Inside look at the $1.7 billion deal that weds Aspen, Steamboat, Winter Park and Canadian Mountain heliskiing operation |

Inside look at the $1.7 billion deal that weds Aspen, Steamboat, Winter Park and Canadian Mountain heliskiing operation

More than 170 potential bidders lined up to buy Intrawest's stable of ski areas — revealing a growing appetite for destination resorts. Some were resort operators, but most of the suitors were financial firms and billionaires. It was a combination that won — a partnership that married a veteran operator with a financial player that pulled together the biggest deal in ski resort history. The operator, Aspen Skiing Co., really only wanted Winter Park, Steamboat and Intrawest's Canadian Mountain Holidays helicopter skiing operation. The Roaring Fork Valley resort owner offered as much as $1.129 billion for the three properties. The company also offered as much as $878 million in cash for just Winter Park and Steamboat. But Intrawest wanted to sell the entire company — six resorts in Canada, Colorado, Vermont and West Virginia, 1,113 acres of land, the 12-lodge CMH and a real estate business — in a single transaction. Read the full story on The Denver Post website.

Ski briefs: All five of Breckenridge’s peaks now open

With the debut of Peak 6 on Friday, Dec. 18, and Peak 10 on Saturday, Dec. 19, all five of Breckenridge Ski Resort's peaks are now open. Breckenridge presently has 1,589 acres of skiable terrain available for guests to enjoy — and just as peak season gets underway with the holidays. The snow continues to fall at a steady pace at Breck, which has received 2 feet in the past week, and has consistent snow changes in the forecast this week. Season-to-date, Breck has received more than 8½ feet of snow, 113 percent of the average for this time of year. Breckenridge requires all skiers and riders to observe all posted signs and warnings. Closed trails may contain hazards due to limited natural snow coverage and snowmaking operations. For safety reasons, please keep off closed trails and out of closed areas. For the latest terrain information, grooming reports and more, visit: Keystone basking in the white stuff Keystone Resort has already received more than 100 inches of snow this winter, including 22 inches just last week. The 8½-foot or so total of snow is the most early-season snowfall the resort has seen in a decade — ideal conditions for the resort's three peaks, offering 2,700 acres of terrain to its guests. Aside from skiing, Keystone offers a wide variety of mountain and fun winter activities. Those include ice skating, snow tubing, Kidtopia Play Park, scenic sleigh rides, free festive and holiday programming for families and the world's largest snow fort. Furthermore, for the fourth season, Keystone provides a kids ski free program, with no blackout dates. Families need only book two or more nights of lodging through Keystone for any child 12 or under to ski for free. The resort will provide its 100,000th complimentary children's lift ticket since the inception of the program in 2012 and will mark the occasion with its 100K Golden Ticket Celebration. From Jan. 24-30, Keystone will offer prizes, giveaways and special events during the weeklong party. And 10 lucky participants will receive a Keystone Golden Ticket, valued at $500 each. Finally, what's a holiday season without Santa? Mr. Claus will be on hand through Christmas Eve, before he embarks upon his prior obligations. There will be photo opportunities, story times, parades and ice skating. For more details on dates, locations and appearances, visit:

Copper Mountain Resort and Keystone employees honored by Colorado ski industry group

