Juneau, Alaska— Situated on Douglas Island, Eaglecrest is a pretty interesting ski area. Juneau’s municipal government owns and operates the Alaska ski area. The Eaglecrest Board oversees the mountain’s operations, which have begun to look towards the future. For years, the ski area has been a great spot for locals due to its ample powder, but it’s been a goal for a while now to make it a four-season destination.

Dave Scanlan, who was Eaglecrest’s General Manager for seven years, led the effort in 2022 to purchase a used gondola from Austria. With construction reportedly set to begin this summer, the Eaglecrest Board has decided to change leadership.

KTOO reports that the Eaglecrest Board asked for David Scanlan’s resignation during a meeting Wednesday night that discussed his performance as General Manager. Scanlan, who told the Juneau Empire that the move “came as a complete shock, agreed to this decision and voluntarily resigned. The Board can’t discuss personnel matters, so the reasons for the forced resignation are being kept under wraps. The resignation will become effective on June 3rd. Erin Lupro, who serves as the Director of Snowsports School, Rental, Retail & Repair, will be the interim General Manager.

Following the meeting, the Eaglecrest Board issued the following public statement:

“The Eaglecrest Board would like to thank Dave Scanlan for his service as General Manager, particularly his vision of Eaglecrest providing year-round recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

However, we have asked for and accepted his resignation and we will immediately begin the search for his replacement in order to prepare for a successful winter season and continue moving the gondola project forward.

Erin Lupro, the current Eaglecrest Director of Snowsports School, Rental, Retail & Repair, has been appointed as interim general manager until the board can make longer term organizational decisions.”

On Thursday morning, Dave Scanlan provided a statement to the Juneau Empire. While he does provide some reasoning behind the decision, it doesn’t seem like enough of a legitimate reason for the Board to make him resign:

“When I applied to take on the general manager position the board was looking for a hands-on working manager with the vision to expand into summer operations, and ensure the reliability of winter operations in the face of ongoing climate change and variable weather patterns. Over the last seven years I have dedicated my life to this mission and I believe I have accomplished exactly this.

The current board has a desire to find a more office-process, paper-oriented general manager to lead the mountain through this next period. It has been a complete honor to lead the great team at Eaglecrest and provide consistent operations for the passionate users of Eaglecrest...

My wife and I have fallen deeply in love with Juneau and Eaglecrest ski area, and I feel I feel this will be one way I can continue to show the community and the users that my dedication to Eaglecrest has not wavered.”

Scanlan is pondering his next move. He may end up assisting Eaglecrest with their snowmaking operations for the 2024-25 season, which Scanlan hopes will encourage season pass sales.

Local skiers and riders are currently mystified and trying to figure out why Dave, who is described as a hands-on leader, was canned. Here are two thoughtful comments that were posted on Juneau Empire’s Facebook post about the resignation:

  • “Dave was one of the hardest working managers that Eaglecrest ever had. If he wasn’t making snow to get the season started, he was shoveling snow from stairways, cleaning up trays in the cafeteria, even being a lifty when needed. He worked hard & brought a vision to the ski area that he hoped would help Eaglecrest remain viable in perpetuity. As a season passholder for decades, I have appreciated his work ethic, innovation and willingness to jump in where ever needed. I have no idea what has transpired but Eaglecrest will be challenged to find an equal.”
  • “I’m absolutely blown away. I think he’s been by far the most pro active, hardest working manager we’ve had in my 35+ years of Eaglecrest use. How many other general managers will step up and do literally ANY job that needs doing. Running groomer, plowing the parking lot, you name it. Here’s to you Dave! Eaglecrest is a better place than when you came. The snowmaking is greatly expanded, we’ve finally got some beer up there, and whether or not you agree with it, (im on the fence) a tram being constructed. Sad to see him go.”

While unconfirmed, the main theories at this point are that there was frustration over the handling of the gondola project, along with the ski area having a sizeable deficit. After it cost $3.1 million to purchase and transport a used gondola to Juneau, it was announced in December that the lift needed parts that would cost another $1.86 million. The project has also encountered delays, as it is now expected to open by the summer of 2026. With the departure of Scanlan, it’s unclear whether this is still the plan.

The ski area currently has a deficit of $415,000, which Scanlan blamed on warming winters, a worker crunch, and inflation. Scanlan recently asked for a $900k five-year loan from the city to finance a worker pay raise and the gondola project. According to KTOO, they only got a five-year loan worth $518k.

Ultimately, installing this gondola is vital to growing Eaglecrest. Some of their plans that were approved by the Eaglecrest Board include a summit lodge at the top terminal of the gondola, mountain biking trails, a snow tubing park, and a small parking expansion. Some of their long-term addition ideas include a mountain coaster, a ropes course, and an adventure maze. During the offseason, Juneau is a major cruising hub, so Eaglecrest is primed to become a cash cow if they can build up their infrastructure.

I’m curious to see what happens next. Alaska, which features incredible skiing terrain, lacks signature ski resorts except Alyeska. Eaglecrest has the potential to become a destination ski resort, but the next steps from the Eaglecrest Board are crucial to its trajectory.

Image/Video Credits: Eaglecrest Ski Area

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