Chris Diamond - Resort exec, award-winning author
Chris Diamond, who led Mount Snow and Steamboat through seminal moments in the resort business and earned the industry’s highest honor, died Jan. 12, 2023, of pancreatic cancer. He was 76 years old.
“What really set Chris apart was his down-to-earth demeanor,” recalls Rob Perlman, who was mentored by Diamond and succeeded him as Steamboat’s president and COO. “He could easily wine and dine billionaire hedge funders, and then get dirty in the trenches with resort staff.”
Chris grew up in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and attended Middlebury College on scholarship. Graduating with an ROTC commission, he served in Vietnam as a first lieutenant and platoon leader, winning the Bronze Star. In 1972, he wound up at Killington Ski Area, where he assisted resort and S-K-I Ltd. founder Preston Leete Smith and learned from legendary marketer Foster Chandler. Killington was setting the pace in everything from snowmaking to recruiting new skiers, and Diamond was a quick learner. When S-K-I bought Mount Snow in 1977, Chris became general manager. He continued his career as president and chief operating officer of the Steamboat Ski Corporation from 1996 until 2015.
In retirement, Diamond consulted with resorts ranging from Sun Valley to the Middlebury Snow Bowl. Armed with a masters in English, he enjoyed wider acclaim for authoring two award-winning books, Ski Inc. and Ski Inc. 2020. The first chronicled his 40-plus years in the resort business, where he had a front row seat for the climbs and then crashes of early conglomerates American Skiing Company and Intrawest. The second book analyzed the unprecedented industry transformation brought on by the Epic, Ikon and other multi-resort season passes.
Chris was a past director and chairman of Colorado Ski Country USA and NSAA, which honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. He was inducted into the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame in 2017. An avid sailor and cyclist, Chris lived in Steamboat Springs. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Eileen; two grown children, Keenen and Elizabeth; and two grandchildren. –Andy Bigford