns and ski area operations were at opposite ends of the spectrum, O’Donnell blazed a trail to cross that divide, realizing that any ski area’s long-term success depends on its ability to protect the natural environment. Under O’Donnell’s leadership, Aspen introduced one of the first environmental foundations started by a ski area, the first sustainability report in the ski industry, the first use of biodiesel fuel in snowcats and the largest solar array in the ski industry, to name just a few of his innovations. Many of these programs challenged the rest of the ski industry to follow suit and set a new standard of accountability. Through his continued push for sustainability, conservation and environmental protection, O’Donnell forever changed the face of Colorado’s snow sports industry and helped ensure the beauty of Colorado’s ski country will endure for future generations to enjoy. As of 2008, Pat is retired and living in the Grand Junction, Colorado area.