By Jann Wiswall
Ron Kubicki, Holiday Valley’s Director of Snowsports, is retiring three days before he turns 67 in November.
“I don’t really know what I’ll do with retirement yet, but I do know I’ll be skiing without a radio next season, so I won’t be interrupted on the way down the hill!”
It’s been a long and successful career for Kubicki, who started working at age 12 at the old Glenwood Acres ski area.
“I was only interested in making money at that age. I had never skied before.”
But it didn’t take long before the skiing bug got him.
Over the years, he worked in various capacities at The Mountain, Kissing Bridge and Buffalo Ski Club as a groomer, lift mechanic, snowmaker and, soon, ski instructor.
Off season, he worked construction and was a truck driver, but his passion soon became teaching, and in 1989, he joined Holiday Valley as supervisor of the ski school.
In 2000, he almost resigned. He had purchased his own truck and was going to drive full time. But then the snowsports director position became available and he was encouraged to apply.
He sold that truck.
For the past 15 years, Kubicki has focused on improving the ski school experience for instructors and students alike.
He hired great people who love teaching as much as he does.
He made some staffing policy changes that made it easier to retain instructors and reduce attrition.
He focused on families and attracting kids to the sport by creating new programs and working through schools and clubs to offer group events, field trips and other economical ways to enjoy the sport.
He served on the board of the Eastern Division of the Professional Ski Instructors Association-American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-E/AASI) as secretary, vice president, president and, currently, immediate past president. In this capacity, he represented some 10,000 members and helped negotiate a new affiliation agreement with the national PSIA-AASI.
And personally, he taught generations of families to ski and snowboard.
Dennis Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley’s president, said that “Ron has been part of many successes,” at the resort. “The results have made our snowsports program better for the customers, the staff and for Holiday Valley.”
Given that the resort consistently ranks in Ski Magazine’s top ten for family services, Kubicki’s impact is measurable.
Kubicki notes that during each season he supervised some 250 instructors who have thousands of interactions every day with Holiday Valley’s guests.
“Being accountable for all of their actions is a huge responsibility,” he says.
“He was rock solid and consistent in his leadership,” Eshbaugh added, “and he always appreciated every individual team member for producing a great lesson or a special experience.”
Kubicki’s advice for his successor is to “be an advocate for your staff.”
His parting advice for all skiers and snowboarders?
“Take lessons! You can always get better!”
Eshbaugh adds: “We extend our admiration and appreciation of his leadership. I thank Ron for his service, and wish him the very best in the years ahead.”