ski coach

It’s not every day that a person’s passion, drive, and hard work allows them to achieve success at the highest echelon but, that’s pretty much exactly what happened recently with Granite Chief’s own Josh Benge. Some of you might know Josh as the ski coach who helped your child reach their highest skiing potential at Squaw Valley, or maybe you know him from when he tuned your skis to race-quality in Granite Chief’s back shop or, maybe you just know him from having met him around town at some point. Chances are he had a smile on his face and something nice to say.

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Herb & Treas Manning

1 January 2015

Our passions

Owners & Founder 

Owners, Buyers, Chief Tuner, Merchandiser, Restroom Cleaner, Board of Complaints. Let us know if we can help!  Snow, Red Dirt & Granite Chief, our passions!

We work in our stores full time, active on the selling floor and mingling with clients. Many of them have become good friends. We know every trail, every mountain bike ride, all of the special nuances of the Valley, Truckee and North Tahoe.

The question of how we can work, live and play together gets asked constantly. Over the years we’ve come to know each other’s strengths. We have our separate duties at Granite Chief. Herb takes on the hardgoods department, rental & demos, and booting fitting. Treas is responsible for softgoods, merchandising and store presentation. We work together on marketing and general administration. That strategy not only works for us at Granite Chief but in our personal relationship as well. Treas remembers birthdays, Herb shovels snow.

Gunner Wolf

1 January 2015

Chief Boot Fitter

Gunner Wolf has been with Granite Chief almost since the beginning. Thirty years of boot fitting, setting the standard and developing many of the techniques that are used today in custom fitting. He has been the go to boot fitter not only for the core Squaw skier but to many elite US Ski Team athletes as well. His knowledge and expertise is among the best in the country, just ask Tamara McKinney, Julia Mancuso, Travis Ganong, Frans Webber, Tom Wayes and most anybody that has grown up skiing the steeps of Squaw Valley.

Gunner heads up our boot department and is responsible for training all Granite Chief boot fitters. If they work at Granite Chief they have been trained by Gunner

Gunner Wolf is listed as a pioneer in custom boot fitting on Wikipedia

John Darby

1 January 2015

Store Manager

John Darby’s experience in the ski industry spans over four decades, 15 as a PSIA certified instructor at Heavenly and New Zealand’s Mt. Hutt, followed by 17 years as a ski rep for Rossignol, and the last 10 at Granite Chief. A technical skier by nature, he loves the mix of modern ski shapes, but especially skis with sidecut for carving precise lines down Squaw’s legendary runs. He’ll help you find the gear you want to match your skiing style and help you reach your goals.


Darren Padgett

1 January 2015


Custom Boot Fitter & Hardgoods Sales Associate

Entering his twenty-sixth year as a custom boot fitter, and his sixteenth at Granite Chief, there’s about nothing Darren can’t fix when it comes to ski boots. Specializing in fore, aft, and lateral boot balancing, Darren has an uncanny eye for how to improve your boot alignment. Darren also builds custom foot beds and aftermarket liners for some of the best skiers in the Lake Tahoe region, along with serving the general public. Hailing from Southern California, Darren spent years working in a SoCal ski shop and driving to Mammoth on days off, before a trip to Squaw Valley changed his course and prompted a move to North Lake Tahoe.  In the summer Darren can be found hard at work a foreman of a landscape crew, installing landscapes, hardscapes, and lawns.


Jesse “J-Man” Cassidy

1 January 2015


Backshop Manager & Tydel Wrangler

Jesse “J-Man” Cassidy grew up wrestling polar bears and wearing seal skins for warmth in the Great White North, Alaska, for those residing in the lower 48. After perfecting his skiing technique at Alyeska, a desire for new mountains, new people, and to see his good buddy, Tydel, brought J-Man southwards to seek his fortune. While he enjoys most aspects of the great sport we know as skiing, it’s the little things that keep bringing him back; drinking, the sliding down snow part, traveling and, oh did we mention drinking? After 6 glorious years spent working at Granite Chief Jesse now patrols the tuning benches as the backshop manager and official “Tydel Wrangler”, a position that’s not without its challenges. When he’s not wrangling Tydels or mounting skis Jesse enjoys traveling, biking, whitewater rafting and, did we mention drinking?


Custom Boot Fitter & Hard Goods Sales Associate

Ja boi, Tydel was born and raised in tropical Lake Tahoe. A true native of the area, he enjoys nipple-deep pow turns as well as sparking some arcs. Tydel’s Jedi training is currently being overseen by none other than the Gun Show, AKA Gunner. Ja boi grew up skiing at the Legendary Squaw Valley, true to his Granite Chief heritage. This true ski bum has been working at The Chief for the better part of a decade. (8 years, for those keeping score at home) In the off-season you can find him hanging out with kangaroos and wombats in the Land Down Under. His boot and ski knowledge is coming along thanks to the help of the wizards at Granite Chief, Gunner, Darren, Darby, and of course Herb, The Snowman, himself.


Kaweah of Squaw Valley

1 November 2008

Top Dog & Customer Greeter

My name is Kaweah and I put in more hours at Granite Chief than I can count. Personally, I’d rather be out running in the meadow or cashing squirrels up Shirley Canyon but my folks like having in the shop. When I was a pup I used to hop on the old gondola and hike up to High Camp, good vittles up there. After lunch I’d take a dip in the pool. Boy was I in trouble…they chained me to the front of the store like a mangy mutt. I’m older now and I don’t roam as much. I park myself at the front door and welcome customers, everybody loves a shop dog.