Big melt affecting snow sports in Summit County
Ryan Summerlin March 20, 2012
The Ice Castles aren’t the only cold-weather dependent amenity in Summit County that struggled with last week’s warmer temperatures.
Silverthorne closed North Pond Park Ice Rink and the Nordic Center last week.
North Pond is fed by an underground spring that warms water temperatures. Melting snowpack also hindered the ice stability. Warm temperatures in mid-March softened the Nordic Center’s trails to the point grooming wasn’t feasible any longer.
The ice season wasn’t significantly shorter than average, Silverthorne recreation and culture director Joanne Breigenzer said. The ice rink opened on Dec. 17 and closed on March 12. Last year, the opening was one week earlier and the closing about the same.
“In regards to the Nordic Center at The Raven, the opening this year was delayed significantly due to lack of snow. We did not open until late December and even at that time, conditions were less than desirable,” Breigenzer said. “Last year, the Nordic Center opened on Nov. 11.”
The Nordic Center’s closing is about the same as in 2011.
In Frisco, the Peninsula Recreation Center is also hurting for snow, making it a challenging season.
“The snow is melting quickly, but we’re managing through it,” recreation director Diane McBride said. “We have a good base that has helped us out tremendously. Staff is doing a great job of maneuvering the snow as needed.”
The tubing hill and beginner ski hill are still slated to close on April 15, but fewer tubing lanes may be available if snow must be consolidated.
“It’s spring break. We want to be open,” McBride said.
Meadow Creek ice rink behind Walmart is currently closed because of the melt, she added.
In Breckenridge, some of the town’s Nordic trails are closed, but those that are open provide ideal spring conditions, spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said.
“We have had two of the trails in a soft closing (last week). It basically means we need a tiny bit more snow and then they’ll be open as soon as we can,” she said. “Everything that’s open is still covered and very skiable. There’s a little bit of an impact but it’s sure beautiful out there and it’s a good time to come out there with the sun and do some nice spring skiing at the Nordic Center.”
Keystone Resort guests have noticed what they call “dirty” slopes, trails that have the base somewhat exposed or have been wind-blasted with dust. Such conditions could cause more melt than expected, earlier than expected, as the darker snow attracts more of the sun’s heat.
At Copper Mountain, though there are bare spots on trails toward the base of the mountain, spokeswoman Nell Bailey said the slope maintenance manager isn’t concerned.
“We are currently on pace for normal lift operations,” she said. “February had above-average snow totals, which was a great way to launch into March. This past week has been mostly destination guests and they are loving the sunny weather and groomed terrain. Our outside decks have been packed with visitors eating at the grill, soaking up the rays and enjoying apres.”
She added that the bungee jump in Center Village is set-up and the tubing hill has been consistently busy.
Resort officials have their fingers crossed for this week’s weather disturbance to refresh the slopes before Colorado’s spring break hits.