Two Summit County ski resort employees were honored recently for their work giving ski lessons and grooming slopes. Don Coleman, general manager of Copper Mountain Resort's Ski and Ride School, was named Ski Instructor of the Year by Colorado Ski Country USA, the nonprofit trade association that represents 21 resorts in the state. He was one of nine people recognized for their excellence and contributions to the industry at the organization's 51st annual meeting during the Double Diamond Awards at Copper Mountain Resort on Thursday, June 12. A ski industry veteran, Coleman was the director of instruction at Hidden Valley Ski Area in Estes Park, Colorado, at age 20 before he joined the staff at Copper. Recently, Coleman created an innovative new method of instruction for adult skiing and snowboarding lessons. Known as "Terrain Based Teaching," Coleman designed terrain features at Copper's dedicated Learn to Ski Area, with specialized instruction that proved popular from the first day of the 2013-14 season. Copper incorporated a mini-pipe, bank turns, a perfect-pitch slope and a funbox in its learning area. Coleman said he played around with terrain features at the Frisco Adventure Park about two years ago, inspired by what other resorts were doing back east, and incorporated them at Copper last winter. "It was like creating a playground," he said. "I felt like I was in Disneyland all winter." Every department at the resort helped in an amazing team effort, Coleman said, making lessons more comfortable and allowing students to use less energy so they could take more lessons. "We can actually turn them around and have them take their first runs facing the mountain," he said. "It's more of a thrill that's fun as opposed to a thrill that's panicky." According to a news release from the trade association, adult enrollment at Copper's Ski and Ride School increased 113 percent, and Copper saw percentage increases in guests receiving instruction for their first on-mountain experiences. By creating a popular new method of teaching beginners, Coleman raised the bar for effective skiing and snowboarding instruction. The association's Groomer of the Year award went to Napoleon Swyter of Keystone Resort. A 10-year veteran of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Swyter started as a full-time cat operator at Keystone, where he was voted as the rookie of the year. Swyter also has grooming experience at Coronet Peak in New Zealand. "In 2013, Napoleon brought his experience and enthusiasm back to Keystone and is working like he never left," said Pete Van Oosterhout, trail maintenance supervisor for Keystone, in a news release.

