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Home Things to Do Winter Fun Colorado's Winter Resorts Get Ready for New Ski, Snowboard Season: Part One

Colorado's Winter Resorts Get Ready for New Ski, Snowboard Season: Part One

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Labor Day weekend traditionally ends the summer season, so that means time to start planning getaways for the 2010-11 ski and snowboard season.

Several of Colorado Ski Country USA's (CSCUSA) 22 member resorts are conducting major investments to improve the guest skiing and snowboarding experience. Resorts are adding new lifts, updating lodging and base areas, improving park and pipe profiles, and expanding into new terrain.

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In this three-part series we detail those resorts with major upgrades and new features for ski and snowboard fans. In Part One, we detail goings-on at
Arapahoe Basin, Aspen/Snowmass, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, and Echo Mountain.

Arapahoe Basin

During the summer, A-Basin Ski Area began construction on Black Mountain Express, a new detachable quad chairlift that is scheduled to be up and running for the 2010-11 ski season. The new $4 million lift will replace the Exhibition fixed grip triple chair located in the base area, which was installed in 1978.

Black Mountain Express will have a capacity of 2,000 visitors per hour, a length of 2,877 feet and have a vertical rise of 719 feet. The ride time will be just under three minutes, half the time of the current lift ride from base area to mid-mountain.

The top terminal of the new lift will be slightly realigned uphill and to the west away from Black Mountain Lodge. The lower terminal will remain in the same location.

The Colorado-based lift manufacturer Leitner-Poma is contracted for the project. The new detachable lift will enable beginner and intermediate guests to load and unload more easily, resulting in fewer stops and starts on the ride to mid-mountain.

In addition, with the new quad chairlift, Black Mountain Lodge will be more accessible for weddings and special events, such as A-Basin's popular Full Moon Dinners at the Black Mountain Lodge.

Aspen/Snowmass

With more than $138 million invested in on-mountain improvements over the past seven seasons, Aspen/Snowmass is able to provide guests with a seamless skiing/riding experience.

Improvements over that period include 11 new lifts, including two gondolas, the Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center, three new restaurants, additional terrain, plus the new Snowmass Base Village. Highlights of improvements for 2010-11 include:

New 12-foot Halfpipe in Snowmass

Aspen/Snowmass is well-known for its 22-foot Olympic-sized superpipe at Buttermilk, voted Best Pipe in the Land by readers of Transworld Snowboarding and home of the ESPN Winter X-Games.

The 18-foot superpipe in the award-winning Snowmass park is home to Olympian Gretchen Bleiler and has been featured in dozens of photo shoots and movies. Now there's a new halfpipe at Snowmass built specifically for those still learning how to ride the pipe.

The new 12-foot pipe will be built by the Lowdown Park on Snowmass and will welcome guests of all levels to drop in and feel the thrill of the halfpipe just like their Olympic and X Games heroes. Aspen/Snowmass is one of the only resorts in the world to offer three halfpipes to accommodate all skill levels.

Upgraded On-Mountain Food and Beverage Offerings

Aspen/Snowmass has always been known for amazing on-mountain dining, but this year, under the direction of Jim Butchart, Executive Chef Mountain Division, Aspen Skiing Company, the on-mountain dining experience will feature more local cuisine and an enhanced dining experience.

New Technology

From hands-free gates to the Aspen/Snowmass iPad application, Aspen Skiing Company will continue to bring the latest technology to guests.

In addition to last year's new 100 percent hands-free and hassle-free gate system, allowing guests to pass through automated gates with a Radio Frequency activated plastic lift ticket, Aspen/Snowmass will now offer guests the ability to link their credit card to their lift ticket/ski pass; valid for use at any Aspen Skiing Company owned business from restaurants to rentals, ski school and more.

Additionally, Aspen/Snowmass is currently developing an iPad application, which will bring the resort to life from anywhere in the world. The Aspen/Snowmass mobile application - which works on 97 percent of smart phones from the iPhone to BlackBerry - is now available for download and provides live grooming, snowfall and weather information, as well as offers guests the ability to book lunch or dinner reservations from the chairlift.

Copper Mountain

For the 2010-11 ski season, Copper is investing more money on improvements than it has in recent history. Copper's plans include $6 million in capital improvements.

Copper will be expanding snowmaking and free parking, adding more parking and improving the arrival experience at Union Creek. This focus on infrastructure enhancements sets the stage for future on-mountain improvements. Highlights 2010-11 capital improvements include:

Increased Snowmaking

This year, Copper is increasing its snowmaking capacity by 25 percent. The resort anticipates better early season coverage for race camps, training, and early November skiers and riders. Also new for this season, Copper purchased a 22-foot pipe cutting Zaug, which means the resort will be able to have an Olympic-sized superpipe the entire season.

