President and CEO of Aspen Skiing Company Mike Kaplan stands under Lift 1A after a lap under lift line to celebrate the 75th anniversary of lift access skiing and skico on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan stunned employees Wednesday night with announcement of his retirement one year from now, in April 2023.

Kaplan made the announcement at a party celebrating the long service of several employees. 

“There were a few hands over mouths and sad reflections,” said one Skico employee who was in the audience. “I think everyone just thought he would be there (for a long time).”

Kaplan also disclosed the news in an employee newsletter that was released simultaneously with his announcement. A copy of that newsletter was obtained by The Aspen Times.

“Today, I write to you with a tear in my eye and a knot in my stomach as I announce my retirement as President and CEO from Aspen Skiing Company, effective next year, April 30, 2023,” Kaplan wrote.

His announcement did not offer details on his decision. He noted that next year will be his 30th year with the company and that “it’s time for me to step back and welcome new leadership and perspectives.”

There is no apparent rift between Kaplan and the Crown family, full owners of the company.

“You’ve heard me say many times that our ownership just gets it,” Kaplan wrote. “They have empathy and are steadfast in their commitment to our values, our community, and us as people. Ultimately, it is their belief that doing business right is good business which has allowed me to succeed and for our company to thrive. (Managing partner) Jim Crown has been a great mentor, friend and boss, and I know that he will steward this organization into the future by selecting a solid successor. He will keep our positive momentum moving forward.”

Kaplan took the reins of Skico in November 2006, when he was 42.

In his letter Kaplan said a search for his replacement will begin immediately.

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Founded in 1881, The Aspen Times is the oldest print news outlet in Pitkin County, Colorado. The newspaper is a free, 9,000-circulation daily distributed from Aspen to Carbondale. The Aspen Times is part of a group of newspapers owned...