Rock is ready to roll at PCMR |

Rock is ready to roll at PCMR

by Jay Hamburger, THE PARK RECORD

Bill Rock is ready to roll at Park City Mountain Resort.

PCMR owner Vail Resorts put Rock in charge of the resort at a critical time. He is the senior vice president and chief operating officer of PCMR with oversight of the Vail Resorts-operated Canyons Resort as well. Rock will be a pivotal figure as PCMR and Canyons Resort are linked into a single property prior to the 2015-2016 ski season. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most closely watched positions in the ski industry as PCMR prepares to become the largest mountain resort in the U.S. He arrived in November.

Rock left Northstar California Resort, another Vail Resorts property, for Park City just before the opening of the ski season and two months after Colorado-based Vail Resorts acquired PCMR from Powdr Corp. in a $182.5 million deal. The acquisition also settled a lawsuit centered on the former owner of the resort’s lease of the land underlying most of the resort’s terrain.

Vail Resorts recently outlined an ambitious set of improvements at PCMR and Canyons Resort planned in 2015. The centerpiece is a gondola connecting the two. Rock said in an interview the chance to be in a leadership post as the two properties are linked is rare and appealing.

"Vail Resorts is such an innovative company and we have the resources to kind of put our vision into action," Rock said, adding, "to be able to lead that and build the team that’s going to deliver this new transformative experience into the future is, I think, an opportunity of a lifetime."

Rock is 49 years old and has held a succession of positions in the ski industry. Other career stops have included Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia and Durango Mountain Resort in Colorado. Ten years or so ago, Rock said, he and his wife, Jennifer, drafted a list of places they would like to live someday. Park City topped the list, Rock said, explaining that the community is an attractive place for numerous reasons.

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"If you’re in the ski business, you always think about where your career can take you. And luckily it takes you to some pretty nice places," he said.

Rock said he is building relationships in the community, saying, from his perspective, the efforts are going well. He acknowledged, though, he is not the person who determines whether the relationship building is working. He mentioned Vail Resorts’ grants to not-for-profit organizations and the announcement of the mountain improvements as he talked about the efforts in the community.

"Announcing this transformational capital project has been way beyond expectations of what people thought we might do. I think all relationships are built on doing what you say you’re going to do. And so far we’ve done that. I think we’re off to a good start, but, you know, we’re probably not the best judge of that," Rock said.

He said he has held discussions with numerous people and Vail Resorts is broadly engaged in Park City. Rock said he has found that Parkites "are passionate about the resorts and their community." Rock said he continues to learn about the challenges the community faces.

"With great expectations come great responsibility. People have high expectations for us. They know what the potential is. Obviously this is a huge financial investment. And this community is very engaged in what happens at the ski resorts. So, to deliver for all of our stakeholders makes it a tough job," Rock said.

Other topics Rock addressed included:

  • working for publicly traded Vail Resorts. He said the goals of publicly traded companies are similar to those of privately held ones.

    "I’ve worked for public companies and I’ve worked for private, mom-and-pop companies who own ski resorts. And, honestly, the expectations aren’t different. In all cases, people are trying to deliver the best experience for their guests. They’re trying to maximize the return on their investment and they’re trying to take good care of their employees. So, I haven’t really seen a difference," Rock said.

  • the unknowns about plans for further connections between the terrain at today’s PCMR and Canyons Resort as the two are molded into the single resort. He said the gondola expected to be built in 2015 will take 8 1/2 minutes to ride.

    "It’s going to be a pretty convenient way to move between the mountains. So, in terms of what else we might do to connect them and interface, it’s too early to speculate on what that might be. We’re focused on doing this for this summer," Rock said.

  • Vail Resorts’ support for One Wasatch, an idea to link the seven mountain resorts in the region.

    "We’ve supported the concept of One Wasatch and we still do. I guess what I’d say is we’re putting it into action. I mean, we’re connecting two of the resorts, so we’re the first connection," Rock said.

    He also said: "The vision of a European-type ski experience where people can cover vast terrain, unique experiences at each end . . . is unprecedented in the United States. It’d be an attraction for the whole world."

    A Rock star

    Name: Bill Rock

    Age: 49

    Family: wife Jennifer, 9-year-old twins Tyler and Paige

    Lives: in Sun Peak

    Been skiing for: 39 years

    Learned to ski at: Bristol Mountain in New York

    Skis: Head i.Supershape Titan, 170 centimeters

    Best secret powder stash at PCMR: "Yet to be determined for me. I’m hoping people share that with me."