After 18 years as general manager of Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park, Brad McQuarrie is retiring from the resort to pursue other opportunities and spend more time with family.
McQuarrie and his wife, Brenda, who is also stepping down as guest services manager of the resort, felt it was time to begin a new chapter. Their four children have all graduated from Mt. Spokane High School, and the resort has been experiencing record ski visits.
“It seemed like a great time to go find a new challenge and new adventure,” McQuarrie said. “I didn’t know at the time when I announced we were leaving that COVID-19 would happen, but it’s a pretty good transition time.”
The couple have sold their house in Spokane and plan to live on a fishing boat for a while “until something else comes up,” McQuarrie said. He added that they would consider returning to Spokane if an opportunity presented itself.
McQuarrie will be succeeded by Jim van Loben Sels, effective Monday. Van Loben Sels co-owns Arbor Crest Wine Cellars with his wife, Kristina. The couple grew the business into a destination winery and developed the historic Cliff House into a community entertainment and event venue.
Van Loben Sels spent his youth skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and served more than a decade with the National Ski Patrol in Bear Valley, California. He’s been an active volunteer of Mt. Spokane’s National Ski Patrol Ski team since moving to Spokane in 1999.
“My unique life experiences have prepared me for this massive responsibility,” van Loben Sels said in a statement. “Twenty-one years in business management and a lifetime on the mountain has allowed me the opportunity to promote and operate Mt. Spokane, one of our community’s greatest assets. I feel incredibly fortunate and excited for Mt. Spokane’s future.”
The McQuarries will continue to help out at the resort through the fall.
McQuarrie, who was hired as general manager of Mt. Spokane in 2002, oversaw day-to-day operations and worked on several improvements at the resort, including a 279-acre expansion with seven new ski trails and a triple chairlift, which opened in 2018. Under McQuarrie’s leadership, the resort also rebuilt its Mountain Sports School, remodeled buildings and improved trails.
“Most people just hear about the expansion area, but I think there was a lot of really good things that happened at the mountain,” McQuarrie said. “In my career, we doubled the amount of people who can access the mountain, focused on accessibility, and made it a diverse and friendly atmosphere. I feel good about the culture we’ve been able to sustain.”
McQuarrie said the most difficult aspect of transitioning to a new chapter in life is that the ski season ended abruptly because of COVID-19-related shutdowns mandated by the state.
“I didn’t get to say goodbye to everybody and I apologize for that,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll catch up with people over the years and be able to thank them for their support.”
McQuarrie said there are several memorable moments in his career at the ski resort, but being a part of the culture, community and history of Mt. Spokane is one that stands out.
“Mt. Spokane is one of the oldest ski areas in the country and a community-owned asset that has spanned generations and will continue for generations to come,” he said. “I felt honored and privileged to be a small part of that history and legacy.
“I will miss the people, the camaraderie of staff, the volunteers and the guests – just seeing them on a powder day, and everybody is smiling and having fun. It’s a great business to be in – delivering smiles.”
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