Vail race training expansion plan set for final public Forest Service hearing | SummitDaily.com

Vail race training expansion plan set for final public Forest Service hearing

Randy Wyrick
rwyrick@vaildaily.com

A plan to expand training areas on Vail's Golden Peak will have what could be its last public hearing Tuesday, April 10 at the Forest Service District Office in Minturn. The proposal calls for 42 additional acres of terrain and other infrastructure.

MINTURN — A plan to add 42 acres of race training area to Golden Peak could also add to the number of local Olympians, supporters say.

The U.S. Forest Service will accept online and mailed comments on the plan through May 25.

"The Golden Peak Improvements Project is consistent with the Vail Mountain Master Development Plan and would occur within the resort's existing Special Use Permit area," Marcia Gilles, deputy district ranger said.

Long history of support

Vail has been hosting international ski race training since 1963, when Dick Hauserman and Bob Beattie brought the U.S. Ski Team and national teams to town.

The proposal for Golden Peak was introduced a year ago, and Forest Service officials say much of the comments they have received has been positive. Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is a big supporter.

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"The expansion of the training and competition arena on Golden Peak would provide a tremendous benefit to local athletes and their families," said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail executive director Kirk Dwyer. "The number of athletes at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has grown dramatically over the years, and there is an acute need for additional training space. By accessing the higher elevations, as proposed by the expansion project, local athletes would be able to train on snow earlier in the fall and later into the spring. This benefit would allow families to forgo costly camp fees and travel expenses associated with early and late-season training, and it would provide young student-athletes more time in the classroom."

There's also a local economic benefit, Dwyer said. Snowmaking on Golden Peak was upgraded a decade ago, and that has attracted hundreds of international athletes and team personnel to train in Vail every autumn.

"With this expanded terrain, Vail Mountain would be able to host even more visiting teams on both ends of the winter season, which are typically slow business periods in the Vail Valley," Dwyer said.

Not all that glitters is Golden Peak

The Vail Homeowners Association — which declined an interview request for this story — has previously expressed reservations about the plan.

"If approved, then it will convert Golden Peak into an international level ski venue with year-long racing and training that, if not managed correctly, and if appropriate mitigation procedures are not adopted as a condition of approval, then it could have effects beyond the immediate project area," the association wrote in a Vail Daily opinion piece. The association called the 42 acres that would be cleared "pristine" and added it would clear 80 percent of the forest on Golden Peak.

"This is the first time that such conditions will be faced on Vail Mountain," the association said.

The VHA said additional snowmaking could saturate the soil, and asked for "a well thought-out mitigation plan, covering the entire length of the new facility."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

Golden Peak Proposal

The Golden Peak proposal includes:

• One surface lift (T-bar or similar design)

• Approximately 42 acres of new ski trails for women’s downhill and men’s super G courses, a moguls course and skier cross course

• Various maintenance and storage facilities

• Infrastructure to support snowmaking

• An access road for construction

• Staging areas and logging decks for construction materials and timber and vegetation removal

• Surface smoothing/grading for new ski trails and drainage management.

• The projects are part of Vail Resorts existing permit area, and would be consistent with the ski company’s 2007 master development plan update, the Forest Service said in a statement.

Source: United States Forest Service