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Ski Happy with a 23/24 Passholder Beanie

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May we have your hat-tention! The long-awaited, greatly anticipated winning passholder beanies are here. Beanie designer Andrew W’s iconic Gondola scenescape emerged as this year’s fan favorite. Anyone who has been to Sugar Bowl before knows about our historic Gondola. 

Our charming 4-seater gondola whisks Sugar Bowl goers to America’s only snowbound village. It was the second gondola built in America in 1953. Jerome Hill (yes that’s his name and yes that’s where we got the name for Jerome Hill lift from) funded the installation of the “Magic Carpet Gondola” the West Coast’s first ski gondola. This made it possible to get to the base area in 7 minutes versus the previous 30-minute tractor-drawn sled ride and could move 280 people per hour.

This year’s passholder beanies have been manufactured here in the United States by Deso, a company born out of time spent right in Tahoe’s very own Desolation Wilderness. Deso focuses on functional and sustainable apparel, making them an easy choice to produce our iconic passholder beanies.

Get to know Andrew W and learn how he designed this year’s passholder beanie.

portrait of beanie designer
Beanie designer Andrew W.

Where did you grow up?

I moved up here a few years ago from the Bay Area but I’ve been going to Sugar Bowl since I was 5. When I saw you guys had a beanie design contest I was stoked. 

The important question: do you ski or snowboard? 

When I was younger I skied, but then I was like oh, skiing isn’t cool, I’m going to snowboard. My dad didn’t love that, but now I want to learn to ski again.

I’m sick of having to strap and unstrap from a snowboard. 

What’s your go-to creative outlet? Drawing, design, music?

My job is a graphic designer and web designer so I do it for work but I’m also a creative person in general. I’m always making stuff and trying new mediums, building things. Right now I’m getting into making guitars from scratch!

That’s awesome! One of our keystone events we do is the Tiki Pond Skim and last year our prizes for contestants were ukuleles that were beautifully carved, so if you get really into building guitars maybe we can have you build some ukuleles for us!

I was thinking about making a ukulele because it’s like a small guitar, and might be a better place to start.

We will have to keep you in mind then!

beanie laying in snow

What prompted you to enter the beanie design contest?

My dad has been going to Sugar Bowl for 58 years. He started taking me when I was 5 years old and he started going there when he was 5 as well. So he saw the beanie contest email and immediately forwarded it to me saying, “You’ve got to do this!”. 

Then a few weeks later I also got the email and that solidified that I was going to do it.

Does your dad still ski up here?

Oh yeah, he’s up there every season and I think he will be until he can’t anymore.

Can you tell us how you came up with your design? I can guess what your inspiration was, but what prompted you to choose the gondola?

I was looking at the previous designs and I was like ok, the string between them is that they are both “insider” designs. People who go to Sugar Bowl will understand what those designs mean. So I knew I needed to pick something that was iconic to Sugar Bowl and that any passholder would recognize and could go, “Yeah that’s my place”. I tried a whole bunch of different things, the lifts, the lodge, but none of them seemed as iconic as the gondola.

Do you usually take the gondola when you come up here?

I think I did when I was young but now we normally park at Judah.

Well, we will have to make sure to get you on it at least once this winter!

vintage gondola at sugar bowl
Historic Gondola photo

We already touched on this a bit but it sounds like this isn’t your first time doing design work? This is your career, right?

This is not the first time I have designed something. I’ve been working in design professionally for 5-6 years. But I started doing graphic design in middle school. I’ve always been a creative person, my mom and I used to go to art museums a lot which I loved. And I was also interested in tech so I guess the two were destined to intertwine at some point.

When you are designing something, what does your creative process look like?

It usually starts with reference gathering and then sketching. I recently got an iPad which totally changed the game with being able to draw directly on a screen. It’s just roughing stuff out, sketching, finding form, and then finishing it out. 

Have you entered a design contest before?

Nope, this is my first one!

Dang, that’s some pretty good luck! 

Will you come up to ride with us up at Sugar Bowl this winter?

Of course!

Ok so you wake up on a beautiful winter morning and decide to hit the slopes. Can you describe your ideal day of skiing/ snowboarding?

Ideally, I don’t have to wake up super early to shovel my car out. I can just walk up my hill with my board and it isn’t terrifying to drive on the road. So maybe powder fell the night before. Some soft, awesome powder. 

Probably going by myself, I like to go as fast or slow as I want to. Go hit Lincoln over and over again. I’d be ok if it was a slightly less severe winter this coming winter. While it was awesome, it was so much work to live here. 

Yeah, I think we are all slightly traumatized but in a nostalgic manner from this last winter.

(laughs) yes, it was magical but at times I was like ok, can it calm down please??

sugar bowl gondola with mt lincoln in the background
One of the photos Andrew used as a reference to design the beanie

So we’ve ordered thousands of your beanies. When our shipment arrives we will send you a big stack of beanies to share. Who are you most excited to share them with?

Any and all of my friends that want them but mainly my dad. He has an emotional connection to the gondola. When he saw my design he freaked out. The emotion that the gondola evokes, it symbolizes a place that is so special to him, it makes me so excited to give him one.

He will get the VIP beanie treatment! Handed one straight from the designer himself. No beanie drop needed.

All my friends keep asking if they can buy one. I keep telling them I don’t know, if it’s anything like last year, they’re a little hard to get! The day I got the Lincoln one last year I was trying to figure out where was the best place to be to prepare for the drop that would happen in 30 minutes. Luckily you guys dropped them at Judah that day and that’s where I happened to be.

If you could see anyone in the world rocking your beanie, who would it be?

I truly just want anyone who loves Sugar Bowl to have one of these beanies. I want my dad and I want Sugar Bowl enjoy-ers to have them.

If you see people rocking your beanie in public do you think you’ll make a comment to them?

I’ve thought about this and I’m not sure. Because I see people rocking the old ones around town and I think about seeing them in my design. I think it will depend on the day, but some part of me would want to say something. I’m not usually one to brag but this is really exciting

It’s totally worth bragging rights!

When you think about this winter, besides being stoked to wear your winning design, is there anything else you are looking forward to?

Having my dad reteach me how to ski. It’s been 23 years since he first taught me and he’s going to do it again and I’m really excited.

Want to get alerts when we do beanie drops? Sign up for our passholder beanie drop alerts via text. Text PASSHOLDER to (855) 835-5599.

Authentic Alpine Experience
Perched atop Donner Summit, Sugar Bowl Resort has been family owned since the beginning in 1939. While visiting Sugar Bowl much of the historic charm is still maintained within the modern resort. Touches of Austrian character and Bavarian styling provide a glimpse into Hannes Schroll's and other founders' vision for this unique mountain.