Image: Karl Wolfgang

 
Manager, Sundance Liquor and Gifts
 
Aspen High Class of 2006


His varied interests would take him far and wide—and offer valuable lessons—but Wickes always appreciated home. A competitive freestyle skier from ages 13 to 21, he realized as a teen what a special school system Aspen has. Other resort towns didn’t have ski lifts starting from their schools, or programs like outdoor ed, which immerses students in the wilderness from a young age. 

Because of his skiing career, Wickes went to college in summer and spent winters in Aspen, competing during the day and working in a restaurant at night. During his senior year, however, he felt himself stagnating, and after earning a bachelor’s degree in finance, landed a job as a business analyst with Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.

Despite his genuine interest in business, “one year of the traditional corporate lifestyle was good enough for me,” says Wickes. He packed two bags and moved to Berlin to pursue electronic music production and DJing.

The electronica scene was extremely competitive, and Wickes supported himself mainly by judging World Cup freestyle skiing events. Eventually letting go of his music ambitions, he reaffirmed that, as with skiing, he can indulge a passion without making it a job. “If I enjoy it, that’s the most important thing,” he says.

At that point he returned to Aspen to help his parents, Steve and Barbara, who have owned Sundance in Snowmass Village since 1979. Their longtime liquor manager was retiring, and Wickes’s wife, Adriane, whom he’d met in Berlin, was also ready for a change.

Now, as manager of the store since summer 2014, Wickes, 30, uses his business skills but can also squeeze in a few runs or a hike during the workday. He still judges the occasional freestyle skiing comp, including X Games, and hosts a Friday-night radio show on KSPN.

Wickes also chairs the Snowmass Village Environmental Advisory Board and is nurturing a couple of small-scale farming projects. Turning a housing challenge into an opportunity, he and Adriane are building a sustainable attached home on his parents’ property. “I would like if one day our situation is a good example of being creative and sharing space for other people in this valley,” he says.

 

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