Meet the Regenolds - A Spirit Mountain Family
On any given day at Duluth’s Spirit Mountain, you’re likely to encounter one or more members of the Regenold family. While husband and wife Jon and Tess Regenold work as Directors of Resort Services, Marketing and Programming, they also have six children - ranging in age from toddler to teen - all of whom love to get out on the slopes.
“The kids are out daily,” Jon noted. “Everyone can ski, including our one-and-a-half-year-old, and most can snowboard, too.”
Neither Jon nor Tess is originally from Duluth. The lure of skiing and other outdoor activities drew them here. And a passion for the area has enticed them to stay.
Draw to Duluth
Tess is originally from Wadena, Minnesota, and Jon is from Minnetonka. Both grew up traveling to Duluth and the North Shore for ski trips with their families.
“I grew up skiing and came up to Spirit Mountain quite a bit,” Tess said. “And when it came to picking a college, I had always loved Duluth.”
As for Jon, he also got an early start on the slopes. “I began skiing at age 5,” he shared. “The draw of Duluth and the desire to be up the North Shore are what brought me here. UMD was the only school I applied for.”
The couple met while attending college at UMD, and were married in 2005. Today, the couple have six kids: Lilli (14); Jonah (12); Oliver (11); Amelia (8); Gretta (4); and Maisie (1 ½). They also have a cat named Mot, a dog named Willow, and five chickens.
The Regenolds live in the Duluth Heights neighborhood. In their off time, the family enjoys camping, hunting, biking, and, of course, skiing.
Spirit Mountain originally opened as a recreation area in 1974; a focus that continues today.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Spirit offers snow tubing, camping, lift-served mountain biking, and an adventure park featuring a zip line and alpine coaster for summertime enjoyment. There are lessons and instructors available for beginners, and trails for all ability levels.
“We really look at Spirit as a recreation area,” Jon explained. “Winter sports are the bread and butter, but we have many different uses. For instance, the Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth Traverse, and Duluth Cross City Snowmobile Trail all pass through the property. There are a wide variety of recreation options, including bird-watching, too.”
For outdoor adventurers, Spirit provides 700 vertical feet of hills, with 175 acres of skiable terrain. There are 22 named runs, which vary in difficulty.
Additionally, Spirit is a great place to host an event. The on-site Skyline Chalet is a popular venue for weddings, celebrations of life, class reunions, corporate events, and other private gatherings. There is also dining available; the Grand Avenue Chalet’s Riverside Bar & Grill is open year-round for a meal or beverage, and the Moosehead Saloon and Mountaintop Café provide other seasonal options.
Spirit Mountain is also home to plenty of fun events throughout the year, including the Atmore Memorial Slalom Race; Bike Duluth Festival; Frosted Fatty; and an annual spring celebration called SMASH (Spirit Mountain Annual Spring Happening). Please visit Spirit Mountain’s website or Facebook page to learn more.
The Regenolds have a lengthy tenure with Spirit Mountain, dating back to 2002. Jon first began working at Spirit as a ski instructor during college. Since then, he has worked on the snowmaking team, as a freestyle skiing coach, and on the terrain park crew. Today, his title is Director of Resort Services.
“I run the rental department, facilities, and am a part of events and programming,” he noted. “I also handle aspects of guest services and have had a role in development, such as being a part of the expansion of the mountain bike park.”
Tess began as a ski instructor, too; about a year after Jon started. Over the years, she has worked at the front desk, helped with snow sports programming, and coaching youth camps before entering management. Today, her title is Director of Marketing and Programming.
“Although Jon and I have different titles and responsibilities, a lot of our ‘stuff’ intertwines,” Tess shared. “As far as marketing, I take pride in being able to represent Spirit Mountain to the community. I handle programming, such as school outreach and day-to-day lessons. And we both help with summer camp programming.”
In addition to the Regenolds, Spirit Mountain employs roughly 250-300 people during the winter. Year-round, that number hovers around 35-40.
“Tess and I are part of a team here at Spirit,” Jon said. “[As Directors] we play a role in what Spirit does, but it takes a full team to do what we do.”
Great Choice for Locals and Tourists
Spirit Mountain has plenty to offer for local residents and tourists alike. “It’s a blast to be able to speak to people from other areas,” Jon said. “They realize that our runs are long and we have plenty of varied terrains.
“And our view is unmatched. The urban and wilderness views at Spirit Mountain are so amazing. We overlook the St. Louis River Basin, and the moon rises in the winter can be spectacular.
“I also feel so privileged to tell employees what we offer here,” he added. “Most, if not all, people who work here are here because of their passion for the sport. We create an atmosphere that is fun and encourages the continuation of the sport.”
For the Regenolds, their passion for Duluth – and Spirit Mountain - has enticed them to stay and plant roots here. The couple has found Duluth to be a wonderful place to live, work, play, and raise their growing family.
“One of the massive draws of Duluth is the absolute nearness of the wilderness,” Jon shared. “But it’s interesting how Spirit has played such a big role in keeping us here in Duluth.”
“These jobs and this industry … they aren’t the typical 9-5 type of job,” Tess added. “We get to spend time together as a family. It’s just everyday life. But I think the most rewarding thing for me is the excitement and ability to help people make memories and build their skills.”
The Regenolds have biked and skied in many locations over the years. But, in their minds, nothing compares to Duluth.
“We’ve traveled to a lot of places,” Tess said. “And we always come back and realize how special it is here.”
For more information, please visit spiritmt.com.