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Ragged’s Gamble Not the Retiring Type Yet

  • A diorama of Ragged Mountain in Danbury, N.H., on Thursday, Dec.6,2018. Jay Gamble, the new General Manager said the golf course below the parking area has closed and the land being re-purposed.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Brewer Daley, a senior at Proctor Academy in Andover,N.H., practices with the school's Freestyle ski team at Ragged Mountain ski area in Danbury, N.H., on Thursday, Dec.6,2018.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Skiers on the main chair lift at Ragged Mountain ski area in Danbury, N.H., on Thursday, Dec.6,2018.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jay Gamble stands on a deck on the base lodge overlooking the main chair lift at Ragged Mountain in Danbury, N.H., on Thursday, Dec.6,2018. Gamble, who was the General Manager at Mount Sunapee for 20 years,has moved to Ragged Mountain in Danbury to do the same.(Valley News - Rick Russell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2018

Danbury, n.h. — Jay Gamble had a decision to make.

At age 65, the Sunapee resident and longtime general manager at the Mount Sunapee Ski Area had retirement on his mind. He also felt like he had more to give an industry that’s been all he’s known professionally since his college days, and he wasn’t quite ready to hang up his skis just yet.

Then, an opportunity opened up at neighboring Ragged Mountain, a mere 40 minutes away from home. A way to continue working in the New England skiing industry without having to relocate made too much sense to pass it up.

“In growing up on a farm, heck, I’ve never really been unemployed, and a dairy farm at that. Somewhere since age 12, I’ve worked all my career,” Gamble said with a smile during an interview in his Ragged Mountain offices on Thursday. “After my 20 years at Mount Sunapee, I kind of had to make a decision. Am I really ready to retire? I decided I was too young to retire, but I realized I wasn’t young enough to be considered a spring chicken in the employment world.

“So when the Ragged opportunity opened up … I said to myself, ‘It’s an easy, simple commute. I know the market, I know Ragged, let me see if they’d have interest.’ ”

Ragged Mountain, which is owned and operated by the Salt Lake City-based Pacific Group Resorts Inc., first opened in 1965 and features 244 acres of skiable terrain with three terrain parks, 10 tubing lanes and a learn-to-slide beginner park. It previously was managed by Ryan Schramm, who recently was named general manager at Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Colorado, another Pacific Group property.

“Jay is a great find for us,” said Vern Greco, CEO of Pacific Group Resorts in a news release. “Ragged Mountain has developed solid momentum under Ryan Schramm’s leadership. Now we need a strong leader with lots of industry experience to maintain and build upon that momentum. Jay is the ideal fit for Ragged Mountain as we assimilate the excellent growth we have had there over the past three years.”

Gamble, who began working in the ski industry in 1981, served as the general manager at Mount Sunapee for 20 years after the property was leased to former Okemo Mountain owners Tim and Dianne Mueller from the state in 1998, and he served on Ski New Hampshire’s board of directors during that span. He brings 37 years of industry experience to the new gig, with stops working at Killington in Vermont, Sunday River in Maine and the ski lift manufacturing company Poma of America prior to his time at Sunapee. Gamble grew up in South Carolina, graduated from Clemson University in 1977 and has been in love with ski resorts ever since his childhood.

“The people — they’re active-lifestyle, energetic, athletic, passionate people,” Gamble said of his love for the ski industry. “We share a similar passion — outdoor sports, trying to stay in shape to do a sport like this and enjoy it. But also, skiing is unique in that no one is a spectator. … In skiing, everyone is a participant.

“Skiing has an amazing ability where your kids might think you’re, well, a parent and you don’t know anything,” he added. “Until you go skiing with them. If your skills are good, then you’re fun with your kids. They enjoy it. It’s a tremendous family sport.”

Vail Resorts completed its purchase of Triple Peaks LLC, the company owned by the Muellers that included Okemo, Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte in Colorado, in September. Bruce Schmidt, the former Okemo general manager, was transferred to Mount Sunapee as part of several management changes resulting from the acquisition. 

Gamble said he was proud of all the work he and his team were able to accomplish over his 20-year tenure at Mount Sunapee. The Muellers invested $22 million into Sunapee during that stretch, efforts that included three new buildings, four new chairlifts and improved snowmaking, Gamble said. 

“The improvements, both in the physical assets but as well as the people, guest services, put Mount Sunapee on the map,” Gamble said. “Tim and Diane were very hands-on owners that fully engaged their senior leadership team. … That’s the same type of management I’d like to bring to Ragged.

“In 20 years … we built a lot of stuff. But quite honestly, my most enduring memories of Mount Sunapee are the people,” he added. “I enjoyed a tremendously capable group of people that I worked with.”

Ragged recently invested in a new system for scanning lift tickets, part of Pacific Group’s $20 million improvements since purchasing the property in 2007. It also features a robust wedding business during the summer months and, Gamble said, it has plans to continue to improve ski making efforts.

An opportunity at Ragged seemed like the perfect next step, allowing Gamble to continue his work in New England’s ski industry without having to relocate.

“I think it’s the commonality (that makes these two jobs similar),” Gamble said between his duties at Sunapee and Ragged. “In both cases, it’s continuing to build on the foundations that were already here, continuing to build trust and improvements.

“Ragged has already begun its upswing.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.