Class of 2020
Innovators and Leaders in West Virginia Snow Sports
Area Operations and/or Management or Development Competition
For a person who helped put the sport of skiing on the map in two mid-Atlantic states, it was not high on his list of career possibilities growing up in Brick Township, New Jersey. Danny Seme thought he would be a football coach, not the President and General Manager of the largest ski resort in the southeast region.
But the ski bug bit Seme while attending and playing football at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina. In 1968, Seme helped his brother in Beech Mountain's ski rental shop part-time while going to college.
The next year Seme helped construct Sugar Mountain's trails. Seme was also involved in mountain operations, such as snowmaking, grooming, and lifts. After he learned to ski, he became a member of Sugar's ski patrol and then became a National Ski Patrol member. He figured if he could join that group, he could use his first aid training on the slope. Because he was now being paid to patrol the slopes, Seme became the first paid ski patroller in the south.
Seme remained at Sugar until 1973, leaving for West Virginia's mountains with Dr. Tom Brigham, another inductee in the Snow Sports Museum of West Virginia's Hall of Fame. In September of that year, Seme was on the development team that Brigham put together to begin Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County. Dr. Brigham chose Cheat Mountain's peak in Pocahontas County as the site for Snowshoe after learning that the area received an average 180 inches of natural snow every year.
As mountain manager, Seme coordinated all the initial hiring and training of the entire crew, the beginning of the massive undertaking. That included clearing all the trails, building sites, snowmaking system, lifts, and original access road from the base. In December 1974, Snowshoe Mountain Resort opened for skiers, and the first tracks were made on the eastern side of Cheat Mountain.
As was the case for most southeast ski resorts that opened during that period, there were a considerable number of challenges, many of which were financial.
Seme continued to work at Snowshoe, leaving in 1981. At the time, Seme again joined forces with Dr. Brigham, trying to build another resort in neighboring Randolph County, Tory Mountain. While trails were cut and an operational building constructed, complete funding for the project never materialized and had to be shut down. At this time, Seme also served as an industry consultant to Canaan Valley Resort and Stratton Mountain in Vermont.
In 1984, Seme was brought back to Snowshoe by a federal trustee when the resort went into bankruptcy to handle the day-to-day operations. Seme put together a team to operate the resort until a buyer could be found.
Later, when Ski Venture purchased the resort, a group of eight savings and loan banks in 1987, Seme remained on as the Vice-President and General Manager, helping bring the resort back to offering an outstanding product for skiers.
In 1990, Tokyo Tower purchased Snowshoe and made Seme the resort's President and General Manager. During the next five years, the resort saw enormous growth with the purchase of the Inn at Snowshoe, Silver Creek Resort, and the construction of the Gary Player Championship Golf Course.
During his career in the ski industry, Seme served six years on the National Ski Areas Association Board, including a two-year term as Chairman, was the founding President of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association, and was President of the Southeast Ski Areas Association. Seme also served on the West Virginia Governor's Tourism Advisory Committee.
Seme left Snowshoe in 1996, a year after Intrawest purchased it, and went to work at Sunday River Resort in Maine. After leaving the ski industry, Seme retired to Florida, where he currently resides with his wife, Carol.