Resorts and Ski Areas

Arapahoe Basin, at 65, sure doesn’t act its age. The Legend, as it’s affectionately known , has the highest-in-the-nation terrain park and with the opening of Montezuma Bowl lots and lots of wide open spaces. Snowmaking and a higher summit elevation than most ski areas allow the area to open in October and keep going until June. If you’re a true local, you won’t miss spring and late-season skiing. OK, so sometimes people don’t even ski or ride; they just barbecue and party on coveted “beach” spots, or right in the middle of the muddy parking lot. Every weekend in May, a band plays outside at Shakin’ at the Basin events. The Basin still has a casual feel to it: You won’t find fancy condos and overpriced shops here. And, you don’t have to take a bus from the lot to the lift. The terrain, which is mostly above tree line, stands out. The bumped-up (and that’s bumped-up by good skiers, not posers who create horribly shaped mounds) Pallavicini is a playground for experts. Offshoots, such as the alleys, provide steep and narrow challenges. The East Wall usually opens later in the season. Peaking at more than 13,000 feet, the wall delivers steep faces and powder stashes for traversers and hikers. This year the Basin opened lift-served skiing in Montezuma Bowl. It increased the ski area’s terrain by 80 percent, with 400 acres of intermediate, advanced and expert runs, featuring cornices, chutes, glades and wide-open bowls. The Zuma Lift rises 1,100 vertical feet in its nine minute ride. Mountain Facts: Base elevation: 10,780 feet Summit elevation: 13,050 feet Vertical drop: 2,270 feet Skiable acres: 900 Longest run: 1.5 miles Terrain: 10% beginner; 30% intermediate; 37% advanced; 20% expert Number of lifts: 7 Number of trails: 105 Average snowfall: 350 inches Website: So many peaks … By the numbers, Breckenridge is Summit’s largest ski area. Vertical drop, number of trails, number of lifts ” everything about Breck is big. In December 2006, the resort added a gondola so people can avoid bus rides. Cabins sweep guests from the parking lot to base areas at Peaks 7 and 8. Last season, the resort opened 150 acres between Peaks 8 and 9, which gives skiers access to seven ungroomed steep chutes. It brings the total accessible acreage off of Imperial Express ” the highest chairlift in North America ” from 400 to 550 acres. And the terrain will be similar to the nearby Lake Chutes ” nice and ungroomed, and steep. Besides advanced terrain and wide-open, usually soft-snow skiing in Horseshoe and Imperial bowls, Breck has plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain. The Independence Super Chair serves a half-dozen intermediate cruisers, and Peaks 8, 9 and 10 offer their fair share of groomed slopes, though Peak 10’s border on advanced runs. Five terrain parks gave Breck the edge for Transworld Magazine to name it as making the pipe best in 2006. Mountain Facts: Base elevation: 9,600 feet Summit elevation: 12,998 feet Vertical drop: 3,398 feet Skiable acres: 2,358 Longest run: 3.5 miles Terrain: 14% beginner; 31% intermediate; 19% advanced; 36% expert. Number of lifts: 29 Number of trails: 147 Average snowfall: 300 inches Website: Ask most locals, and they’ll say Copper Mountain ranks as a favorite for skiing and riding. The mountain’s layout tends to keep skiers of different levels separate, so beginners don’t have to deal with experts zooming past them. Easier green runs are located at Union Creek, and blues sprawl throughout the middle of the hill. Advanced bumps and great bowls lie above it all, and black terrain also is tucked away into corners off of Resolution, S- and B-lifts. A snowcat motors skiers and riders to Tucker Mountain, where it’s a 15 to 20 minute hike to drop into one of the mountain’s steep chutes. Last year, the resort expanded its cat skiing operation, which means less hiking to the eight double-black diamond slopes. Even if you don’t take the cat, the chairlift-served back bowls provide plenty of acreage. Copper caters to jibbers and jumpers with its terrain parks. Its graduated series of kickers, quarter-pipes and halfpipes, along with Kidz Terrain Park full of mini rails, pipes and jumps, give anyone the opportunity to learn. When Intrawest bought Copper in 1999, it revitalized the resort and added Burning Stones Plaza. The village now ignites with activities, entertainment and festivals year-round (and we’re not talking the usual apres ski songs; we’re talking fire dancers, circus acts and outdoor movies). Mountain Facts: Base elevation: 9,712 feet Summit elevation: 12,313 feet Vertical drop: 2,601 feet Skiable acres: 2,433 Terrain: 21% beginner; 24% intermediate; 36% advanced; 18% expert Number of lifts: 22 Number of trails: 125 Average snowfall: 280 inches Website: Keystone’s buzzword in the last couple of years has been “evolution.” It has blended its family-friendly atmosphere with bars and events geared more toward Gen. Xers, and it seems to have found a winning combination. It kicks off the season with a 36-hour marathon, where teams of two to four ski around the clock, then enter a drawing for $3,600. The enormous Area 51 Terrain Park is Colorado’s largest night park. And the A-51 chair takes riders up in five minutes. Cat skiing with Keystone Adventure Tours delivers guests to untouched powder when conditions warrant, and when they don’t, the snow’s usually pretty nice anyway. Keystone added both guided and unguided bowl skiing in 278 acres of terrain at the upper Jones Gulch area, near its existing snowcat-served terrain. It offers pitches approaching a 50 percent grade and amounts to a total of 858 acres of snowcat skiing. And the same terrain that always had made Keystone’s three peaks ” Dercum Mountain, North Peak and the Outback ” so much fun continues to be the resort’s biggest draw. Powder hounds love tree skiing in the Outback, and bumps on North Peak will make your thighs burn. Smooth fall-line runs on the front side provide some of the most consistent intermediate skiing in the county. And did we mention it’s the only resort in Summit to offer long runs with fun whip-de-dos at night? Keystone Village also has plenty to keep non-skiers, or those with enormous energy, busy. Try skating on the picturesque lake, or check out the sleigh rides, tubing or snowbiking. And don’t miss the amazing chocolate village, complete with a chocolate waterfall and railroads, in the village hotel during the holidays. Mountain Facts: Base elevation: 9,280 feet Summit elevation: 12,408 feet Vertical drop: 3,128 feet Skiable acres: 3,148 Longest run: 3.5 miles Terrain: 19% beginner; 32% intermediate; 49% advanced Number of lifts: 20 Number of trails: 135 Average snowfall: 230 inches Website:

