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Millcreek Journal

From ski bum to industry leader, Solitude’s Kim Mayhew says goodbye after 40 years

Apr 26, 2021 11:57AM ● By Joshua Wood

Kim Mayhew will retire after 40 years in the Utah ski industry. (Photo by Brendan Ladd, courtesy of Solitude Mountain Resort)

By Joshua Wood | [email protected]

After 40 years in the local ski industry, Solitude Mountain Resort’s general manager, Kim Mayhew, is calling it a career. Mayhew has spent the past six seasons as one of the few female ski resort general managers in the country.

“I fell in love with the industry very early on,” Mayhew said. “My dad taught me to ski when I was 3.”

Mayhew went to school to be a dental hygienist, but decided she wanted to pursue a career doing something physically active, which she had done in college teaching skiing on the weekends. “So my husband and I quit our jobs in New Hampshire where we grew up in the spring of 1980,” Mayhew said. “We traveled all across the United States and Canada. We went to every ski resort you could possibly imagine, and when we got to Utah, we knew this was it.”

Mayhew taught skiing for two seasons from 1980 to 1982 at Sundance Mountain Resort and then moved to Deer Valley in the fall of 1982. She spent the next 33 years in a wide variety of jobs at Deer Valley, finishing her time there as the director of human resources.

When Deer Valley completed its purchase of Solitude in early 2015, Mayhew became its general manager. “Solitude is breathtaking,” she said. “Riding up the chairlift here is mesmerizing. I love the Rockies. The rugged feel.”

Mayhew estimates that there are about 10 or 12 female general managers among the 460 ski resorts in the United States. For her, it has been both interesting and rewarding. “I don’t get reminded of the gender piece very often, which is a good thing,” Mayhew said. “It certainly has had its challenges. Part of my job is being on a lot of boards, and I’m sitting around a table with all men, being the only gal.”

During her decades working in Utah’s ski industry, Mayhew has seen a lot change. She recalls Colorado being the big draw for East Coasters heading west to ski. Resorts like Vail and Aspen overshadowed Utah’s destinations. When she visited home in New Hampshire, people would ask Mayhew where, or even what, Utah was.

However, Mayhew already felt drawn to Utah. “In the late ’70s, my favorite publication was Ski Magazine,” she said. “They talked a bit about the Utah ski market. Snowbird was recently built in the winter of 1976, so they had not been around for a long time. They were publicized as one of the up and coming places, and of course Alta being the anchor of old timer’s skiing in Utah. I knew quite a bit about Utah. We never even considered Colorado.”

The 2002 Winter Olympics let countless others in on what Mayhew already knew about skiing in Utah. She has since been part of the resulting growth as Utah became the place to go for out of state skiers.

“Here at Solitude, we have seen growth, and this canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, supports two ski resorts,” Mayhew said. “If there’s growth in the state of Utah, people are coming here for the recreational opportunities, so there’s going to be growth in the number of folks that are utilizing the canyons.”

Mayhew has served as a leader in a variety of roles and has seen Solitude change a lot. A colleague noted her influence.

“During her time at Solitude, Kim oversaw three ownership changes and many significant projects, such as the replacement of the Summit chairlift,” said Sara Huey, communications manager at Solitude Mountain Resort. “Her heartfelt and consistent emphasis on employee well-being is a legacy that will last at Solitude long after her retirement.”

A lot of fond memories were created here in Utah, too. One that stood out for Mayhew involved her mom’s favorite movie star. “My mom was a fan of any movie that Robert Redford was in,” Mayhew said. “She knew that he had a ski resort in Utah, and when I told her I was working for Robert Redford, she just about panicked. I actually did have the opportunity to introduce her to him. That was kind of a highlight of my career.”