2023-24 Season Letter from President

June 08, 2024

2023-24 Season Letter from President

Hello Teacup / Mt. Hood Nordic Community!

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful start to summer.  And that you are remembering fondly this past year’s amazing (albeit late-to-start) ski season!  I’m excited and thankful for the progress and support realized across our 45th year.  The nonprofit continued to grow its impact, strengthen its fiscal health and build on efforts to be a more welcoming community.  We are ending the season with the state of our nonprofit being strong.  And I’m excited to keep you updated and share highlights!

But first, let me note how Board, staff and volunteer efforts combine with your financial support to make possible our service to the public.  It’s a special recipe that translates to making Mt. Hood a place for:

  • Affordable, accessible outdoor recreation,
  • Positive youth sport experiences, and
  • A healthy, family-friendly fun / lifestyle.

Our work towards these goals will continue next year; however, leadership will be changing towards a shared leadership model.  New board members will be stepping up to take responsibility of the nonprofit, with Laura Davis moving into the role of President.  I will continue to be on the board and support Teacup.  New ways for you to engage are being planned.  More details will follow about this, and your new leadership.  Thank you in advance for continuing to power forward our amazing mission!

Speaking of power, let's start celebrating this past season by thanking Jason and Erik Lehman for wrangling our PistenBullys to deliver 76 days of impeccable grooming.  In spite of our very delayed start to the season, this equated to only 11 days less than last season’s 7-month monster.  Such a similar number of skiing opportunities were made possible by the many Friday grooming sessions offered. Did this help get you out more?  Related to our venue operations, yet again Mt. Hood Nordic Ski Patrol volunteers helped ensure your comfort and safety.  And many more helped on race days, with summer clean-up days, etc…  collectively make possible our great venue.  Thank you everyone! 

We can also celebrate amazing programmatic progress!  Our Mt. Hood Nordic offerings continued to thrive.  For example, approximately 550 individuals engaged this year; 123 of them being part our youth programs (i.e. the race, pipeline & learn-to-ski teams.)  Underwritten by our venue’s “kids-ski-free policy” – many dedicated coaches (paid and volunteer) made manifest our mission.  An helped secure our future.  Lets all say thank you to Karl, Kelly, Siri, Jason, Rachael, Kai, Mike, Jeff, Brian, Dana, Doug, Mariah, James, Chris, Anna, Chad, Ken, Robert, Kathleen… our USSA licensed, background-checked and SafeSport trained coaches!

Being a nonprofit, our assets are the community’s and funded by those who value our impact.  From this perspective, I’m proud of the progress made towards building a more economically sustainable business model that is tailored for our community’s size and today’s user-expectations, social norms and regulatory environment.  Most of you probably know by now that this has been my primary focus.  Let me offer two examples that illustrate our progress, and I hope provide a sense of confidence and optimism for our future. 

Before COVID, our trail fees paid for about 87% of Teacup’s operations.  Under such a scenario, this year’s foregone holiday-season trail fees (roughly $50k we missed) would have resulted in a budget hole that would have negatively impacted future operations and investments.  Instead, and as detailed below, we will end this year with an ability to fund our labor, loans and planned improvements (like finishing our efforts to bring electricity to the venue.)  This was made possible by growth across programs, events, apparel, business sponsorship, grants and individual donor support, which collectively act to diversify and stabilize our budget.  Coupled with intentionally flexible cap-ex and conservative, predictable financing, Teacup / Mt. Hood Nordic’s work continues!


We are also seeing a stronger balance sheet emerge.  Over the past four ski seasons, we have evolved from an asset-light, 3rd party contract-groomed operation to a venue that owns and cares for best-in-class machines and buildings.  And which invests into (i.e. pays living wages to) expert employees.  This evolution underpins our progress.  For example, it creates redundancy so you can know Teacup / Mt. Hood Nordic’s trails and teams will be ready for you and your kids that next morning.  It also enables actions to safeguard the future, like how our amortizing equipment loans ensure we will have the down payment needed to replace them after about a decade of use.  As illustrated below, these actions manifest into positive asset and cashflow trends so as to support continued investment towards modernization, safety and accessibility needs.

I hope our stronger fiscal foundation provides not just a peace of mind today, but a confidence that we are serving well the next generation and investing for their benefit.  Coupled with our impactful venue, programmatic and event operations, let me express how fortunate I feel to have been able to help with this amazing nonprofit.  From this perspective, know that I’ll continue to encourage you to help… to step-up and step-in… because it is so very rewarding to do so.  This nonprofit has accomplished much over its decades of service to our region.  It’s a history written by patient, persistent, genuine effort.  Every skier is part of making Teacup / Mt. Hood Nordic so special.  It’s a cool thing we have going… onward! 

Have a nice summer & see you on the trails!

_Noel Johnson