Mountain resort projects on the rise after lengthy hiatus

DENVER — Big High Country construction projects are emerging from a nearly six-year hibernation. Investors are freeing the flow of cash. Buyers are stepping up. And in Breckenridge, Vail and the Roaring Fork Valley, large-scale condominium and hotel projects in limbo during the recession finally are sprouting. From the wealthy enclaves of Aspen to the community-centric Basalt and middle-market affordability of Silverthorne, fractional residences and hotels are under construction for the first time since 2008. "It feels like we have been asleep for a while, hasn't it?" said Ed Mace, a hotel veteran whose Denver-based Silverwest Hotel Partners is backing an environmentally friendly, 113-room Westin Element hotel in the Willits neighborhood of Basalt and a Hampton Inn in Silverthorne. The hotel industry is thriving nationwide, with climbing revenues and occupancies. A rush of new projects in Colorado mountain resort towns, which slid into the recession a bit later than most urban areas, are starting to make up for roughly six years of construction silence. Development is more tempered this time around. Projects seem less glitzy, with the common theme of value evident in each development, whether targeted toward wealthy downtown Aspen buyers or budget-minded travelers. The redevelopment of the tired Lionshead Inn in Vail, known as Strata, is one of the biggest construction projects underway in Vail with a mix of wholly owned and timeshare units above street-level commercial space. The Strata project was approved in 2009, but recession-triggered delays stalled construction until earlier this year. The under-construction slopeside Grand Colorado on Peak 8 in Breckenridge is the fourth timeshare lodge by Breckenridge Grand Vacations. With its 114-unit Grand Lodge on Peak 7 nearly sold out, the company with 20,000 buyers since 1985 is developing another 75 residences for shared ownership. Breckenridge Grand Vacations, a national leader in the timeshare industry, weathered the economic downturn well, the company's marketing chief, Ginny Vietti, said. The company posted about $35 million of sales in 2007 and reached $65 million last year, she said. The unprecedented decline in resort real estate values from 2009 through 2011 rocked the long-held notion that a Colorado ski resort property was a solid investment. "The whole ownership proposition became questionable, especially as a lot of people lost a lot of money on slope-side condos," Vietti said. "People are recognizing the value in shared ownership, even with the turn-around in real estate." Sunrise, with Oaktree Capital Management, pulled the Dancing Bear project in Aspen out of bankruptcy in 2012 and recently acquired a hotel property for another fractional development in the Snowmass Village base area, which has languished with a half-finished base village since 2008.

