BOULDER, Colorado (Sept. 28, 2020) – During its first-ever online Award Ceremony on Sept. 22, 2020, the North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA), awarded eight of the best and brightest in the snowsports industry with their highest awards, one of which dates back almost 60 years. The winners were:

Harold S. Hirsch Award for Excellence in Snowsports Journalism

Eric Smith, former business reporter for SGB Media and now founder of Snowsports Business Report won in the Words category.

There was a tie in the Images category.  The co-winner of NASJA’s 2020 Hirsch S. Hirsch Award for Images is five time Hirsch Award recipient Dino Vournas, a member of SATW and active member of NASJA since 1977.

Also awarded: filmmakers Ray and Alicia Alba of Alba Adventures. Both have produced award-winning film shorts that have been shown in numerous film festivals including Lake Placid Film Festival and the IF3 Film Festival in Montreal.

The Hirsch recognizes excellence involving snowsports in Words, Images and Books (every three years), emphasizing journalistic creativity and editorial or artistic content. Almost 60 years-old, the award is named for Harold S. Hirsch, ski clothing pioneer and founder of White Stag.

Paul Robbins Outstanding Competitor Award – Maggie Voisin

 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Ski Slopestyle Team member Maggie Voisin, 21, from Whitefish, Montana and Park City, Utah, won the NASJA Competitor of the Year Award.  Maggie, a two-time Olympian (2014, 2018), had one of the best comeback seasons the freeski community has ever seen.

The Robbins is awarded to North American snowsports participants who have distinguished themselves in amateur or professional competition during the current season.  The award is named in memory of Paul Robbins, who spent 30 years as primary journalist for the U.S. Ski Team.

Bob Gillen Memorial Award – John Wagnon

The Gillen was presented to John Wagnon who for 46 years was a force for innovation and change in the way ski resorts deal with media relations and how these resorts and regions market themselves to the local and worldwide snowsports communities. When Vail Resorts purchased Heavenly in 2011, John became Senior Director of Regional Marketing of their three Tahoe resorts and helped shape iconic brands and strategies still in use today. He retired in 2016.

The Gillen is awarded to an individual corporate member for contributions to the advancement of snowsports, and who exemplifies the highest standards of professionalism in public relations and communications. The award is named for the former SKI Magazine editor and marketing wizard at Crested Butte and Sugarbush resorts.

Mitch Kaplan Award – Greg Sweetser

The Kaplan was presented to Greg Sweetser, former director of the Ski Maine Association where he served for 24 years. Mitch Kaplan and Greg Sweetser shared a mutual love and commitment as board members to the WinterKids program (

The award is presented to the journalist whose work best captures the spirit, enthusiasm and dedication of Mitch Kaplan, former NASJA Secretary-Treasurer and multiple Harold S. Hirsch Award winner.

Carson White Snowsports Achievement Award – Dave Kelly, Magic Carpet Ski Lifts

Dave Kelly revolutionized the ski industry and ski areas and made life a lot easier and less terrifying for beginners.

By 1996, with a redesigned, lighter, less expensive modular unit, Magic Carpet Ski Lifts spun off from the parent company and became an international sensation with 600-1000 lifts installed in 10 countries.

The Carson White is awarded to an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of snowsports in North America, either achieved with a single, defining accomplishment or through a lifetime of snowsports endeavors. The award is named in memory of Carson White, first president of the U.S. Ski Writers Association., forerunner to NASJA.

NASJA Thanks the Award Judges

Judges for the awards were:

  • Images – Mark D. Phillips, former AP photographer; and Earl Saline, Director of Director of Education Programming, National Ski Areas Association.
  • Words – Marcia Biggs, editor, St. Pete Life magazine; and Michael Kodas journalism professor University of Colorado Boulder.


The North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA) is a professional group of over 200 press and corporate members. Press members include writers, photographers and other communicators who report on ski, snowboard and Nordic related news, information and features via various media outlets. Corporate members include media contacts or employees of ski resorts, convention and visitor associations, manufacturers and others who have a commercial interest in the journalistic coverage of winter sports. (

Media contact:
Jeff Blumenfeld
c 203 326 1200,