What’s new at Colorado ski resorts
December 23, 2015
Local ski areas spend millions annually on upgrades, though this year's changes might not be as obvious to Summit County skiers and snowboarders.
In 2014-15, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area's $2.3 million kids center became the fourth building in its base area, Breckenridge Ski Resort put in a higher-capacity Colorado Superchair and Loveland Ski Area constructed an on-mountain cabin.
In contrast, Breckenridge COO John Buhler told hundreds gathered at the 21st annual COO Breakfast in October, "We didn't build. We didn't add on."
There weren't even new bathrooms to tout, he joked.
Breck and Keystone Resort's parent company, Vail Resorts, is focused on Utah this year as it integrates the resort formerly known as Canyons into one unified Park City.
But the upgrades at the five local ski areas are more than just freshly painted chairlift poles. Summit ski area visitors can expect remodeled buildings, more snowmaking and handy new smartphone app features for the 2015-16 winter season.
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BRECKENRIDGE SKI RESORT
Breckenridge invested in the skier and snowboarder experience on Peak 6, a terrain expansion entering its third season. The resort added 1 mile of new snowmaking pipes on the Lost Horizon and Barton Breezeway trails — lower-mountain terrain critical for opening Peak 6 in the early season — and the ski area widened the Monte Cristo trail to double the width of the run that connects Peak 6 to Peak 7 and funnels skiers back to the base areas.
The ski area also upgraded its haul ropes, the cables that carry chairs on a lift, on the Rocky Mountain, 5 Chair and Snowflake lifts.
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA
Arapahoe Basin put $500,000 into turning its ticket office into a guest services center. The space formerly used for kids snowsports lessons will be part of the expanded season pass and ticket office, and the ski area will establish a dedicated call center to handle snowsports reservations and questions over the phone.
A-Basin also will be able to expand its music offerings in winter and summer with a new stage and music venue on the ticket office steps.
Action on the 400-acre expansion in a backcountry area within the ski area's permit known as the Beavers is taking longer than expected after A-Basin removed snowmaking and a two-stage zipline from its proposal to the U.S. Forest Service.
COPPER MOUNTAIN RESORT
Copper will have several new food and beverage options for 2015-16, including a Starbucks Coffee in Center Village on the first floor of the Mountain Plaza building next to the American Eagle lift. Also in Center Village, Mahi Fish Tacos will specialize in different kinds of fish, salads and quesadillas.
Skiers and riders will be able to enjoy grab-and-go Belgian waffles and coffee on the mountain this year as Belgian Bean is moving to the location formerly known as Flyer's Soup Shack just below the top of the American Flyer lift.
The Tucker Lift expansion project is still going through the approval process and won't happen for this season. The resort plans to build a lift up Tucker Mountain to provide access to the terrain now served by snowcat. The snowcat operation would then move to the backside of Tucker Mountain.
Keystone spent nearly $2 million on repairs and upgrades to the resort's snowmaking system, including the replacement of a primary water supply pump and changes to key electrical systems.
In October, the Keystone Lodge and Spa was remodeled with re-carpeted hallways, replaced woodwork and doors, and new pillows and linens.
LOVELAND SKI AREA
THOUGH LOVELAND ISN'T technically in Summit, it's just over the Continental Divide, and many Summit folks call it home.
Loveland Ski Area will re-align Chair 2, the main chairlift at the base of Loveland Basin. The original chairlift will be shortened to drop skiers and snowboarders off at the base of Chair 6. The new upper section, called Ptarmigan Lift, will serve the Bennett's Bowl and Ptarmigan Roost areas, and its construction used a K-MAX helicopter this summer.
Loveland also remodeled its website, http://www.skiloveland.com.
In neighboring Eagle County, Vail Mountain is upgrading its Avanti Express Lift, known as Chair 2. The centrally located four-passenger chairlift will become a six-passenger, similar to the Colorado SuperChair upgrade at Breckenridge.
The front-side lift has long been a major hub for Vail skiers and riders above the Lionshead base area, and the upgrade is expected to reduce wait times and improve reliability. A loading conveyor and gates will increase skier circulation and passenger capacity by up to 30 percent.
Beaver Creek will add to its snowmaking fleet this year by equipping the Red Tail and Centennial trails, two popular intermediate runs, with 23 fan guns.
In Summit County, Utah, the plan to combine Park City and Canyons Resort into the largest ski resort in the U.S. includes an eight-passenger Quicksilver gondola, which will transport people from the base of the Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons.
The merger also means a new 500-seat restaurant, lifts and restaurants upgrades, new and widened trails and more snowmaking. Vail Resorts investments in ski area upgrades for the 2015-16 season total $110 million.
COPPER'S SHERPA APP, which tracks users' runs, speed and vertical feet, will now offer trail recommendations based on skiing and riding history and habits. App users can designate if they want the optional suggestions sent via in-app notifications, email or both and at what time of day.
Vail Resorts' Epic Mix app will feature an addition this year that allows skiers and riders to view real-time chairlift wait times and plan their mountain navigation accordingly. The feature will be rolled out across 55 core chairlifts and gondolas at the company's four Colorado resorts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
About upgrades at other Colorado resorts, visit ColoradoSki.com, the online home of the state's ski area trade association, Colorado Ski Country USA.
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