Today’s top five things to do in Summit County

Agent Orange Breckenridge, Jan. 28 9 p.m., Three 20 South, 320 S. Main Street, Breckenridge. Named after the chemical defoliant so chillingly used by the USA in the Vietnam War, Agent Orange were one of a number of bands formed in the highly active 'So-Cal' hardcore scene of Fullerton, Orange County, comprised Mike Palm (vocals, guitar), Steve 'Soto' Rodgers (bass) and Scott Miller (drums). However, Rodgers left early in their development to form another local punk attraction, the Adolescents. His replacement was James Levesque. Strange but True Breckenridge, Jan. 28 & 29 5 p.m., Two Wild Sisters, 100 N. Main St. #113, Breckenridge. Ir's all about disappearances, suspected kidnappings and other strange tragedies. They are all true stories with a twist. Call: (970) 343=9169, Gail Westwood 50 + Ski With Us Breckenridge, Jan. 28 8:30 a.m., Breckenridge Ski Resort, Peak 8 Base Area, T- Bar Restaurant, 1599 Ski Hill Rd., Breckenridge. 50 + Ski With Us is a complimentary guided ski and snowboard program for all Breck guests ages 50 and over. Explore Breck's vast and varied terrain while enjoying a social day with fellow local and visiting seniors. Guests of intermediate ability levels and higher are welcome. We meet every Tuesday through March at 8:30 a.m. at the T-Bar Restaurant in the Peak 8 Base Area of Breckenridge Ski Resort. USSA NorAm Hole Shot Copper Mountain, Jan. 28 The Hole Shot Cross Tour is a competition designed to bridge the gap between grassroots and world cup level for Snowboardcross and Skicross. The event also brings together athletes across the country to identify the top juniors in the country. Athletes 15 (SBX)/ 16 (SX) and older compete together in an open-class style event. The top juniors will be named to U.S. Snowboarding's and U.S. Freeskiing Project Gold, a group of the top development athletes in the country who will train together in the summer and are invited to other select projects. Athletes also qualify for Junior World Championships and World Cup events from the Hole Shot Tour. Athletes must have a current National USSA license and FIS license prior to registering for the event. USSA or FIS memberships may not be purchased onsite; memberships must be purchased at least two weeks prior to the event. Daily Group Nordic Ski Lessons Breckenridge, every day 10 a.m., Gold Run Nordic Center, 200 Clubhouse Dr., Breckenridge. Lessons are offered daily at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Lessons last 1-1.5 hours. Classic or skate lessons are available; beginner to advanced levels. Lessons cost $45 per person and additional persons within the same party are $35. Complimentary trail pass is included, rentals are available for half price. Reservations are highly recommended. Walk-ins are welcome based on instructor availability. Please call (970) 547-7889 for reservations. To view a full listing of today's events visit

Breckenridge opens new Peak 7 terrain

BRECKENRIDGE – Almost 200 people waited in line for Santa Friday morning. But it wasn’t the usual line of kids waiting to whisper their Christmas wish lists in his ear. This was a line of skiers and snowboarders anxious to climb aboard the new Independence SuperChair during the grand opening of new terrain on Peak 7 at Breckenridge. The Rocky Mountain SuperChair opened at 8:15 a.m. Friday, to allow skiers, boarders and revelers to arrive at the base of Peak 7 in time for the grand opening ceremony. The festivities began upon the arrival of a slightly slimmer than normal Santa Claus, who arrived on his snowboard trailed by a group of 30 ski instructors clad in stocking caps. Tony Wilson of Breckenridge was among the first in line for the new Independence chair. “(I) just want to be the first to inaugurate the new chair,” he said, waiting for the lift to begin running. Rhonda Profaizer of Breckenridge was more interested in fresh snow than being the first to ride the chair. “We want powder!” she said, adding she was excited about the new terrain because it would help “alleviate the crowds.” The Independence SuperChair is one of two new chairlifts at Breckenridge this year. The Independence and the Peak 8 SuperConnect, part of $12 million in capital improvements at the ski area this season, are the only lifts built in Colorado this year and two of 12 in North America. The six-passenger, high-speed Independence includes 113 chairs and takes passengers to the top of the mountain in about seven minutes. It opens up 165 acres of intermediate terrain, including seven new trails. The expansion adds 30 percent more intermediate terrain to Breckenridge’s menu and brings the total acreage to 2,208. “We’re celebrating Christmas early here in Breckenridge,” said Roger McCarthy, chief operating officer (CEO) of Breckenridge Ski Resort. The new terrain “is a significant development for our resort because 60 percent of our guests are intermediate skiers.” Vail Resorts CEO Adam Aaron, Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula and Rick Cables, regional forester for the Forest Service, joined McCarthy for the ribbon-cutting ceremony while those in the lift line hollered impatiently for the lift to open. The expansion wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation between Vail Resorts, the Forest Service and the town of Breckenridge, McCarthy said. “Hopefully, this partnership will last a long time,” Mamula said. The Independence lift was named after the original name for the town of Breckenridge, and the new trails – Angel’s Rest, Monte Cristo, Fort Mary B., Swan City, Lincoln Meadows, Pioneer and Wirepatch – to represent the mining integral to the area’s history. ——– Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

