Midwest Visionary

Fall Line

In 1947, Everett Kircher, a Detroit Studebaker dealer, paid $1 for 40 acres in Northern Michigan on which to build his dream: a thriving ski resort in America’s heartland. Residents chuckled, but Kircher’s vision has grown into the largest privately owned ski and golf company in America, including Michigan’s Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, Big Sky, Mont., Brighton, Utah, and Crystal Mountain, Wash. Kircher was a born engineer and showman, creating “firsts” the skiing public found irresistible: America’s first freestyle exhibition (1961, Boyne Mountain); the world’s first triple chair (1964, Boyne Highlands); the world’s first quad (1969, Boyne Mountain); Michigan’s first high-speed quad (1990, Boyne Highlands); and America’s first six-pack lift (1992, Boyne Mountain). Kircher also pioneered snowmaking and grooming equipment, building a ski empire where few thought possible. “I fell in love with a snowflake, and winter became my favorite season and skiing my favorite sport,” Kircher explained. Kircher even persuaded Norwegian ski-legend Stein Eriksen to move to Michigan¿of all places¿to direct the Boyne Ski School in the Fifties. “Everett was years ahead of everyone when it came to developing and operating a ski resort,” Eriksen says. Kircher died in January at 85. He never tired of learning. “Whenever I spotted a good skier, I’d talk to him, asking him how he made a particular turn or maneuver,” he said.