SHANNON BUHLER CULTIVATES A SENSE OF BELONGING AT THE HELM OF STOWE MOUNTAIN RESORT.
By Brian Mohr
Whether it’s hopping on the first chair of the day, soaking up a scenic view, or enjoying the camaraderie of an afternoon on the hill with friends, skiing runs in Shannon Buhler’s veins; the new vice president and general manager for Stowe Mountain Resort took her first turns at just 14 months old. “The thing I love most about skiing is that no matter how much you do it, there is always a new challenge,” says Buhler.
Buhler spent her early childhood around the mountains of California. Her grandfather was on the ski patrol at Mount Baldy for 15 years, and her father worked at Mountain High and Bear Mountain resorts.
“I like to say that I grew up in the ski school locker room,” Buhler says, reflecting on the countless mornings she began by booting up among ski instructor friends and mentors, or in her dad’s office. “It allowed me an inside look at how amazing a career in the ski industry could be.”
In 1994, Buhler’s family moved to Colorado. Her father was the COO of Keystone and Breckenridge; her mom was superintendent of the local school district. Despite their demanding careers, they were always present for Buhler. “They attended every single one of my sporting events and activities growing up,” she says. “They showed me what it looks like to find a balance.”
Five Fun Facts About Buhler
Most Memorable Trip • When I was 15 I played softball for an international softball team and was able to travel to Australia and play in the Sydney Olympic stadium.
Best Ski Day • The day after Breckenridge closes for the season to the public, all employees are invited to ski at the resort. One year it snowed two feet overnight and was snowing hard all day. We had the mountain to ourselves and fresh tracks all day long.
Proudest Accomplishment • My family. I have a beautiful, smart, driven wife and two incredible daughters.
Hidden talent • I earned third place in the Vermont State Steinholding Championship at von Trapp Brewing in October.
Favorite Way to Relax • There is not much down time in our lives with two little kids, but just spending time with my family is perfect! Besides skiing, we enjoy golf and hiking—and we do love a beach vacation each year
Buhler began working for Vail Resorts more than 20 years ago as a teen, holding roles at Breckenridge, Vail, and Keystone in Colorado. But her first job managing a ski area took her to Snow Creek in the hills north of Kansas City, Missouri.
The small resort (it has just 11 trails) proved a stepping stone to future leadership positions. “Snow Creek has all the complexities and moving parts of a big mountain like Stowe,” she says, from snowmaking and trail maintenance to ski patrol and ski school.
And its modest size required a hands-on approach to management that has stuck with her. “Spending time in operations is the most fun part of my job,” Buhler says. “People will see me in our F&B outlets sorting food and clearing tables, helping in the parking lots, and supporting guest services around the mountain.”
After Snow Creek, Buhler landed a role as senior director of mountain operations for Northstar, in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, with more than 3000 skiable acres and a world-class bike park. “I started making snow with the team there and learning everything I could about the science of it,” she says. (Nerding out about snow earned her the nickname Snow Boss.)
Buhler spent almost two years at Northstar before taking the reins at Stowe in July. She, her wife Megan, and their two young girls, Mackenzie and Addison, are looking forward to building a life in the east. “The draw to Stowe was being able to lead a great team and support such a strong community that loves the mountain and wants it to be amazing for many generations to come,” she says. “This town, with its history, is special—it’s the perfect place for my family to put down roots.”
In addition to running Stowe, Buhler co-leads Vail Resorts’ Women & Allies Employee Resource Group, where she plays an active role in creating an inclusive environment within the company—as well as in the male-oriented outdoor industry overall.
“We have conducted workshops, gathered input from focus groups, and analyzed data to assess how we can best empower and elevate female employees,” Buhler says. “We also work with our recruitment teams and human resources to identify ways to create more opportunities for women across our network of resorts.”
Buhler has long been a champion for women in pursuit of career growth. “It isn’t super normal to see females in the mountain operations world, and it should be,” she told Northstar in 2022, reflecting on gender bias she has encountered in the industry. “When you grow higher up in leadership, it tends to be more male-dominated. It takes a desire to break through that and have the confidence to speak up in a room of a lot of men.”
Buhler was fortunate to grow up with supportive parents who modeled what dedicated, compassionate leadership looks like. “They worked hard, cared deeply for their teams, and were committed to their success,” she says.
That legacy of lifting others up—whether by advocating for women’s advancement, or jumping in to help with operations on a busy powder day—has earned Buhler a reputation as a relationship-builder who brings people together. “Having a positive impact on our employees’ and guests’ lives is an incredible opportunity,” she says. “Getting to know the team and broader community, and caring deeply about each person as an individual, is critical.”.