Summit County ski areas set to start 2017 with a week of fresh snow

A snowy December has helped Summit County ski areas rebound from a slow start to the season that forced Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone Resort to postpone their opening days by one week in mid-November. Forecasts now indicate that early January will be snowy as well, with a weather system moving in that is expected to bring consistent snowfall until as late as Jan. 10. A cold weather system will begin moving into the High Rockies on Monday afternoon, followed by an even colder surge of arctic air on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, which predicts sub-zero nighttime temperatures throughout the coming week. The snow is expected to start falling on Monday and continue all week. Joel Gratz, a meteorologist with the forecasting website, said that snow could potentially fall almost every day through Jan. 10, although in a report he cautioned that the forecast was still highly uncertain. "Subtle changes in the wind direction, the location of the cold front, the position of the jet stream, and the location and speed of the upper-level energy will make a big difference in the forecast, and there is still no consistency in the forecasts of these features," he wrote in a web post. The highest snow accumulations are expected on Wednesday. Open Snow is predicting that 2 to 4 inches of snow will fall during the day at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Wednesday, with 3 to 5 expected at Copper Mountain Resort. Projections from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) also indicate that the heaviest snow will come in the middle of the week. "I think there's a lot of confidence that this is going to be a very heavy snow week, but predicting where and when the big snows are going to be is difficult," said CAIC deputy director Brian Lazar. "There aren't going to be big wallops, but we do expect to get 3 to 6 inches every day until the end of the week." The snow that persisted leading up to the holiday season was a blessing for local ski areas. During October and November, snowpack depths were hovering around 30 percent compared to last season, but the strong December showing has closed the gap. As of Jan. 1, Arapahoe Basin's snowpack was 117 percent of last season's, while Keystone's stood at 113 percent. Copper Mountain and Breckenridge currently have 100 and 99 percent of the snowpack they had last year. The coming week of snowfall could be what local ski areas need to open up their remaining terrain. The county's resorts currently have between 84 and 95 percent of their skiable acreage open. Breckenridge currently has the highest percentage open, and 34 of its 35 chair lifts are currently running. In the backcountry, meanwhile, CAIC cautions that avalanche conditions are trending toward higher risk of deep persistent slab (DPS) slides, which are low probability but are extremely destructive when triggered. "The early season snow in October and early November was exposed to very cold, dry temperatures, which changed it to very weak, sugary grains that don't provide a strong base," explained Lazar. "If the forecasting pays out as anticipated, it will be enough to increase the danger of avalanches, and we still have weak, persistent layers that will be loaded." CAIC currently classifies avalanche danger in the Summit County area as moderate, but Lazar said the coming snowfall will likely change that. Because DPS avalanches are so destructive, the center advises checking forecasts after new snowfall and staying away from slopes that are more likely to have large avalanches. Over the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons, only 5 percent of recorded avalanches were DPS slides, but they accounted for 42 percent of all fatalities over that period. "It's certainly trending (toward deep persistent slides)" said Lazar. "Prior to the snow coming this week, the past two weeks lowered avalanche danger, making them harder to trigger. But that means the avalanches that do go are bigger."

Skiing Windows at Breckenridge Ski Resort

BRECKENRIDGE”Check out a helmet cam video from Wednesday morning on the Windows run at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Click the link under “web extras” to watch.

Thanks Breckenridge Ski Resort

The Mountain Top Children’s Museum Inc., would like to thank the Breckenridge Ski Resort for its continuous support of our nonprofit, including the following: n A charitable donation of one-fourth of opening day proceeds n A donation of the Peak 8 Kid’s Kastle for the last two summers to hold the Museum Day Camp programs. n A donation of space in the Village at Breckenridge – a place to call home for our Wild Things exhibit. Thank you to all who have helped the museum become a permanent part of the town of Breckenridge and Summit County. Laura Pietro Mountain Top Children’s Museum