Mike Goar’s steady leadership helped ensure resort’s future
May 5, 2015
After eight years of maintaining a steady line through a bumpy course of ownership changes, Mike Goar, the Vice President and General Manager at Canyons Resort, is saying goodbye to his many Utah admirers and heading for Colorado. Earlier this year, Vail Resorts announced that Goar would be leaving Canyons to take on a new assignment as Chief Operating Officer of Keystone Resort in Summit County, Colorado.
In 2007, when Goar was hired by American Skiing Company to head up Canyons, there was an audible, town-wide sigh of relief. ASC was in a downward spiral and the future of the company’s last resort (literally and figuratively) was in jeopardy. But Goar, who had run Solitude for 18 years was known and respected throughout the ski industry and his presence was a calming influence amid the flurry of lawsuits among past, present and future owners.
Throughout the bitter disputes (evidenced by a trail of discarded names including ParkWest, Wolf Mountain and The Canyons), Goar walked a diplomatic tightrope, ensuring guests enjoyed a seamless experience regardless of the shifting property titles. And while local tongues wagged about the colorful cast of characters battling over the resort, Goar quietly maintained the mountain with its growing fan base of skiers, snowboarders and summer cyclists.
Interestingly, the year that Goar was hired, his future employer, Vail Resorts, was embroiled in an unsuccessful effort to buy Canyons from ASC. Talisker was the preferred suitor at the time and it would be another eight years before Vail was able to plant its flag on Canyons’ summit.
Even during the heated public debate over SkiLink, the controversial proposal to connect Canyons and Solitude over a strip of forest service-owned land, Goar kept his cool. A precursor to One Wasatch and Mountain Accord, SkiLink drew fire from both sides of the Wasatch range and Goar was on the front line. The project was eventually shelved but Goar still touts interconnecting Utah’s closely spaced, but as yet unconnected, Wasatch Front and Back ski resorts.
In the meantime, even as Talisker entered into an agreement with its old foe Vail to manage Canyons, Goar helped to orchestrate over $37 million in resort improvements including a realignment of the gondola, installation of the Orange Bubble chairlift, new terrain and a ribbon cutting for the long-awaited Canyons golf course.
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Perhaps Goar’s biggest challenge was to stand quietly on the sidelines as his boss, Talisker, and Park City Mountain Resort entered the ring to duke it out over ownership of Park City’s namesake resort. The dispute divided the town into rival camps and was an unavoidable hot-button topic of almost every conversation for at least a year. But Goar, the peacemaker, never uttered a word.
Goar is leaving as Vail begins to meld Canyons and PCMR into what is being touted as the biggest resort in the United States. When completed, the community will owe a deep debt of thanks to the man who held it all together during each resorts’ darkest days.