In February 1963, on what we now can only imagine was a typical Colorado bluebird powder day. Ski representatives from around the western ski states began discussing the need for regional organization to promote skiing in Colorado, New Mexico, and eventually Wyoming, in the face of east coast and European competition.
The discussions developed into a concrete plan of action on June 13, 1963, when Ski Country U.S.A., Inc. was born. As business increased and strategies changed, Colorado struck out on its own and Ski Country U.S.A., Inc. became Colorado Ski Country, U.S.A., Inc. (CSCUSA) in 1965.
The primary focus of the organization during its early years was to promote Colorado skiing worldwide. Steve Knowlton, CSCUSA's first executive director, was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic Ski Team and was well known in both the U.S. and Europe. CSCUSA took the "show on the road" and the first consumer ski show, as we know it, was born. Next, came a reception center at Stapleton Airport, consumer ski guides and snow reports.
While marketing ventures continued, stronger in some years than in others, it wasn't until 1973 when CSCUSA's focus turned toward the political arena addressing environmental and legislative issues. An emphasis on marketing returned in 1976, when several co-op marketing and public relations programs originated, many of which are still in place today.
Over the past three decades, Colorado's ski industry has continued to flourish as skier visits have increased from 800,000 to over 11 million. During this time, the organization has been piloted by Steve Knowlton, Todd Martin, Garry Mitchell, Bob Knous, John Lay, Doug Cogswell, John Frew, David Perry, Rob Perlman, and the current president Melanie Mills.
What began as a marketing venture has turned into a modern trade association with expertise in the departments of public policy, domestic and international marketing and communications. Currently, Colorado Ski Country USA represents 21 Colorado ski areas in those three functional areas.