Development focus of ski area COO luncheon
COPPER MOUNTAIN – From the highest lift in North America to new beginner terrain parks and superpipes, Summit County has a lot to look forward to in the upcoming winter season.COO’s from A-Basin, Copper Mountain and Keystone and Breckenridge each presented new amenities for their respective resorts at the annual Ski Area Chief Operating Officers Panel Luncheon held Friday morning at Copper Mountain.BreckenridgeConstruction of the Imperial Express SuperChair is on schedule and the high-speed quad will open this season, said Breckenridge and Keystone COO Roger McCarthy.The Imperial Express will be the highest lift in North America, stretching from 12,000 feet to 12,840 feet and feeding skiers into 400 acres of terrain on Peak 8 that was previously only accessibly by a 45-minute hike.Crews should finish pouring concrete on the project today or Monday, McCarthy said. He did not have an exact completion date.The other big project – the Skyway Skiway – which will link skiers from Peak 8 to the parking lots on Park Avenue, is “unlikely” to be finished this season, McCarthy said.The tunnel under Park Avenue is nearing completion, but the concrete has not been poured on the skier bridge across Ski Hill Road and the snowmaking pipe will not be installed this winter, McCarthy said.
The U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix will return to Breckenridge on Dec. 13 through 17. The contest is a qualifier for the 2006 Olympics in Turin. The resort plans a Nov. 11 opening date.KeystoneKeystone will continue to focus on the growing popularity of its terrain parks by expanding the beginner level Incubator Park. The park’s features will remain low-risk, although work will be done to expand and widen the park, which is located on Freda’s Way. After a successful inaugural year, 36 Hours of Keystone will return for a second year on Nov. 18 when the resort will remain open for 36 straight hours to kickoff opening day.”We thought, ‘Let’s see how this works’ and we had 15,000 people show up,” McCarthy said of the event’s first year. “We had no idea it was going to be this big.”Also returning this winter on Dec. 18 is the Winterfall Next Snow Search Qualifier, where kids ages 9 through 13 from around the U.S. converge on Keystone to vie for a spot for the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search. With that will come an hour of coverage on NBC during the first day of games of the winter Olympics.Arapahoe BasinArapahoe Basin hasn’t fired up its snow guns yet, but nevertheless, is looking forward to an Oct. 21 opening date, one day earlier than last year.
“Our goal is to be the first ski area to open and we’re poised and ready to go,” said COO Alan Henceroth.New for A-Basin this year is a Summit Stage route that will transport riders from Summit Cove to the ski area. The ski area has also added additional guns for its snowmaking operation and is aiming for a January 2006 opening date for its new rental/repair shop at the base.Snowriders will be able to get snacks and a bowl of soup at the new patrol headquarters and warming hut at the summit. The tiki bar, which was set up at the summit last year, will move to the base area.The Legend will also build a new Hi Divide beginner terrain park on the Sundance run.Events will continue to be a major spotlight at the Basin, including Sustainable Slopes Day, Beacon Bowl Avalanche Awareness Day, the Festival of the Brewpubs and the May concert series.Also this year, A-Basin passholders will be able to tap into 1,200 acres of terrain and 30 annual feet of snowfall at Bear Valley in California, a resort A-Basin owner Dundee Realty recently purchased.In its long-term master plan, A-Basin foresees providing lift access to Montezuma Bowl, realigning the Exhibition Lift, providing 300 new parking spaces and building a midway restaurant.Copper MountainThough the Gravity Games will not return to Copper Mountain this year, the resort still plans to carry on at least one of the components of the winter competition.
There’s interest in repeating the Frisco Main Street rail jam, which was held in conjunction with the Gravity Games, said COO Gary Rodgers, calling the jam “an awesome example of taking the mountain to the main street.”Copper will continue to work on its partnership with the town of Frisco, which was forged last season with a co-branded information center.One of the more noticeable changes at Copper this year will be a new superpipe at the base area, between the American Flyer and American Eagle lifts.”One of the lessons we learned out of the Gravity Games is our pipe at the bottom of the Catalyst Terrain Park, while used, was very hard to get to for spectators,” Rodgers said. The pipe should be open by Thanksgiving weekend.The resort will expand its snowcat service on Tucker Mountain, taking snowriders farther along the ridge to cut out some of the footwork currently required to access the expert-level terrain.The old Copper-owned Conoco gas station on Highway 91 will be replaced with a new retail center to house a Starbucks, Quizno’s and gas station in an effort to spruce up the entrance to the resort, Rodgers said. Copper continues to peer into the long-term and has revised its development plan, calling for 45 percent less density than originally proposed in a plan that was turned down by the Board of County Commissioners in July 2004. Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229, or at email@example.com
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