The old adage “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life” has been quipped by everyone from Confucius to Mark Twain over the years. It’s a statement more about enjoying what you do than anything else.
Local Doug Morrison is the perfect example of that, as he recently retired after 26 seasons with Telski’s Ski & Snowboard School.
He was presented with the Career Service and Achievement Award, which was for “a lifetime of service to the ski industry, and 26 years of excellence and innovation to the Telluride Ski Resort.”
“Your positive impact on countless employees, guests, and Ski & Snowboard School processes will long be remembered. It is with a heart-felt thank you that we wish you the best of luck in the next chapter of your life,” the proclamation read.
School director Noah Sheedy praised Morrison for his leadership, and friendship, over the years, something that won’t soon be forgotten.
“Speaking personally, Doug has been a mentor of mine since starting my management career in Telluride 14 years ago,” Sheedy said. “Doug has a keen eye for industry and guest trends and has helped modernize the Telluride Ski & Snowboard School into what it is today. Doug's impact on the Telluride Ski Resort will be felt long after his retirement.”
Morrison’s skiing journey started in 1970, when he was a senior in high school and became an instructor at Mt. Hood’s Timberline on the weekends. After a semester at Boulder’s Colorado University, he went to work for Breckenridge for a season, before landing with Vail. It was there that he became fully certified. He was promoted to a supervisor role in 1978 and was tapped a Professional Ski Instructors of America examiner a year later. He worked with the organization in various roles until 2011. Morrison also spent 22 seasons at Vail prior to accepting a position with Telski.
“Everyone always says, ‘Man, you’ve been here forever,’ and I tell them I was some place else forever, too,” he said, adding that he’d only been here to ski twice before moving to Ridgway. “ … I have to be honest, coming from Vail, it was a little rough to start with over here, but the development came pretty fast. By the time we got into the early 2000s, the gondola was in place by then, and then all of a sudden the Prospect Creek development went it.
“The skiing just got better and better and better because the access to the hill just got better and better and better. The ski school itself was growing fast. People were coming to Telluride and discovering it. Word of mouth was really powerful as a marketing tool. We used those opportunities to modify our systems, to modify our products.”
Hearing Morrison talk about his time in the industry, particularly his two-plus decades with Telski, is inspiring. It wasn’t “work” as much as it was an opportunity to spread the love of skiing, while doing it alongside people who shared that passion, which is something that was reflected in the school’s reputation as one of the best around.
“If I don’t say that I loved the skiing … I just love the skiing here, whether it was low snow or average snow or great snow it didn’t matter. This is just a phenomenal hill,” he said. “The other thing was since I love skiing I hired supervisors who loved skiing, too. We got some nice skiing in every single day we were here.
“We always kid each other and say, ‘Let’s go ride the lift together and laugh a bit.’ It’s kind of what we do. We ride the lift and laugh, ski down, and then we’d get on the lift and laugh. It was always such a comfortable place to come to work.”
He named Sheedy, Frank Martinez, Rich Grimes, Vicki Renda and Lindsey Mersereau as coworkers who became fast friends over the years, adding that he still keeps in touch with friends he made at Breckenridge and Vail as well.
When asked what he’ll remember most about his time with Telski, he paused.
“Oh, boy,” he said with a laugh. “Wow. Yeah, I might have to reflect for a while longer for that to really hit.”
One thing he didn’t hesitate about was looking forward to spend more time with his girlfriend Cindy Smith, who introduced him to golf.
“I kind of took up golf because I met her. I was thinking if I ever want to see her, I better start playing golf,” he said, before admitting, “I play pretty mediocre golf, so I’d like to get better at that.”
Other than taking a couple strokes off his golf game, Morrison also plays guitar frequently and races cars. As the proud owner of a 1970 Porsche and open-wheeled Formula Volkswagen, Morrison is looking forward to honing his driving skills. Racing primarily on the Front Range during the summer, he’s preparing for a mid-May race. As a parting gift, his Telski friends presented Morrison a gift certificate for a four-day course at the Radford Racing School, formerly known as the Bondurant High Performance Driving School, in Phoenix. He’s excited to go down there at the beginning of next month. But he’s also excited to not to do some things.
“People ask me every day, ‘Isn’t it bittersweet? Isn’t it this? Isn’t it that?’ I just kind of go, ‘No, it’s sweet. I can’t wait.’ I said all of these things that were so great about coming to work, but I also can’t wait to not go to work. I can’t wait to not have an alarm clock go off or shave every day. I’m not planning to be a slob or anything, but you get these hobbies going and it feels like if you’re working all the time you don’t get to eke out all the satisfaction you might be able to,” he said.
Of course, “When winter comes around again, I’ll go skiing every day for a few hours.”