The Storm Skiing Journal and Podcast
The Storm Skiing Journal and Podcast
Podcast #39: Granite Peak, Wisconsin GM & Marketing Director Greg Fisher

Podcast #39: Granite Peak, Wisconsin GM & Marketing Director Greg Fisher


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Greg Fisher, General Manager and Marketing Director of Granite Peak, Wisconsin

Recorded on

Feb. 22, 2021

Granite Peak sprawls across a ridge on 700 vertical feet. All photos courtesy of Granite Peak.

Why I interviewed him

Because in the ski snob chain of dismissiveness, the West looks down on the East, the East looks down on the Midwest, and the Midwest ignores them all. They’re too busy skiing. The Upper Midwest is home to one of the most well-defined, ingrained, and passionate ski cultures in the world. The sheer volume and variety of ski areas in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota is a testament to this, and among them are some of the most unique ski areas in the country. Mount Bohemia, perched at the top of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, delivers one of the wildest ungroomed lift-served ski experiences in the nation. Minnesota’s Lutsen is big, cold, and endless, with the region’s only gondola – which connects two peaks and rises all of 308 vertical feet. And while the Midwest is dotted with 200-foot bumps with nine chairlifts and an impossible anthill of frenetic youngsters, Granite Peak is not one of them. It has 700 vertical feet of terrain set on a broad ridge and served by three high-speed lifts that barrel up the mountain. And it’s not done growing yet. To learn more about this regional gem and see where it may be headed next, I wanted to talk to the person in charge of it all.

Fisher, masked up and out in the snow.

What we talked about

Mount Snow in the ASC and early Peak Resorts days; bringing $17 St. Patty’s Day lift tickets to the Northeast; beer fixes everything; Ohio skiing; Midwest night-skiing culture; opening the bar and the slopes until well after midnight for college students; North Conway is the Northeast’s best ski town; the Peak Pass lands and it was kind of a big deal; how the pass fared against the Epic and Ikon passes; the brilliance of the Drifter Pass, the now-defunct Peak Resorts pass for broke-ass twentysomethings; reaction to Vail buying Peak in 2019; moving back to the Midwest to take the top job at Granite Peak; the ski area’s supercharged lift and snowmaking infrastructure; Charles Skinner, the owner of the largest ski areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and his track record of building Midwest monsters; the rabid Upper Midwest ski culture; Granite Peak’s 7-year-old snow reporter; the skibum life of a general manager’s son; what’s up with all the reindeer?; the vision and status of Granite Peak’s expansion; MTB trail development; why a gondola would make sense on a 700-vertical-foot hill; why the glades from Granite Peak’s old trailmaps disappeared from their current one; future night skiing expansion; an update on the Indy Pass partnership and how the pass is growing aggressively in the Midwest; base lodge modifications; Midwest boot-up culture; and Covid ops modifications that may stick around after the virus fades.

Airing it out at Granite Peak.

Why I thought that now was a good time for this interview

Because Fisher is in his first year as head of the ski area, guiding it through Covid and setting it up for what should be a booming future. The resort’s expansion plans appear to be gaining momentum after a previous effort dead-ended. This ambitious project would further anchor Granite Peak as a flagship Midwest destination, a ski area that can legitimately eat several days of skiing and substitute for a trip to the Rockies. The ski area is also wrapping up its first year as an Indy Pass partner, a huge win for the pass and one that helped establish it as the Midwest’s go-to ski frequency product. This was a good time to confirm that that partnership would continue, discuss expansion, and look toward the end of pandemic skiing and start to imagine what that could look like.

The oldest chairlift at Granite Peak was installed in 2001.

Why you should go there

If you only hit one ski area in Wisconsin, this should be the one. Among the forest of kinda small and kinda underwhelming and kinda outdated hills poking out of the state’s countryside, Granite Peak soars, big and modern and fast, flush with glades and the kind of interesting and varied terrain alien to so many Midwest hills. While 700 vertical feet is small in most regions, it is titanic in the Midwest. After Granite Peak, the next largest vertical drop in the state is Mount La Crosse, at 516 feet. Vail’s Wilmot is just 230 feet. The ski area is one of five in Wisconsin on the Indy Pass, making it a no-brainer stop on an upper Midwest ski tour. Along with sister ski area Lutsen, in neighboring Minnesota, this is one of the finest ski areas in the region, and with three high-speed lifts – all of them less than 20 years old - accessing 100 percent of its terrain, the resort is one of the most well-appointed in the nation.

Additional reading/videos

COVID-19 & Skiing Podcasts: Author and Industry Veteran Chris Diamond | Boyne Resorts CEO Stephen Kircher | Magic Mountain President Geoff Hatheway | NSAA CEO Kelly Pawlak | Berkshire East/Catamount Owner & Goggles for Docs founder Jon Schaefer | Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis Cofounder Jeff Thompson | Doppelmayr USA President Katharina Schmitz | Mt. Baldy GM Robby Ellingson | Alterra CEO Rusty Gregory | NSAA Director of Risk & Regulatory Affairs Dave Byrd | Schweitzer Mountain President and CEO Tom Chasse | Ski Vermont President Molly Mahar |

The Storm Skiing Podcasts: Killington & Pico GM Mike Solimano | Plattekill owners Danielle and Laszlo Vajtay | New England Lost Ski Areas Project Founder Jeremy Davis | Magic Mountain President Geoff Hatheway | Lift Blog Founder Peter Landsman | Boyne Resorts CEO Stephen Kircher | Burke Mountain GM Kevin Mack | Liftopia CEO Evan Reece | Berkshire East & Catamount Owner & GM Jon Schaefer | Vermont Ski + Ride and Vermont Sports Co-Publisher & Editor Lisa Lynn | Sugarbush President & COO Win Smith | Loon President & GM Jay Scambio | Sunday River President & GM Dana Bullen | Big Snow & Mountain Creek VP of Sales & Marketing Hugh Reynolds | Mad River Glen GM Matt Lillard | Indy Pass Founder Doug Fish | National Brotherhood of Skiers President Henri Rivers | Winter 4 Kids & National Winter Activity Center President & CEO Schone Malliet | Vail Veterans Program President & Founder Cheryl Jensen | Mountain Gazette Owner & Editor Mike Rogge | Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows President & CMO Ron Cohen | Aspiring Olympian Benjamin Alexander | Sugarloaf GM Karl Strand – Parts One & Two| Cannon GM John DeVivo | Fairbank Group Chairman Brian Fairbank | Jay Peak GM Steve Wright | Sugarbush President & GM John Hammond | Mount Snow GM Tracy Bartels | Saddleback CEO & GM Andy Shepard | Bousquet Owners & Management | Hermitage Club GM Bill Benneyan | Powder Magazine Editor-in-Chief Sierra Shafer | Gunstock GM Tom Day | Bolton Valley President Lindsay DesLauriers | Windham President Chip Seamans | Sunday River GM Brian Heon | Waterville Valley President & GM Tim Smith |