The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 51

don't even know how to boil water. " Dave answered, " Well, I don't either. But Toni, you're good with people. You can remember
all their names. " For the next twenty years, Milici ran Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Food Services,
a restaurant business serving thousands of skiers each weekend.
In this ever-evolving, family-like environment, the ski area expanded. Each morning, junior racers
worked in the lobby using metal wires and pliers to laboriously attach lift tickets to customers' ski pants,
while their mothers and wives of employees helped Nick Gunter in the ticket booth. On weekends, elementary
school teacher, Tom (TJ) Johnston, buzzed around the office making snow reports, organizing
entries for Far West junior races, and on occasion, putting together a brochure. When ski instructor, Bobby
Cooper, took over the sport shop, Don Sharp, an accountant who had worked as a lift operator before
running the sport shop, moved downstairs to help Nick keep track of the cash flow, which was growing by
leaps and bounds.
Many employees considered their employment at Mammoth Mountain one of the best time periods
in their lives, a time of learning by practical experience. Why? According to Nick Gunter, " It certainly wasn't
for the money, because they didn't make anything. I think it was how Dave treated them. Employees were always first on his
mind. "
Whatever it was that created this sense of belonging, visiting skiers, especially those from Southern
California, also felt part of the Mammoth family. They organized ski trips like treasured rituals, looking
forward to the hours spent with friends and family while traveling in their packed cars, sharing dinner at
White's Café in Mojave, freezing fingers while putting on chains, and pulling into town in the wee cold
hours after midnight. Regardless of winter storm or bluebird day, they awakened to the winding Minaret
Road, the " cattle truck " shuttle bus, the luscious scent of Max Riegg's warm cinnamon rolls, and a " story of
the day " from Toni Milici. After stopping in the repair shop to be teased by Rhubarb Marcellin, they met
Ralph Batchelder's smiling face at the top of Chair 1 ramp and Downhill Dick's casted leg propped up in
the shack window at the top of Chair 3. Then, the fun of skiing huge rounded moguls on Upper Broadway
and over giant steps on Stump Alley, the balancing act on T-Bar 1, the adrenalin rush of flying off Hair
Jump, the pride of counting lots of holes punched in lift tickets, and most of all, the warm-hearted downhome
feeling of being part of a Mammoth day.
In the 1960s Dave McCoy's vision for a family-fun ski resort expanded as his personally trained
racers competed internationally and his children raced in the Olympics. With more than a half-century
of McCoy's leadership, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area eventually encompassed 27 lifts and a gondola,
lodgings, and amenities for skiers. An enthusiastic staff of dedicated mavericks ran ski lifts, ski patrol and
ski school each winter and built lifts each summer. Turning over the reins in 2005 at the age of 90, Dave
McCoy summed up his career. " It wasn't a job, it was a love affair. "
Dave McCoy was one of a kind, possibly the last of the self-made ski area pioneers. He passed away
at the age of 104 in early 2020. According to Robin Morning, he started " with little more than a strong work
ethic and a huge amount of enthusiasm, and built one of the largest and
the way, he inspired thousands of people with
skills,
and belief in the individual. "
n
Testing the Upper Gondola between Mid-Station
and the top before it opened in November, 1967.
About the Authors:
Whether co-directing a ski racing circuit, writing
and editing for ski town newspapers in Aspen, Colorado,
and Mammoth Lakes, California, doing research for
Leon Uris, or cashiering in a ski area restaurant, Diane
Eagle Kataoka has skied and lived in ski towns before,
during and after their metamorphoses into resorts. At
8,000 feet above sea level, in the land of fires and
earthquakes, she is writing a novel.
Robin Morning is the author of Tracks of
Passion (2008) and the recently published book
For the Love of It. She has received the FWSA Western
Ski Heritage Award three times and was the co-host of
the World Ski Congress in Mammoth in 2009.
photos courtsey of Dave McCoy's Collection
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 51
most popular ski areas in the world. Along
his positive attitude, leadership
Planning diagram from 1958 for expansion of
Mammoth Mountain ski area, three years after
opening. Mammoth had two chairlifts from
which trails for all skill levels could be accessed.

The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Index
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 3
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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