Avon resident Lori Shield learned to ski at Ski Sundown when she was growing up and now she's been hired as marketing director of the New Hartford slopes.
"I started skiing in seventh grade," said Shield, who went to the mountain often with the Avon Middle School ski club. "This place has a lot of memories for me."
She previously did private consulting and media planning work for the mountain from 2001 to 2008.
To say that fate brought her back to the ski industry would not be far off.
Ski Sundown's owner Bob Switzgable asked her if she was interested in applying for a marketing opening during a conversation they had while she was picking up lift tickets for her Gifts of Love's Fire & Ice Gala fundraiser this fall.
Shield left her post as development and marketing specialist at the Avon non-profit, where she's worked since 2011, soon after the gala.
Gifts of Love gave her the opportunity to continue non-profit work after a few years with Community Renewal Team in Hartford and to get back into marketing.
"I love Gifts of Love. They're doing such important work," Shield said, grateful of the support staff gave her in her decision to leave.
She may not be working for a non-profit now, but Shield said social services is important to Ski Sundown. The mountain hosts the annual Winter Special Olympics and many fundraisers for local organizations.
Shield started her new job toward the day before Thanksgiving. She said that coming back to Ski Sundown was "like coming back home."
As marketing director, she creates the marketing plan, evaluates program and product offerings and strives to get people to come to the mountain.
All 15 trails are currently open on the 625-foot mountain, which had many families come with visiting relatives during the holidays. People from 2 to as old as 90 ski on the mountain.
"I think this place is such a gem because we're teaching the area how to ski and snowboard," Shield said. "We like to say it's a sport for life."
Shield has worked in the media marketing, communications and consulting industries since 1985. Her career naturally progressed into doing marketing work for ski mountains and resorts after Northstar at Tahoe – a special projects client when she was associate media director at advertising company J. Walter Thompson – asked if she'd continue her media planning work.
When she had her first child, she said "I decided to strike of on my own so that I had a more flexible schedule." Since then, she has worked with ski destinations from California to New England like Booth Creek-owned Sierra-at-Tahoe and New Hampshire mountains like Loon, Waterville Valley and Mount Cranmore.
Skiing is a favorite past-time for her and she said it is a good way to spend time with family and friends. New England skiiers are known to be able handle any condition on the slopes, Shield said, and she enjoys the challenge of the sport.
"It's great exercise. I love the views," Shield said, noting that she enjoys being on the tops of mountains and enjoying nature.
Like the snugness of a ski boot clicking into the binding, the job was a good fit for Shield's recreational passion.
"Anytime you can combine vocation and avocation, you're really lucky," she said.
For more information on Ski Sundown and the mountain's upcoming events, you can call 1-860-379-SNOW or visit Ski Sundown's website at www.skisundown.com. Ski Sundown is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and holidays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. The mountain is located at 126 Ratlum Rd. in New Hartford.
Corrections: The article originally stated that Lori Shield has worked in media for more than a decade, which is technically accurate, but she's actually been in the field for more than two decades, since 1985. She also started her job at Ski Sundown the day before Thanksgiving, not late December as the article first stated. Shield was previously development and marketing specialist at Gifts of Love, not developing and marketing specialist as originally published. Finally, the last quote should say avocation, not advocation. The article was updated at 10 a.m. to reflect these corrections.