Talking Points

Ever wish you could ask the mayor about urban development, or a battalion chief about fighting the Waldo Canyon fire, or a Nobel Prize winner about the nature of reality? In our first-ever Interview Issue, we asked 18 of the city’s brightest, most outspoken leaders and personalities those questions, and many more. Turn the page to hear them speak out—in their own words.
January 2013

Nora Pykkonen photo

Nora Pykkonen

The woman who last year bought Echo Mountain on rope tows, passion buys, and the healing power of skiing. Interview by Chris Outcalt

So, you bought a ski mountain? 

Yeah, it’s been a challenge, but it’s going to be great. We have about 200 skiers training in the next few weeks—people coming from places like Montana, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Maine.  

How did it all happen? 

My kids and I were at a summer ski camp in Mount Hood, Oregon. After two days, my daughter wanted to stay longer. I went to the coach and said, “Can you work with the girls one day a month just to supplement training?” She said, “I’d love to but there’s no lane space.” I called Echo, because we were training here on Wednesday nights, and found out it was up for auction. 

Is there a lot of work that needs to be done on the mountain?

We had some big capital expenditures this year. We put in a rope tow: You can get from the bottom to our slalom lanes in a minute and 40 seconds, and then you can get to the top in three minutes. The chairlift was about eight minutes. Our rope tow will be 1,000 feet per minute. It’s faster than a high-speed quad. 

Have you ever thought: What the hell am I doing?

My husband thinks that all the time. But, honestly, I haven’t regretted it at all. It’s definitely a field of dreams—build it and they will come. There hasn’t been one day where I thought: God, this was stupid

So you plan on hanging on to this property for a while? 

I have people all the time ask me what my exit strategy is. I don’t have an exit strategy because this could be in my family for the next 30 years. I hope my kids will run this. This was definitely a passion buy. I’m not looking to flip this. I just want to make sure that everyone who is on the mountain has an amazing experience. 

Are you a skier? Where’d you grow up?

I grew up outside of Colorado Springs and I never skied. I rode horses. But my husband is a die-hard skier, and when I started dating him I started skiing. I was horrible. 

It’s a beautiful spot. 

Yeah. You know, my brother has brain cancer. Four times doctors have said he’s not going to live through the week. But the first time he left the house, he said to a friend of mine, “I want to go get a ski pass.” So he went and bought a ski pass. We went up to Vail and he was wild. He’s like, “I’m alive,” and just took off. 

You could see a difference right away?

Oh, my gosh, yeah. It really helped him rehabilitate. Just being up here and getting the fresh air, it just gives him so much energy. And that’s honestly when I was really like, “Wow, I love being up here."