Expanded Free Parking

By expanding free parking availability, guests can spend their Snow Days on the snow instead of searching for a parking spot. Copper is undertaking a 40 percent increase in free parking in the expanded Corn Lot.

Additional parking at the base of Union Creek will add easy access to the beginner area of Copper's naturally divided terrain. The resort is also investing in improving the arrival experience in Union Creek and The Schoolhouse.

Ski and Snowboard Camp

Copper Mountain recently installed Woodward at Copper, the first indoor/outdoor ski and snowboard camp on the planet. The 20,000 sq ft Woodward at Copper Barn gives campers access to SnowflexR jumps, foam pits, a spring floor, trampolines and indoor skateboard features.

Participants develop tricks in The Barn and progress in Copper's nationally recognized terrain parks and Superpipe. During the 2010-11 winter season, Woodward at Copper is offering Winter Camp Days, One Hit Wonder Sessions, Drop-In Sessions and Skate only sessions.

Crested Butte

The focus is on the hill this season at Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR). Improvements designed to maximize the skiing and riding experience are taking place in preparation for the resort's celebration of 50 years of skiing.

CBMR is adding Columbine trail from the top of Painter Boy/Gold Link to the base area. The addition includes 15.3 acres of intermediate terrain on the main mountain. Crews also are in the process of glading Horseshoe Springs - opening up the area and making the terrain more accessible to upper intermediates.

Increased Snowmaking

Guests to CBMR also will note increased snowmaking capabilities resulting in earlier terrain openings and a better late season base. Increased snowmaking at the base area will allow for Peachtree beginners lift and the Camp CB teaching area and magic carpets to open on the first day of the season. The resort is also eager to utilize its $40,000 National Ski Areas Association grant, which will translate to 10 new high efficiency tower snow guns.

Park Profile Update

Park riders rejoice - there are new features on the Cascade trail planned for 2010-2011. A new park and pipe will allow for a full on-mountain adventure experience with its proximity to the kids' park on Painter Boy and the Prinoth Snowcat Experience, also located in this area.

A new NASTAR race arena located on the Canaan trail just above the Paradise Warming House will be another notable change on the mountain for the coming season.

Finally, CBMR has added a new base area activity to the existing Adventure Park. The Flying Gopher 18 hole mini golf course is located under a weatherproof dome, which will convert to an ice skating rink during the winter season.

More than $315 million has been invested in on- and off-mountain improvements and amenities at CBMR since Tim and Diane Mueller purchased the ski area in 2004. The resort recently unveiled Mountaineer Square, the new base area village at Mt. Crested Butte, featuring the Lodge at Mountaineer Square, new dining options, the Adventure Center, and distinctive shops.

In addition, the new Elevation Hotel & Spa opened, providing a new luxury option at the base of the mountain. Also committed to on-mountain improvements, Crested Butte opened the Teo 2 and Teo 2.5 ski area expansions in Teocalli Bowl.

Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain Ski and Snowboard Area, entering its fifth season of operation this winter, recently announced planned expansion resulting in the addition of a top-to-bottom beginner run and increased access to glade skiing for 2010-11. The new terrain brings the total number of named trails to 16 and marks the entry into Phase II of Echo's ten-year master plan.

The beginner-friendly "easiest way down" will branch off the existing Creightons to just below LC1. The trail will extend through Hideout, and new terrain will be cleared to the west of Echo's current area boundary. In addition to the new beginner trail, the expansion will also increase access to gladed terrain in Lower Westside Glades.

The project includes minimal tree clearing, and the lumber will be reclaimed for erosion control, trail marking and feature construction. The expansion will not impact Echo's summer business as a private rental facility for weddings, receptions and special events.

Of the 240 acres of private property on which Echo is situated, approximately 35 percent of the land is currently developed for skiing and riding. This expansion is the next step as the ski area continues to grow.

Since it's opening in March, 2006, Echo Mountain has become increasingly popular with beginners and families from throughout Colorado's Front Range. As a result, the ski area has expanded the Echo Mountain Ski and Ride School, increased its rental fleet, developed progression terrain in Learning Centers One and Two (LC1/LC2) and, most recently, installed a Magic CarpetR surface lift.

Coming up in Part Two: What's new at Eldora, Loveland, Monarch Mountain, Powderhorn and Winter Park.

 
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