The 2018/19 ski and snowboard season has officially arrived in Colorado with a number of ski resorts opening, taking advantage of the recent storms which dumped snow by the feet, not inches, on their slopes.
Upgrades abound for a quartet of Colorado ski and snowboard resorts that swing open their doors in mid-November, as the new season gets into full-bore boogie mode for the 2018-2019 season.
Copper Mountain Resort officially kicked off the 2018-19 snowmaking season early Sunday morning near the top of the Excelerator lift on Andy’s Encore trail. Meanwhile, Loveland Ski Area received three inches of new snow, and just over the Continental Divide, Arapahoe Basin also reported a fresh coat of snow.
A staple on the activity slate at many ski and snowboard resorts in the Rocky Mountains is the fast-chargin’, whip-turnin’ mountain coaster.
Willy Booker, head of Burke Mountain Academy which hones some of America’s finest ski racers, bemoans that kids are less active and athletic today and don’t get outdoors enough.
One way to remedy that is to have fun at a mountain resort this summer.
Copper to cut season pass price for next season. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)
The season pass battles are officially on for 2018-2019, and Copper Mountain has fired its salvo with an early-season pass priced about 25 percent lower than this season's top price.
North Carolina's Cataloochee gears up for a favorable start to February. (Cataloochee/Facebook)
The weather pattern turns much more favorable for winter conditions across the East, while a steady stream of moisture moves into the Rocky Mountains.
In the Woodward park at Copper. (Woodward Copper/Facebook)
In a bit of an ironic twist, the former owner of Park City Mountain will build a Woodward action sports facility north of the city – a project originally planned for the base of the Utah ski and snowboard mountain.
U.S. Ski and Snowboard athletes posted some remarkable results last weekend as Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colo.) continued to establish herself as one of the most dominant athletes in any sport in the world, landing two downhill podiums, including her first win, in Lake Louise, Canada. Sadie Bjornsen (Anchorage, Alaska) skied to another podium finish in a classic sprint in Lillehammer, Norway, and the U.S. Ski Team men’s alpine athletes took to the famed Birds of Prey course in Beaver Creek, where Ted Ligety (Park City, Utah) led the charge in giant slalom and Tommy Ford (Bend, Ore.) skied to his first top-10 World Cup finish.
A keystone holiday getaway is a good bet. (Keystone)
The B-rolls of early snowfall photos have started, and the usual suspects have already dropped their ropes on a new season. So the next question is: Where to ski and snowboard during the holiday season?
Fourteeners loom over Keystone golfers (Keystone/Facebook)
The golf season at Colorado winter resorts may be truncated but, while they are open, the courses reflect the mountains amidst they sit.
The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame class of 2016. (Mary Jo Tarallo/Facebook)
Among the inductees were President of the National Ski Areas Association Michael Berry; skiing film legends Dan and John Egan; ski jumping Olympian and coach Jeff Hastings; and Copper Mountain conceiver Chuck Lewis. Also joining the class are athlete and author Ellen Post Foster; freestyle icon Marion Post Caldwell; National Ski Patrol visionary Gretchen Rous Besser; and ski marketing and trade-show impresario Bernie Weichsel.
The new inductees bring the total to 428 Honored Members in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
“Each member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 was a remarkable leader, as either an athlete or sport builder,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame Chairman Tom Kelly. “So much of what all of us enjoy in our sport today has emanated from these outstanding honored members of the Hall of Fame.”
HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2016
Michael Berry, Colorado: Michael has been President of the National Ski Areas Association since 1993. Under his leadership, the NSAA significantly increased annual visits to resorts throughout North America. Michael’s vision helped create continuity and a sustainable growth model for resorts.
Dan and John Egan, Vermont | New Hampshire: The Egan brothers have starred in more Warren Miller films than anyone worldwide. As pioneering explorers and ambassadors they traveled the globe to put “extreme” in skiing. This dynamic duo set the standard for what is possible in big-mountain skiing.
Jeff Hastings, New Hampshire: Jeff impacted Olympic ski jumping as a competitor and coach. His fourth-place Olympic performance in 1984 in Sarajevo holds as a record in modern U.S. ski jumping. He has continued his work teaching, judging and commentating competitions and advocating for jumping and Nordic combined.
Chuck Lewis, Colorado: A competitor at heart, Chuck is known within the industry for his vision and passion. His dedication and meticulous planning helped to conceive Copper Mountain and a trail design and layout philosophy widely accepted and used to this day.
Ellen Post Foster, D.C.: Ellen touched both the freestyle skiing world as an athlete and the Professional Ski Instructors of America as a model instructor and visionary. Her efforts and passion for snowsport motivated countless youth skiers to hit the slopes. Her contributions continue as an author and advocate of skiing education.
