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Otten inducted into U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame

DIXVILLE — The Balsams Resort’s owner and lead developer, Leslie “Les” Otten, has been inducted to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for his “profound impact on the entire industry as an innovator and visionary.”

According to Justin Koski, executive director of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, the hall “is home to the individuals that shaped our industry. Les Otten is a titan in the winter sports industry. He has resort experience pumping through his veins. He is a wealth of knowledge and completely committed to this day to build resorts where family and friends can build a lifetime of memories, adventure and fun.”

While at Ithaca College in the early 1970s, Otten was a ski instructor at Greek Peak and upon graduation joined Killington Ski Resort’s management training program and became the general manager of Sunday River at the age of 23.

He purchased Sunday River from Killington for the debt seven years later and built it into one of the biggest and most successful resorts in the Northeast.

Over the course of his career, Otten owned 13 resorts across the country, improving and expanding each, including innovations in interval ownership, which became an industry-leading program with hotels at seven of his properties. His innate understanding of topography allowed Otten to envision trails and lift placements where others could not, while always respecting and honoring a mountain’s natural features and environment.

“Les Otten created a national footprint of resorts, hotels and services, and was on the forefront on ski technique, corporate sponsorships, events, management structure and the multi resort season pass. And now with his induction in the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame his accomplishment will inspire and mentor generations of ski enthusiast,” added Dan Egan, an honored member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and extreme skiing pioneer.

A master marketer and innovator, Otten revolutionized the ski industry through pioneering learn-to-ski programs, the adoption of parabolic skis, direct ticket-to-lift programs, and the “Ski America” pass to allow access to resorts nationwide.

His resorts were the first in the nation to fully embrace shaped skis, purchase the first 18-foot Pipe Dragon groomer for snow boarding and was among the first in the nation to open all trails to snowboarders. Additionally, Sunday River was one of the first to offer lift-serviced mountain biking during the summer.

As noted in the Hall of Fame’s tribute video, “His resorts set new standards for snowmaking quality and grooming.”

Otten’s current vision is to restore and expand The Balsams Resort in Dixville, New Hampshire. The redevelopment proposal includes reconstructing the historic Dix House, and renovating the historic Hampshire and Hale Houses, as well as the acclaimed Panorama golf course and clubhouse designed by pioneering golf course architect Donald Ross.

The Balsams Lake Village, which will encompass the Dix and Hampshire Houses, will feature a new Lake Gloriette House hotel, a 600-seat conference center, Nordic baths and spa, a performing arts center, and an open-air marketplace. The resort’s fine cuisine and chef training programs, known worldwide, will return through multiple culinary options around the resort. All will embrace the farm-to-table concept by sourcing locally grown meats, produce and dairy.

The plan also includes expanding The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area into one of the largest, most technically advanced ski resorts on the East Coast. Watch the overview video for more.

For more on The Balsams Resort redevelopment, go to