Editorial: Leadership change at Deer Valley marks end of a chapter in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Editorial: Leadership change at Deer Valley marks end of a chapter in Park City

An era at Deer Valley Resort, and in Park City, will come to a close in January.

The resort announced on Thursday that Bob Wheaton, its president and chief operating officer, will step down this winter after three decades at Deer Valley's helm. While many speculated that Wheaton's departure would come sooner rather than later as the resort enters a new period following its acquisition by Alterra Mountain Company last summer, the significance of the move is nonetheless difficult to overstate.

Wheaton, who will step into a new role as a senior adviser to Alterra, is a central figure in Park City's modern chapter. Deer Valley during his tenure, which began in 1988, grew into one of the finest ski resorts in the world, and the resort's success was inextricably linked to that of the town itself. As Deer Valley flourished, Park City through the 1990s and Olympic era morphed into the renowned mountain destination it is today.

Through all the prosperity, Wheaton seemed to understand the importance of Deer Valley's connection to the community. A focus on being a team player has been a defining trait of the resort's relationship to the Park City area under his stewardship, and it will be a major part of the legacy he leaves behind.

As he departs, many wonder whether that philosophy will continue to be such an integral part of the resort's DNA. Denver-based Alterra has sought over the last year to assuage Parkites' concerns that a shift from those principles is on the horizon, but skeptics will remain unconvinced until the company has ample time to make good on its promise.

Regardless of how Deer Valley evolves without Wheaton, his exit caps a period that has ushered in monumental change in the local ski industry, beginning with Vail Resorts' acquisition of Park City Mountain Resort in 2014.

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After the sale of Deer Valley, Wheaton, with a steadying presence honed over 30 years, stood as the last vestige of the old guard.

Following his exit, and the reshaping of Park City's ski industry, people will continue to flock by the thousands for ski vacations. Our status as an iconic winter destination remains secure. For Parkites, though, things will never be quite the same.

A new era in our history began when PCMR changed hands. Four years later, the ink on the previous chapter is at last dry as one of its central figures moves on.