Minnesota Resorts Make Improvements For Season; Afton, Lutsen Top List
Afton’s new owner, Vail Resorts, invested $10 million in renovations over the summer. Among major improvements guests will readily notice: a new terrain park and village for snowboarders and freestyle skiers with two new rope tows for quick access, plus new guest service facilities and snowmaking upgrades.
The customer service center includes a new ski school area and ticketing office. Ticketing scanning systems have been upgraded to include Vail Resorts EpicMix technology, which tracks skiers and snowboarders for posts and pins on social media.
Lutsen Mountains spent $4.5 million this summer adding the state’s first six-seat, high-speed chairlift on Moose Mountain. The new lift cuts ride time on Moose’s 825-foot ascent, largest vertical around the Great Lakes, from 10 minutes to a quick three-and-a-half minute ride.
Two new advanced runs have been cut on the North Face of Moose, where Plunge has stood alone for years as one of the steepest runs in the Heartland. While one new run is steep and fast like Plunge, the other is reputed to be mellower, but don’t let your guard down. Both are still classified double-black-diamond.
Spirit Mountain’s new Grand Avenue Chalet, located at the base of the ski hill, will be open for the winter season, which includes the Riverside Bar & Grill. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the Grill features pub fare with a twist and offers great views of both the ski slopes and the scenic St. Louis River.
“That chalet also offers lift tickets, rental equipment, ski patrol, and a cafe during the ski season. It's a fully operational ski chalet, just on a smaller scale than the old one on top, now called Skyline Chalet,” Spirit spokesperson Briana Hansen Johnson told SnoCountry.com.
Wild Mountain has partnered with US Air Bag to have a stunt airbag available this season allowing snowboarders and freestyle skiers a safe landing area to practice tricks and jumps. It will be available for use Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.
A new rope tow has been added on Back Stage terrain park along with more intermediate features for this winter. Front Stage is being made into a “true” beginner park. Wild has teamed with Three Rivers USSA/FIS Racing to offer USSA level race training this season.
Buck Hill once again made improvements to their snowmaking system. making it one of the best in the Heartland. Don’t forget Buck’s famous Zombie Boardshop Shred ‘til You’re Dead preseason jam Saturday, Nov. 9. Participation is limited to the first 100 zombies to register.
The Twin Cities' Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area’s chalet project is moving forward with development of a new chalet, chalet parking and Normandale parking expansion project. A price tag of more than $14 million has been budgeted for the project.
Welch Village made upgrades to both Jaxx Chalet and Bar and the Black Diamond Bar. Plans are moving ahead for building a new maintenance shop, which will be completed next summer.
Mount Kato added a new Piston Bully 400 to its grooming fleet, and Powder Ridge Ski Area upgraded Chester’s Bar & Grill with a full kitchen and expanded menu for the coming season. Chester’s is located upstairs in the main chalet.
Photo: Welch Village, Minn. (Welch Village)