Marion Post Caldwell, D.C.: As a freestyle skiing icon, Marion dominated the sport in the 1970s. Women’s overall champ in ’76 and ’77 and being named Freestyle Skier of the Year are among her accomplishments. She brought skiing to the world stage as an ambassador and pioneer of the sport.
Gretchen Rous Besser, Vermont: While her unprecedented career as a ski patroller and first aid instructor are impressive, her impact as an historian, international liaison and visionary in the world of skiing sets her apart. She generously shares her passion and vast knowledge to better industry organizations worldwide.
Bernie Weichsel, Massachusetts: Known globally throughout the industry, Bernie has done it all. As an advocate, he created an organized freestyle competition circuit. His innovative SKI USA worldwide promotions continue to bring thousands of international skiers to U.S. slopes and his consumer ski and snowboard expos attract tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The mission of the U. S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame is to honor athletes and sport builders for their lifelong national and international achievements in the sport. The National Ski Association of America, now known as USSA, was established in 1905 in Ishpeming, MI, the birthplace of organized skiing. The Hall of Fame Museum, established in 1954, resides in Ishpeming as well.
A national voting panel selects the incoming class in the fall of each year. The class of 2016 will be enshrined next September at the Museum in Ishpeming.
Sometimes you luck out with an Easter snowstorm. (Bretton Woods)
April snow will still be in abundance at many resorts across the country, so hop out for some spring runs with the Easter Bunny this Easter.
Mount Washington from top of Wildcat. (Wildcat/Facebook)
One of the true blessings that comes with skiing and snowboarding is the chance to no only get into the mountains but also to rise up to the high ground and soak in an eyeful of wild country that surrounds.
SnoCountry.com took a long look around the country and came up with some it our favorite mountains where, if we pause for a moment, will bring joy to our eyes and hearts. Here they are:
Wildcat. Skiers and snowboarders at New Hampshire resort are treated to a horizon-to-horizon view of Mt. Washington (highest in East) and the Presidential Range – plus sneak preview of springtime hiking fav Tuckerman’s Ravine. Best view: Top of Polecat trail.
Gunstock. Mountain rises up next to Lake Winnipesaukee – largest in New Hampshire – with the Ossipee Range in the foreground and massif of White Mountains looming behind. Best view spot: Top of Panorama lift on Flintlock trail.
Camden Snow Bowl. Only ski and snowboard mountain with view of the Atlantic Ocean off mid-coast of Maine. Best spot: Top of triple chair or top of aptly named Lookout run.
Lutsen Mountains. Sitting on the north shore of Lake Superior, all four mountain rise 1,000 feet out of the world's largest freshwater lake that looks an inland sea, as no land can be seen across the lake. Best spots: At summit of each.
Copper Mountain. Colorado’s central Rockies spread all around Copper, including the Ten-Mile and Gore ranges and Vail Pass – plus a glimpse at Continental Divide off the backside. Best spot: Top of Storm King chair.
Homewood. With the Sierra Range as a backdrop, skiers and riders get to soak in view of iconic Lake Tahoe that (literally) laps up against the base area of Homewood. Best spot: Pretty much anywhere on the hill.
Mt. Baker. Volcanic field in Washington produces long views of the North Cascades National Park and glacier-coated Mt. Baker itself. Best spot: Top of Experts lifts on appropriately labeled Panorama Dome.
Young skiers at Ridge Cat pickup. (Loveland/Facebook)
At Loveland Ski Area – like all mountains -- a day ticket or season pass gets you onto all the lifts on the mountain. Unlike most others, your ticket at Loveland also puts you in line for a few snowcat rides into powder country.
A pair of skiers punctuate the new season at Copper Mountain. (Copper Mountain/Facebook)
Just as doomsayers raised their voices, Mother Nature came to the rescue in the West and turned the conversation to, “When are you opening?”
For many resorts in the Rockies, Sierra and Cascades, the answer is a resounding “soon.” Yes, terrain will be quite limited – often a couple of runs in the beginner/intermediate areas – but many ski and snowboard areas put up cheap ticket deals to get people to the slopes as soon as possible.
Significant snowfall coursed across the northern tier of the Western mountains in the past week, dropping as much as a foot on Steamboat which opens this week. Most Colorado resorts that pushed back their traditional pre-Thanksgiving opening days have put a new date on the calendar. Colorado’s Keystone, Breckenridge, Winter Park and Copper Mountain all dropped the ropes this past week, after a week’s delay. Eldora is set drop the ropes this week.
