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Snowmaking, Terrain Parks, Lifts Improved At Minnesota Resorts
Minnesota’s ski season is underway with several ski areas already open. The Gopher State has fared better in the weather pool than other Great Lakes state, especially those on the east side of Lake Michigan. Here’s a rundown on what’s new at ski resorts that have made improvements.
Afton Alps increased snowmaking capacity, adding new features and designs in the Landing Zone Terrain Park, and new this season is online/mobile ticketing and card reloading so you don’t have to wait in line.
In the Twin Cities Buck Hill has expanded their snowmaking system once again, and Hyland Hills Ski Area has a newly remodeled chalet and, for the first time, will be offering $8 helmet rentals this season.
Welch Village partnered with Colorado based 4 Pine Design on a new terrain park and 10 new features that will be ready this winter. They plan on adding more features throughout the winter and working with 4 Pine on future terrain park developments. A new rope tow will keep the new terrain park moving.
Lutsen Mountains’ new eight-passenger gondola will be ready to go for the winter season. The new gondola can haul 1,000 visitors per hour up to the Moose Mountain summit, which will minimize wait time. The Summit chalet was also expanded and an additional observation deck added. The project is part of 10-year, $25 million transformation, which included a new six-seat, high-speed chairlift on Moose last season, making Lutsen into one of the top destination resorts mid-continent.
Giants Ridge is adding a new 34,500 square-foot Event Center, which will house skier services, a snowsports school, winter and summer equipment rentals, food and beverage sales, and banquet and conference centers. It replaces a 30-year-old inefficient building. Unfortunately it won’t be complete until 2016, which will affect parking space this winter. Shuttle service will be available on designated weekends to handle overflow crowds.
Powder Ridge has a newly remodeled ski shop and new Ridge gear available. Other projects included a new fire pit in front of the chalet, and upgraded rental equipment for this winter.
Ski Gull opened a lot of terrain through the summer with tree clearing, which will mean more backcountry skiing and riding terrain available this winter.
Photos: Top -- Lutsen Mountains' new 8-passenger gondola is ready to roll (Lutsen/Facebook); Below -- Ski Gull opens plenty of new terrain for season (Ski Gull/Facebook)