As the Australian ski season comes to a close, Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA) prepares for its biggest season yet. To share what’s new at its 24 member ski areas, CSCUSA president and CEO, Melanie Mills, met with Sydney media over lunch at Rockpool Bar & Grill (Neil Perry being a fan of CSCUSA member, Aspen Snowmass). Australians are Colorado’s leading inbound international market, particularly attracted to the state’s vast array of snow terrain, guaranteeing “a mountain for everyone”.
Accompanying Mills on the Australian roadshow were Jeff Hanle, VP Communications, Aspen Snowmass; Tom Watkinson, Director of Communications, Telluride; Taylor Prather, PR Manager, Copper Mountain Resort; Loryn Karsten, Senior Communications Manager, Steamboat; Steve Hurlbert, Director of PR & Communications, Winter Park; and Flip Byrnes, Australia-based PR Manager for Aspen Skiing Company.
Over a convivial three-course lunch, guests learned about the latest developments taking place for the coming season. Some of the highlights include the development of Snowmass Base Village at Aspen Snowmass; two new chairlifts at Copper (including one chair-gondola hybrid); the upgrade of beginners’ area, The Meadows, at Telluride; a much-awaited 10-person gondola at Winter Park; and the debut of the Taco Beast – a roaming, on-mountain snowcat dishing up Mexican fare – at Steamboat.
Here is the full list of planned developments for CSCUSA member ski areas:
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area
For the 2018-19 season, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will fully open its 468-acre (189-hectare) terrain expansion into the Beavers and the Steep Gullies, including the new four-person Beavers chairlift. A-Basin opened approximately 371 acres (150 hectares) of terrain last season to give a “preview” to excited skiers and riders. This summer, A-Basin operations crews constructed an additional 97 acres (39 hectares) of tree skiing (glades) and continued to improve the rest of the terrain with grading, glading and installation of the chairlift and picnic areas. Terrain in The Beavers will include two new intermediate groomed runs in the 2018-19 season, allowing more skiers and riders to enjoy this scenic, north- and west-facing terrain. The Steep Gullies are approximately 91 acres (36 hectares) of extreme (double-black diamond), steep, couloir skiing. These runs will remain hike-back for the true advanced skier or snowboarder looking for some of the most challenging terrain in Colorado.
Aspen Skiing Company is well underway on the Snowmass Base Village Development, a US$600 million mountain-resort development that will add lodging, residences and amenities over 10 years. The first phase of development includes the new Limelight Hotel Snowmass, a ski-in, ski-out hotel adjacent to Snowmass Mountain’s Elk Camp Gondola that will feature 99 hotel rooms and 11 for-sale condominiums, plus a new restaurant, a children’s game area and a five-story climbing wall. The Snowmass Base Village will also welcome a central public events plaza to serve as the community’s gathering space with an ice-skating rink, fire pits, children’s pop-up fountains and other community amenities this winter. At Buttermilk families and children can enjoy Fort Frog, a new wooden, frontier-style fort with lookout towers, a jail, snowball launcher and swinging bridge. This is a great option for skiing and non-skiing families alike. Also new for the 2018-19 season, The Aspen Snowmass App will receive an upgrade to provide rewards and enhanced functioning of year-over-year stats and tracking, allowing families, skiers and non-skiers to track on-mountain movements. All Aspen Snowmass food and beverage outlets will go straw free.
Cooper’s new Moonlight Mountaintop Yurt dinner series at the Ridgeview Café features a ride to the mountaintop after hours in a warm, cosy snowcat in the light of the full moon. This event is perfect for a special gathering with four dates during the 2018-19 season and includes delicious flame-grilled salmon, stuffed portabello mushrooms and New York strip steaks.
For the 2018-19 season, Copper Mountain will debut the new American Flyer and American Eagle chairlifts out of Copper’s Center Village. The American Flyer will now be a high-speed six-person chair with bubble enclosures to protect from wind and cold, the only active bubble chair in Colorado. The American Eagle will be a high-speed combination lift that features both six-person chairs and eight-person gondola cabins. Both will significantly increase uphill access from the base area and reduce wait times. Copper Mountain will also debut a new base area restaurant, Downhill Duke’s. Named after a beloved dog, Downhill Duke’s will welcome guests and their four-legged friends to unbuckle their boots, take in some sun and enjoy lunch or après cocktails on the south-facing patio.
Echo Mountain Resort
Echo will kick off the 2018-19 season with a new tubing hill serviced by a covered conveyor lift offering family-friendly fun for skiers and those who just want to play in the snow. Echo will also expand the beginner learning area, increase snowmaking capacity and offer RFID access gates for direct-to-lift access on several ticket and pass options. Echo will also continue to offer and expand its Ambassador coaching program included in a day lift ticket purchase. As part of the program, employees are available throughout the mountain to offer tips and suggestions to help guests who are learning or looking to progress their ski or snowboard skills.
A year after installing the Alpenglow high-speed six-person chairlift, Eldora’s first-ever high-speed lift, the ski area will make another leap into the future this season with RFID pass technology. New glading projects and upgrades to Eldora’s electrical and communication systems will give guests more reasons to smile, as will more frequent early-season and mid-week events and activities.
During the 2018-19 season, Granby Ranch will offer groups the opportunity to rent Granby Ranch’s East Mountain for the evening. Guests will have full access to the East Mountain night skiing terrain from 5pm to 9pm in a unique option for groups to highlight a special occasion or host a private event.
