On Top of the Mountain: Whaleback Heads Look to Continue Growth

  • Whaleback general manager Adam Kaufman adjusts a snow gun on the mountain in Enfield, N.H., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Kaufman joined Whaleback as the lift operations manager two months ago and was promoted as volunteer chief operating officer Robert West stepped back to a position as a UVSSF board member and former Mountain Manager Gerd Reiss became race director and mountain projects manager. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Amid changes to the management structure at Whaleback, ski school director Rebecca Reed, of Norwich, recently became assistant general manager in addition to her ski school position. Reed works with Violet Carroll, 6, of Hanover, during a lesson in Enfield, N.H., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rebecca Reed, Whaleback's assistant mountain manager, middle, teaches Emma Cudney, left, to run the cash register as Susan Furste, of Wellesly, Mass., right, waits to pay for a beverage in Enfield, N.H., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. Reed also runs the ski school on the mountain. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Whaleback general manager Adam Kaufman talks with lift operator Scott Ruth on top of the mountain in Enfield, Jan. 31, 2018. Kaufman was recently promoted from his position as lift operations manager. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Enfield — When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, Adam Kaufman and Rebecca Reed have shown a knack for spearheading growth. They’ll hope to continue doing so in newly defined roles at Whaleback Mountain.

Kaufman recently was named general manager and mountain manager at Whaleback, the nonprofit community ski area owned and operated by the Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation. Reed, who was named ski school director last year, was promoted to assistant GM.

Kaufman is the mountain’s first GM since Dick Harris stepped down three years ago amid health concerns. In the interim, Robert West had become volunteer chief operating officer, overseeing many of the day-to-day operations while the father of two balanced a full-time job as a quality assurance manager at an IT company.

The managerial shifts will help alleviate the responsibility load for West, who will remain on the UVSSF board, while allowing Kaufman and Reed to continue the impressive work they’ve shown since arriving.

Reed, of Norwich, has helped nearly double the participation of Whaleback’s children’s programs, including after-school lessons and camps, from about 350 to about 600.

Reed is a mother of four young children.

“We’ve added 60 kids from (Marion Cross School in) Norwich and 40 from the Ray School (in Hanover),” Reed said on Tuesday before leading a lesson. “We also added a program from (Lyme’s) Crossroads Academy. We hope, next season, it will grow even more. Increasing enrollment is important, because it goes along with our mission statement of providing affordable options for kids to get out in the snow.”

Reed also helped upgrade Whaleback’s customer service area to streamline lift ticket sales and better connect Whaleback staff with visitors.

Kaufman has his own experience facilitating growth, helping the University of Vermont alpine ski club program increase from about 20 members to 80 when he was its president from 2012-15 while he was an undergraduate at the school.

Kaufman, a Shelburne, Vt., native, went on to become ski school director at another nonprofit ski area, the National Winter Activity Center in northern New Jersey, before a stint as GM and ski school director at Keene, N.H.’s Granite Gorge Ski Area.

Kaufman arrived at Whaleback at the beginning of this season to become lift operations manager. Like Reed, he quickly extended his reach to assist other areas of the mountain.

“They both really showed to be highly capable of a multitude of duties in a short amount of time,” West said. “We’re very happy with the management structure now.”

Kaufman manned the bottom of Whaleback’s chairlift on Tuesday, radio transceiver in hand as he coordinated with head ski patrolman Dave Rancor and others while multiple school groups were present, including students from Canaan’s Cardigan Mountain School.

“I think this will be a good fit because I love little ski areas,” Kaufman said. “The community aspect, where everybody does a little bit of everything, is something that I really enjoy. It’ll be challenging to pick up on everything, but there is great support here for that.”

Part of that support network is Gerd Riess, who since 2015 has overseen many of the facility’s important projects and upgrades, including the acquisition of improved snowmaking equipment and the construction of a new pump house. He’ll continue to serve those duties as Whaleback’s mountain projects manager, especially in the summer, when ongoing maintenance is required on the hill.

“Overall, though, this will lessen the load for me,” Riess, 65, said. “If a part breaks, for example, that will now be Adam’s jurisdiction.”

Riess will also remain race director, in charge of prep work and timing for competitive events such as the Thursday Night Race League and upcoming meets such as this Sunday’s visit from the McBrine Division — featuring club programs from southern New England colleges such as the University of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Yale — and a U12/U14 USSA freestyle skiing event later this month.

Like Rancor, the ski patrolman, helping Whaleback remain well-utilized is what fuels Riess’ commitment.

“People like Gerd, Adam, Rebecca, they’re a wealth of skiing knowledge,” Rancor, of West Lebanon, said. “I think we’ll all work really well together, because we know why we’re here. Seeing the kids learning and growing, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why our heart is here at the mountain.”

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.