Prior PCMR president to join ski hall of fame
Phil Jones, who helped guide Park City Mountain Resort from a small local ski hill into a world-renowned ski area, will be inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Utah Olympic Park on Sept. 26.
"A lifetime of skiing accomplishments and contributions of Phil Jones is enshrined in a ski run atop Park City Mountain Resort named Jonesy’s," says the plaque that will be unveiled Wednesday. "It serves as a lasting tribute to Phil’s 33 years of dedicated employment at the resort, including 16 years as president and general manager during its most expansive years."
A native of Twin Falls, Idaho, Jones grew up skiing and racing on nearby Magic Mountain, a ski area owned and operated by his father, Claude F. Jones. He arrived in Park City in 1964 to teach skiing at Treasure Mountains, a ski resort opened the previous year by United Park City Mines. At the time the resort had a gondola, one chairlift, a rope tow and a beginner J-bar.
In 1965, Jones traveled to Austria as part of an elite team of American ski instructors. His ability as a teacher was recognized by the North American Ski Instructors Congress, which named him "Ski Instructor of the Year" in 1971. By then he had been named director of the ski school at the ski area, then known as Park City Resort.
"Phil’s path into the ski industry was through ski teaching and he was very, very good at that," said Bob Wheaton, Deer Valley president and general manager.
In 1974, when Park City Resort’s general manager, Woody Anderson, resigned to buy and operate his own ski area near Burley, Idaho, he recommended Jones to replace him. Jones quickly moved up to vice president of mountain operations and then president and general manager.
Mark Menlove, the resort’s communications director from 1987 to 1995, said Jones’s management style reflected his years spent on the mountain. "He had a huge impact on the resort’s management in terms of approaching everything from a skier’s point of view." Menlove said Jones was on skis almost every day.
"To be honest, I think he probably enjoyed driving a snow cat more than he did making the financial decisions."
Former co-workers say they could always spot him on the mountain by his elegant skiing style, and by the fact that he never wore a hat, regardless of the weather.
When the resort earned the right to host World Cup races beginning in 1985, Jones led the team that handled the on-mountain logistics. "The implementation of it was definitely Phil’s but not just Phil’s," Menlove said. "He was very much involved in the on-snow component."
In his tenure, Jones saw the resort go through three ownership changes and three name changes. Treasure Mountains became Park City Resort in 1971 following its purchase by Edgar Stern and Royal Street Land Co. It was renamed Park City Ski Area shortly after its sale to Nick Badami and Alpine Meadows Inc. in 1975. In 1997, four years after the resort’s purchase by John Cumming and Powdr Corp., the name was changed to Park City Mountain Resort to reflect its growing role as a year-round destination playground.
Jenny Smith, now president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort, worked with Jones for 17 years beginning in 1980 when she was a ticket checker.
"I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Phil," Smith said. "I learned a lot about the business from Phil and from Nick (Badami)."
Smith said Jones made the employees feel as if they were part of a family.
"He ran a pretty tight ship, but we were able to have fun."
Menlove said Jones had a great relationship with ski area general managers throughout the country. According to the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame he served as president of the Utah Ski Association and vice chairman of the National Ski Areas Association.
When Jones left the resort in 1997, it had 13 chairlifts including three six-passenger high-speed chairs and more than $12 million in snowmaking equipment.
Jones points to the installation of the resort’s first serious snowmaking system following the infamous dry winter of 1976-77 as one of his proudest moments.
"The snowmaking system prior to that was very primitive," he said. "The following year we told all of our executives there would be no raises and no bonuses. We took most of our marketing budget and spent it on snowmaking and basically saved the resort and the town."
In 1998, he accepted the position of general manager with Snow Valley Mountain Resort in California. He worked there until serious back problems forced him to retire about 2004.
Today, three surgeries later, Jones is back doing what he loves skiing.
"Park City’s ski run named Jonesy’s will always serve notice of Phil Jones’s contributions to skiing," says the new plaque at the Utah Olympic Park.
Some of the information for this story comes from "Park City: Mountain of Treasure," by Larry Warren.
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