Ski Area Owner
From Childhood Playground to Unexpected Career: How Becky Maddox Brought a Mountain Back to Life
Snowy Range Ski Area
Becky Maddox grew up flying down the slopes of the Snowy Range Ski Area near Laramie. The mountain was a two-plank paradise in Southeastern Wyoming where her family and so many others could go for an uncomplicated day of skiing without having to contend with the crowds and traffic that can come with the major resorts of the West.
Years later and with a family of her own, her dad told her the ski area might not open the next season. “I just looked at my husband on the way home, and said, well, let’s look at it,” Becky said. “Let’s see what we can do.”
At the time Becky was a schoolteacher, and her husband, Aaron, was a banker. They put their heads together and came up with a plan. After some number crunching, careful planning and not a little bit of courage, they were suddenly ski area owners on top of their fulltime careers in education and finance.
So, first things first: They needed to learn how to operate a groomer. And make snow. And fry burgers. And do about a hundred other jobs that would make the ski area tick.
“During the snowmaking process, we worked 24-hours a day quite a bit,” Aaron said of the beginning of their endeavor. “But I think the longest was 42 hours straight.” Becky says you just have to roll with whatever comes your way, but “it’s really gratifying. By the end of the day, everybody has had a really amazing day skiing, and they walk away happy.”
Surprisingly, she’s found more in common with her career running a classroom and running a ski area than she expected. As a teacher, she was constantly working to help her students learn in ways that worked for them. Some methods worked for some students, and different methods worked for others. It was all about “knowing what their abilities are, and what modifications or strategies you need to put in place so that they can learn the best.” Now she works with Snowy Range employees to figure out how they might be most fulfilled, and how they can do their best work.
For Becky and Aaron, it’s all worth it for the chance to take on a less traditional career, to be their own bosses, to cultivate a piece of their community, and to be able to “raise our kids in this really cool way where they’re in this environment all the time,” she says.
So, what advice do they have for anyone who wants to take a chance on a new career? “Work really, really hard. Think on your feet. And never turn down a job because you don’t think you can do it.” You might just end up surprising yourself.
Towering mountains. Rushing rivers. Welcoming communities.