Snow Park New Zealand founder Sam Lee resigned last week from his position as operations manager of the freestyle terrain park, citing a "deterioration of my professional relationship" and "a difference in values" with his business partners.
Snow Park opened in 2001 as the world's first dedicated freestyle snow resort. It is located in the Cardrona Valley, about 40-minutes away from Queenstown, on land owned by the Lee family. Lee has played an integral part in building the resort up from the days when it had just one T-bar lift to the well-known destination for pro snowboarders during the Southern Hemisphere winter season that it has become today. For those familiar with Lee's work at Snow Park, his resignation has come as a shock.
"He is the founder and father of this little masterpiece," said Snow Park team rider and New Zealand halfpipe Olympic hopeful Amy Sheehan. "He has put New Zealand on the map as far as skiing and snowboarding is concerned."
"I have come to the decision to resign following advice received from my lawyer," Lee said in a statement. "I have been having difficulties in serving the best interests of the company due to the deterioration of my professional relationship with my former fellow director and shareholders, the Synotts.
"It has become apparent that we have a difference in values and I feel my role as Operations Manager and my ability to serve the day to day needs of the company have been compromised.
"I am leaving the company in good heart and good hands as the team that has been assembled for the forthcoming season is second to none."
Despite his resignation, Lee will remain on as a shareholder in the company. Both Lee and Snow Park director Robin Sadowski-Synnott declined to comment further on the matter.
Snow Park is scheduled to open for the season on June 11.