STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO-February 1, 2016-Three Steamboat Ski Resort patrol members are on a two-week mission to share their expertise during an exchange visit to several ski resorts in China.

“China has a growing ski industry, an emerging traveling segment and will be hosting the Winter Games in 2022,” said Katie Brown, vice president of sales & marketing for the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. “This all adds up to an emerging international market with significant importance, and Steamboat is honored to share its knowledge in this area with our Chinese counterparts.”

In what is believed to be one of the first patrol exchanges of this type to China, Steamboat Patrol Director John Kohnke along with supervisors Jon Feiges and Kyle Lawton, left the United States and arrived in Beijing last week.


During their inaugural trip, the trio will visit Heavenly Lake – Changbaishan (China’s first cat ski operation perched on the border of China and North Korea), Songhua Lake – Jilin, Thaiwoo Resort in Chongli (home of the 2022 Winter Olympics) and Jundushan in Beijing sharing safety programs including avalanche awareness, mountain and snow management, training techniques and protocols as well as an overview of equipment used in patrol operations in the United States.

“Steamboat has a reputation for big snow, a big mountain and backcountry snowcat terrain to match,” said Justin Downes, president of Axis Leisure Management Ltd in China. “This is the first step in what we anticipate is a long-term program between the two regions and an exceptional opportunity for Steamboat to market its brand to the Chinese public as a resort that is a premium experience that treats safety as a prime factor.”

Steamboat has partnered with Axis Leisure to generate awareness in the market, establish social media programs including a WeChat presence, host visiting journalists such as Zheng Junfeng with
CCTV and develop opportunities to share expertise, programs and information. In addition, the Chinese mogul team under the direction of head coach Scott Rawles stopped in Steamboat for training on the 1000-vertical-foot mogul trail, Voo Doo, during a recent winter visit to the United States.


Axis Leisure Management is a strategic planning, consulting and management services headquartered in Beijing. Axis is working throughout Asia including China, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and India as well as representing in Asia international firms from Canada, America, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain and Australia. Its global reach brings an international market perspective to clients, helping them to develop world-class projects and brands in Asia.

 Patrol Team Bios

• John Kohnke: Director-Patrol

Steamboat’s Patrol Director, John Kohnke, is responsible for the patrol staff (trained in emergency and lifesaving medical procedures), advanced life support program, on-mountain SlopeWise safety & education programs, the Steamboat safety poster contest and acts liaison with various emergency medical organizations such as the Yampa Valley Medical Center and Routt County Search & Rescue. In the summer, he runs the summer activities in the Gondola Square Adventure Zone such as mountain biking and is responsible for medical response and on-mountain safety. Since joining the resort in 1974, Kohnke has held the following positions: Lift Operator, Mail Room, Trail Crew Sawyer, Trail Crew Blaster, Ski Patroller, Ski Patrol Supervisor, Asst. Director Ski Patrol and Asst. Director Slope and Vehicle Maintenance before moving to Patrol Director in 2000. A graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, he is a member of the National Ski Patrol and serves on the Routt County EMS Advisory Council.

• Kyle Lawton: Supervisor-Patrol

With the resort since 1993, Kyle Lawton currently serves as patrol supervisor responsible for the resort’s overall snow safety team which encompasses 23 individuals, oversees snow mitigation by ski cutting and/or explosives, manages extreme terrain openings and is a member of the High Angle Rescue; Chairlift Evacuation and Accident Investigation teams. He holds an American Avalanche Association Level III certification, a Colorado Emergency Medical Technician certificate and is an AIARE Level II instructor.  Over his career, he has participated twice in a season-long patrol exchange with Les 3 Vallees, a popular ski region in Savoie, France and currently sits on the selection committee for this program. Lawton serves on the board of the Cody St. John Foundation, which provides scholarships to patrollers looking to advance their medical and personal career growth. In addition, he is co-director of the Cody St. John race series, a memorial statewide event with funds going toward the foundation. A graduate of Texas State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, he is married to Amy Lawton, an oncology nurse and former Steamboat patroller, and has two boys (ages 8 and 6) who are snow sports enthusiasts.

• Jon Feiges: Supervisor-Patrol and Summer Bike Patrol

As a supervisor in the patrol department, Jon Feiges is responsible for the training and management of the patrol team in emergency and lifesaving procedures, injured skier and biker extraction, incident documentation as well as acting as liaison with outside agencies during search and rescue operations. Feiges first started working for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp as a ski school instructor in 1996 before departing briefly to gain additional experience in the outdoor education field. Two years later, he returned to the resort as a courtesy patroller. Over the next decade, his expertise has grown serving as a ski and mountain bike patroller before moving into to his current role as supervisor in 2011. Feiges participated in a season-long patrol exchange with Les 3 Vallees, a popular ski region in Savoie, France. In addition to a Bachelor of Language Arts from Colorado College and a Colorado Teaching License from the University of Colorado-Boulder; he currently holds a Colorado Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic and AAA Level II Avalanche Training certifications.

-Happy Trails®