New for the 2018-19 season, Kendall Mountain will offer a natural ice-skating experience with pond skating. Kendall’s pond just south of the ski lodge offers stellar views of the rugged San Juan Mountains. The ski area will offer night-time skating events on the pond throughout the winter season featuring a DJ, bonfire, hot cocoa, stargazing and lots of family-friendly fun.
Loveland Ski Area
For the 2018-19 season, Loveland Ski Area will unveil the largest single capital improvement project in the ski area’s history with the installation of a new lift, Chet’s Dream. Chet’s Dream will be the first high-speed quad in Loveland’s history and is named after the ski area’s longtime owner, Chet Upham Jr.
Monarch Mountain will debut a brand-new tubing park for the 2018-19 season, expanding offerings for visiting families with both skiers and non-skiers in the group. Monarch will also improve the guest experience with new gladed tree skiing, upgraded Wi-Fi, chip readers at all sales terminals, self-order kiosks in the Gunbarrel Cafeteria and hand-held order-taking technology.
Powderhorn Resort’s 2018-19 season will feature Mission: Affordable, a new steeply discounted season pass program with discounts and special programs for first-timers and beginners.
Purgatory Resort Purgatory Resort will offer year-round access to the Inferno Mountain Coaster, a new gravity-fed ride that will zip through aspen groves revealing incredible views of the San Juan mountains. A great option for families with non-skiers or those seeking a break from the slopes, the Inferno Mountain Coaster is almost a mile (1.6 kilometres) long, including 300 feet (90 metres) of vertical drop, nine switchbacks and speeds of up to 25 miles (40 kilometres) per hour. Brand-new for the 2018-19 season, Purgatory Resort will offer a free season pass for all children in Fourth Grade or younger, with no blackout dates and no parent purchase required.
Silverton Mountain will begin the 2018-19 season on 24 November with brand-new heli-skiing terrain, “Zone 8”, which features diverse high-alpine terrain and great early-season snow. Silverton will also expand its Unguided Season Pass offer to include a 150% increase in available ski days to the unguided season, 45 free days at partner ski resorts and a $39 heli-drop.
Steamboat Resort will feature two new dining experiences for the 2018-19 season. Timber & Torch, a new base area restaurant and bar experience, will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring a new outdoor heated patio, two indoor/outdoor bars, an exterior fireplace and a new outdoor barbecue. The Taco Beast, a unique new on-mountain, roaming snowcat, will serve carne asada and al pastor trail tacos with trailside service in both winter and summer seasons. Learn more about Steamboat and its famous Champagne Powder Snow.
Sunlight Mountain Resort
Sunlight Mountain Resort will honour the effort and sacrifice of firefighters and first responders by launching Firefighter Fun Days for the 2018-19 season. The ski area will offer free skiing and riding to all active firefighters and first responders each Wednesday of Sunlight’s 2018-19 season. Also new for the 2018-19 season, Sunlight will open the Compass Mountain Grill, an on-mountain food stand for walk-up skiers and riders to refuel at the top of Sunlight.
Telluride Ski Resort
The Meadows, Telluride’s popular beginner area, will be upgraded into a world-class learning facility for the 2018-19 season. The Meadows will feature a newly installed 320-foot (97-metre) covered surface lift and a significant investment in a terrain-based learning program. Telluride skiers and riders will also find an expanded grooming fleet to enhance the groomed terrain across the resort, as Telluride continues its multi-year, multi-million-dollar venture in snowmaking upgrades and technology to improve efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. Telluride is also developing a consumer app that will be available for download in November 2018 and will include features such as up-to-the-minute lift status information, snow reporting, trail status, an interactive trail map, push notifications and more.
Winter Park Resort
New for the 2018-19 season, Winter Park Resort will feature a new 10-person gondola, the resort’s first new on-mountain lift installation since 2007, reducing wait times by 15 minutes during peak season. The gondola will serve a new daily Mountaintop Sunset Après at the Lodge at Sunspot from 2.30pm to 5.30pm, with live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Foot passengers can ride for free without a lift ticket beginning at 2.30pm each day.
Winter Park will also upgrade its snowmaking system with the addition of new energy efficient compressors, pipe replacement and new high-tech snow guns. A Zephyr Plaza upgrade in the Winter Park Village will create a free-flowing plaza with stage area, fire pits and sun deck for general gathering and small events and concerts. The Winter Park Express train service from Denver to Winter Park will also return for a third season with additional Fridays added as well as a lounge car for food and beverages.
Wolf Creek Ski Area
Wolf Creek Ski Area will open for the 2018-19 season with the new high-speed, detachable quad Charity Chairlift. The 10th lift in Wolf Creek’s current lift system, the Charity lift will be named after Charity Jane Pitcher, previous owner of Wolf Creek Ski Area. The Charity Lift will be the third chairlift in the spacious 900-acre (364-hectare), Alberta area. Fifty-five acres (22 hectares) of previously underutilised terrain will now be available to beginner and intermediate skiers. Guests can also enjoy a new on-mountain grill. The Alberta Grill will offer a south of the border-themed menu and more traditional grilled items. Wolf Creek will also implement and launch a new point-of-sale system in rentals, retail and all restaurants mountain wide for the 2018-19 season.
Images © Telluride Ski Resort, courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA