Beaver Creek Ski Seminar
February 1-6, 2009 

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A Week in Beaver Creek –
A Fairy Tale Village on the Mountain

By Cynthia Chihak

This year’s annual CAOC Ski Seminar was in the beautiful mountains of Beaver Creek, Colorado. For the first time, it was held at the Pines Lodge. I have been attending this seminar for at least the last 12 years and my husband, Steven Denton, has attended for the last 20. In all the years I have attended I have never had a bad time and this year, as I seem to say every year, I had the best time ever! Not only were the rooms beautiful in the lodge, but the weather was phenomenal. There was over 20 feet of snow at Beaver Creek with three feet falling in the last seven days. Yet, the weather was perfect, at least for me. During the entire six days that we skied, the on-mountain temperature never fell below 25. It was winter snow in spring conditions.

The seminar before this year had traditionally been held at the Beaver Creek Inn. This year our accommodations were moved to the Pines Lodge. The rooms at the Pines were exceptional, the views breathtaking and the food was gourmet. Before this year we would dine at the Grouse Mountain Grill. This trip we were able to eat there every morning. The service at the Lodge was wonderful and the accommodations lovely, but most of all this trip was and is a unique chance to spend time with friends in a fairy tale setting.

This yearly event has become a family tradition, not only in my home, but for a number of others, including the Aitken family and Rouda clan, but only a few years back it looked like the tradition would die. Instead it was literally kept alive through the efforts of Doug Arnest of High Impact, Inc. Many of you know Doug through the great legal support High Impact provides with graphics, accident reconstruction and financial planning. Several years ago Doug, the founder and owner of High Impact volunteered to organize and subsidize the seminar. Since then, he has arranged, facilitated and marshaled the speakers, accommodations and extra-curricular activities. No small feat since organizing lawyers and making them all happy is akin to herding cats. At the seminars which, believe it or not, really are a fun way to earn your MCLE credits, he arranged hors d’oeuvres, including a daily supply of beer and wine followed by a prize giveaway. Not since Steve Boudreau successfully filled a lecture hall in San Diego with promises of great speakers and the opportunity to win wine (you had to stay until the end to be a winner), have I seen attendees stay until the conclusion of the final speaker.

Even without the raffle the seminars were uniquely structured on uncommon topics. As opposed to a pure lecture protocol, we were seated literally at a U-shaped table allowing and encouraging active discussion with give, take and tips from true masters. While initially you may not have thought a topic would have applicability to your practice, as it turned out, these speakers, such as Bill Smith from San Francisco and Diana Khoury from San Diego presented new options and successful solutions while providing real expertise on “how to do it.” We even had a practical lecture on hiring, firing, developing and keeping “super star employees.”

Brice Karsh, from the animation department of High Impact, literally explained how to cost efficiently run animations for cases that aren’t in the seven or even the six figures. John Bat’s informative presentation centering on financial planning for your client provided options to placing funds in simple annuity contracts. All and all, I’m sure everyone took away enough valuable information to pay for their trip.

Each day of the trip was nothing short of exceptional. We had ski races, lunches, a hosted party at McCoy’s, the base of Centennial Lift and ultimately a lovely night at Allie’s Cabin. We got to Allie’s by a private sleigh ride and then were treated to one of the best dinners in town. We made it there in time to see the fireworks. In all my years of going to Beaver Creek I have never before been treated to this particular event. Of course all of these events were the result of Doug Arnest’s hard work and High Impact’s sponsorship.

I suppose I should mention the skiing. It was phenomenal, whether you ski as a beginner, intermediate or expert. The runs are groomed daily, the mountain is not crowded, the lift line short or non-existent and the mountain staff phenomenally accommodating. If you haven’t guessed, I am a fair weather skier. I heard they had powder when we left. Thank goodness I got out of there before that stuff hit the ground.

Still, even without the phenomenal weather and the planned activities, the trip itself was worth the time, effort and cost merely to be with my friends, many of which I first met on this trip and have kept for years. This trip fosters close personal relationships. Every year there are the regular attendees and there are new people who, I expect, would tell you that they were made to feel like they were part of the old crowd, welcomed with open arms.

As the yearly trips to Beaver Creek have passed I have watched friends’ children and my children grow up and ultimately return with their own children. Our albums prove the legacy of memories the CAOC annual ski trip has become. This truly is a family and friend experience. I couldn’t more highly recommend a trip. It is a reunion. I encourage you to attend. If you like to ski at all or even if you might be willing to learn, please think about coming next year. Everyone will welcome you. You can call anyone who attended. Their experience, while unique, will be the same. Not only do you learn, it’s akin to spring break in college. I want to thank all of you who attended. It’s you – my friends and colleagues and your company – that made my vacation great and why we will be back next year.

I also want to thank Doug Arnest, the entire High Impact crew, Brice Karsh and Jon Bat, personally and on behalf of the Beaver Creek attendees, not only for keeping this seminar going and their efforts to make it even more amazing, but also for the great and conscientious job they have done in helping my clients. Through your amazing skill and caring, lives have been changed for the better.

We will be planning the 2010 seminar soon. If you are interested in speaking please contact Lori Sarracino, Education Director, at


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