Wanaka ski identity Bridget Legnavsky is keen to hit the ground running as chief executive of the Sugar Bowl Resort in California.
September 30 was Mrs Legnavsky’s last day working for RealNZ as chief experience officer.
RealNZ is the parent company of Cardrona Alpine Resort, where Mrs Legnavsky worked for 30 years, starting as a ski instructor in 1993 and working her way up to general manager.
Mrs Legnavsky said she had enjoyed working with RealNZ tourism companies between Christchurch and Stewart Island but could not turn down the opportunity to progress her career.
She and husband Pete Legnavsky leave for the United States on October 15 and she starts her new job at Lake Tahoe, a three-hour drive from San Francisco, two days later.
‘‘I want to dive straight in,’’ she said.
‘‘Pete will be there to help . . . [He] will then return to New Zealand and pack up the kids.’’
The United States job heralds the end of lengthy family separations. Covid travel restrictions prevented her from joining her husband and their Olympian free skier son Gustav (16) last year at overseas competitions.
‘‘For the first time ever, I will be able to watch Gustav at Copper Mountain, Calgary and Mammoth; and he can come home to his own bed in between times.’’
The couple’s daughter, Zora (12), is a keen ski racer who also enjoys the performing arts. She is looking forward to joining the Sugar Bowl Academy and starting school in the US for the winter term.
The family will live in a manager’s house in the snowbound mountain ski village, just metres from a gondola and with a cross-country trail at their front door.
The Sugar Bowl Resort is owned by the resort home-owners.
‘‘A big part of the job is managing their homes,’’ Mrs Legnavsky.
‘‘Real estate and luxury homes are part of the village services. It is not like something we have in New Zealand.
‘‘I have a massive multimillion-dollar master plan to deliver on, including a new base area and gondola, and a new restaurant area.’’
The resort is on national forest land and is open to the public, but visitor numbers are managed so the resort remains sustainable and retains its values.
The skifield board is pursuing climate change action, such as electric charging stations and rail transport.
Mrs Legnavsky said Sugar Bowl had a similar vibe to Wanaka — ‘‘[it’s] full of incredibly fit, outdoorsy people; a big community of ski touring and back country people.
‘‘And I love that it has nailed schooling. It has a day and boarding school for ski racers and park and pipe riders.
‘‘[Queenstown ski racer] Alice Robinson went there for a few years . . . I find [the schools] quite fascinating because it is a big picture we haven’t got nailed in New Zealand.’’
Mr Legnavsky intends to return to Wanaka for New Zealand winters to continue his job as Cardrona’s pipe and park and freeride programme manager.