New ski season, slated to begin Friday, is a homecoming for Park City Mountain Resort COO Mike Goar
The Park Record
The 2019-2020 ski season at Park City Mountain Resort, slated to begin Friday, marks a homecoming for new Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar. He served eight years at the helm of the former Canyons Resort before it merged with PCMR.
After stops at Keystone Resort in Colorado and in Lake Tahoe overseeing Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood, Goar has found his way back to Utah.
“Just a few months ago I had the opportunity to come back to Park City and I could not have been more thrilled,” Goar said. “This was home, I would say, because of all the years I lived and worked in Utah.”
Prior to his time at Canyons, Goar worked for 27 years at Solitude Mountain Resort. His three children were all born and raised in northern Utah.
“My wife and I have three grown children, a son-in-law, and two granddaughters, and they all live here in Salt Lake,” Goar said in an interview in advance of opening day. “So this move really did mean coming home for me.”
Apart from being closer to family, Goar said he relished the opportunity a return to Park City represented for him professionally.
“When I left, the resorts really were just getting underway in combining the Canyons and Park City Mountain,” he said. “So I was not part of that process. I saw it from afar. So to come back and be part of it now is very exciting.”
Goar said he hopes his experiences at Keystone and Lake Tahoe will benefit him in his return.
“I’ve looked back at the moves I’ve made, and each place has been hard to leave,” he said. “But it’s a growth opportunity, right? You go out, take on a new challenge, see new things, and you’re better for it. I feel like I’ve learned so much at these other stops that I hope I’m a stronger leader now coming back.”
Goar returned full-time to Park City at the beginning of October, and he said he’s just about gotten his bearings. He said he wanted to take a careful approach to the acclimation process, noting that he has to adjust to his employees just as they need to adjust to him.
“I’m trying to be realistic and understand that things have changed since I was here last,” he said. “Certainly I am not coming back thinking, ‘Oh, I have this all figured out, I’m dialed in.’ I’m not dialed in. So I’m trying to be mindful that there has been change and I’ve tried to be tuned into that.”
At the same time, acclimating to the community hasn’t been difficult. Goar jokingly likened it to a high school reunion.
“It’s been amazing seeing so many familiar faces,” he said. “It’s been fun to see everyone in our meetings, and I am so grateful for the warm welcome I’ve had since I came back.”
What’s new this season
Goar said he is excited to get the season underway, with two projects in particular he is eager to introduce to the community. First and foremost, he said, is the new Over and Out lift, a fixed-grip quad that will pick up guests near the base of the Tombstone Express lift and drop them off near the top of Sunrise lift, allowing skiers to more easily descend into Canyons Village.
“It’s funny, because it’s a little lift,” he said. “We’ve all built bigger lifts, right? But I’ve never been as excited for a chairlift as I am for this one, simply because of the impact it will have on the guest experience.”
Goar said if a skier is coming from the southern parts of the mountain, including the Park City side of the resort, to the Canyons Village base, that skier has to go through Tombstone.
“And then they have a choice of two runs,” he said. “One, Red Pine Road, is really easy, and the other, Sidewinder, is quite a bit harder.”
Over and Out, he said, gives skiers a third option.
“This new lift takes you from the base of Tombstone a short ride up and over, hence the name Over and Out, back to Canyons Village,” he said. “It’s fantastic and it will change the experience for our guests in so many ways.”
Primarily, he said, the benefit is expediency. If it’s the end of the day and a skier is tired, they’ll be able to head straight to the base.
“Of course the two runs are still great options if that’s what you want,” he said. “But this is a third choice, and then there’s the simple fact that we are adding capacity, which we expect will essentially cut the lift lines for Tombstone in half.”
Speaking of Tombstone, Goar said the other big addition to the on-mountain experience is the new Tombstone Restaurant, which replaces the former Tombstone Grill and features 50 seats indoors and an expanded snow beach area.
“Not only is it bigger, it’s been realigned out of the way of the most congested areas, which will really make a difference. And it still features the same menu, so you’ll still be able to get barbecue on the mountain.”
For those with little ones new to skiing or snowboarding, the Park City base will now feature an expanded learning area similar to High Meadow Park on the Canyons side.
“Those are the real highlights heading into the season,” Goar said. “And I have to say, while I look forward to every ski season, I think I’m even more so looking forward to this one.”
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Over the next five years, Katz will donate the money to nonprofits participating in Vail Resorts’ youth access efforts that serve major metropolitan areas.