Eldora’s Chief Water Systems Operator is Named Randy Newquist, But You Can Call him Squid
by Aaron Bible
Eldora's "Closer to You" series showcases the people who make the Eldora community so special.
When I pull up to Eldora, chief water operator Randy Newquist is chest-deep in Peterson Lake, the mountain’s main water source for snowmaking. Hopefully, he’ll be chest-deep in that water again this winter, when Eldora’s snowmaking team turns it into white gold.
Newquist knows better than anyone where that snow water is going to fall, how much is going to evaporate or blow away, and how it’s going to lay. He’s also a long-time night groomer and former snowmaker – a position he’s held since the winter of 1973/74, making him the longest-tenured employee on the mountain. In fact, Eldora boasts one of the first snowmaking systems in the state of Colorado, dating back to that first season Newquist started working on the mountain.
To say he’s seen a thing or two at this community ski area is an understatement. It’s safer to say he’s an integral part of not only the history of the mountain but also its infrastructure. “Anyplace anything is buried, they come to me,” he says. “If I didn’t bury, I don’t know where it is, but if I buried it, I can probably find it.”
From the time he started in 1974 until about 1986, no one at Eldora even knew his name was Randy. “They called me Squid. I even signed my timecards and other paperwork as Squid, because my boss and one other guy was also named Randy.” Now, Newquist says, most of those folks have moved on.
“I was just here for a long time and I didn’t want to leave,” he says. “I just grew up with the ski area; grew old with the ski area. I enjoy what I do.”
Over time he moved from snowmaking to grooming, which he loved. “Grooming was fun. We take a lot of pride in those jobs. We have some thrills, but the solitude was nice. We had to deal with snowmakers and that was about it,” Newquist says. In the summers, he was the main equipment operator, and also served as summer caretaker for a few seasons. As pumps and hoses began to need updating and water became a more crucial issue in the late 1980s, he eventually focused more on that side of the resort.
And with every new owner over the years, everything changed just a little bit, usually for the better. “The whole place has gotten better. Like at most ski areas, things get better when they spend money,” he says.
The lead water systems operator since 2008, Newquist sees Eldora as having entered the modern era—and he sees it as a good thing. From the night-skiing years to paving the Shelf Road, installing snowmaking on Corona, and all of the other many improvements over the years, Newquist has seen it all. Despite all the changes over the years, managing water in the summer in order to provide the best snowmaking and grooming possible in the winter is still what drives him, year after year.