One of the defining moments of Andy Wirth’s life involved a move to Squaw Valley. He’d come to take the position of president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings. For many people this would be the end of a journey. It’s a prestigious position which allows one both professional and personal satisfaction. Who wouldn’t love to do well in the office and then head out for some fun within the natural beauty? But Andy’s love of sports and adventure pushed him beyond the slopes. He decided to try his hand at skydiving. And he quickly fell in love with the sport. He describes the feeling of skydiving as like nothing he’d ever felt before. And that love of it quickly turned into a focal point for his life. But it also brought with it a very real danger.
He and his friends went down to Davis, California for a jump. But pilot error took them a bit too far from the drop zone. This was made worse by the order of their jump and the changing wind conditions. When it was his turn to jump he quickly became aware that he wasn’t going to make the drop zone. He managed to maneuver himself as he fell, but in the end he hit a pole. And that pole literally ripped his arm off down to the mid forearm. He had to stop the blood flow at his armpit with the other hand. Thirty minutes after the land an ambulance was able to pick him up.
His recovery has been nothing short of inspiring. On the way to the hospital he remembers asking them to try to save his arm, no matter how long it took. Amazingly, between surgery and his own dedication to health, he was able to save it. The doctors were able to reattach much of it. Muscle and other material which wasn’t able to be recovered was taken from elsewhere on his body.
Since then he’s been able to keep up with his athleticism. Instead of letting it keep him down it’s been even more motivation to get out there and experience all that life has to offer. And things are going even better for him in the professional world. He’s working to connect Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows through a beautiful gondola system. This is exciting for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is the simple fact that it’s something that Andy wanted to do ever since he took on the position. It’s only recently that negotiations were able to make it possible. But it’s also notable for showcasing his love of sports and adventure. His injuries haven’t hurt his love of nature. He’s working harder than ever to find new ways of helping people experience the fun and adventure of skiing.