Out west In SoCal, Mammoth Mountain has been open for a couple of weeks and, in the Sierra, both Boreal and Mount Rose began spinning lifts this past week while a slew of other Tahoe-area resorts plan to open for Thanksgiving.
Early snow has come fitfully to Utah, but Snowbasin plans to lead the pack with a Wednesday (Nov. 23) start, followed by Park City on Friday (Nov. 25). A bunch of Utah’s 15 resorts haven’t announced an opening yet.
Up in the Northwest, Mount Baker expects to win the race this season by kicking off the season on Nov. 23. Others have coverage, but await more.
OpenSnow forecasters see multiple storm systems rolling in off the Pacific in the next couple of weeks, bringing significant snowfall to the mountains and brightening the prospects for early-goers all across the West.
Loveland's snow guns have been blasting in the last couple of weeks. (Loveland/Facebook)
UPDATED Wednesday, Nov. 9: Loveland Ski Area becomes the second ski and snowboard mountain in the Rockies as the resort is all prepped and ready for opening on Thursday (Nov. 10).
All three base areas at Copper are never far from the lifts (Copper/Facebook)
If there ever was a mountain created for downhill skiing and riding, it’s Copper Mountain. Nestled among 13,000-plus foot peaks just off the Continental Divide, Copper sits in a snow alley right along I-70 about 1-1/2 hour drive from Denver.
More steep and deep with new trails at Eldora Mountain this season (Eldora/Facebook)
Work is underway to clear three black-diamond runs at Eldora Mountain Resort that are slated to be open when the Colorado mountain opens in December.
The day-trip Front Range ski and snowboard area is undergoing its first major upgrades in several decades, thanks to infusion of capital by new owners Powdr Corp. after the U.S. Forest Service gave its OK to a master plan.
The trio of trails will run between Corona and Indians Peaks chairlifts, in what is called Brian’s Glades and Placer Glade areas in the Corona Bowl section of the mountain.
The longest run at 2,600 feet is named Alpen Horn. The steepest will be Wolf Tongue, while the third called Red Trail has an intermediate section at the top before plunging into black-diamond steeps.
Snowmaking will cover the entire 15 acres that the runs encompass, the resort says, to supplement what is often 300 inches of natural snowfall a years.
Now that Eldora has been cleared to build the new trails, ownership is setting sights on a new high-speed quad to replace the dual fixed-grip chairs Cannonball and Challenge on the front side. Completion is scheduled for the 2017-2018 season.
“Colorado’s Front Range is one of the best ski markets in the world,” said John Cumming, CEO and owner of Utah-based Powdr at the time of the purchase last June. “Expanding our footprint here with now two of the most accessible resorts to serve those passionate skiers is an enormous honor. Eldora is admired as a leading entry point and training ground for children and beginners."
Tahoe’s Freakers Ball will have DJs, gogo dancers, laser lights, plus $10,000 in cash and prizes costume contest. (MontBleu Resort Casino Spa/Facebook)
While the snow starts to fall on the high ground – and the snow guns get fired up – there’s still a couple of non-winter celebrations to enjoy at mountain resorts, including favorite Halloween.
A number of resorts across the nation put up the haunted houses, game booths and scary rides in October to get the nerves on edge for the big night, Oct. 30.
Here’s SnoCountry’s list of a few hair-raising, scream-filled events at ski and snowboard resorts:
Lake Tahoe. The 38th annual Freaker's Ball, Lake Tahoe’s largest, oldest and most extravagant Halloween party, brings the wild with a four-ring costume circus under one room on Saturday, Oct. 29, at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa.
Nashoba Valley. The popular Witch’s Woods is open Thursdays through Sundays through Halloween at the eastern Massachusetts mountain. Admission ticket gets a ride on Haunted Hayride, entry into three haunted houses, and unlimited time in the Jack O’Lantern Jamboree and Horrorwood Chamber of Chills.
Cranmore. The Ghoullog has been going on in the Artist Falls Lodge for 10 years. Four “haunts” challenge with “chases through dark woods,” plus nighttime rides on a swing, zipline and Mountain Coaster. Runs weekend evenings through Nov. 5.
Bretton Woods. On Halloween weekend, the northern New Hampshire resort opens its Wicked Woods center for Halloween activities. Scheduled are costume parties for both young and old, game booths and annual Trunk or Treat Family Celebration.
Mammoth. Bring scooters, skateboards, roller blades or roller skates for an evening on Oct. 28 at Mammoth RecZone in Mammoth Lakes. Plenty of carnival games to play while circling the rink.
Copper Mountain. The Colorado resort combines Halloween scary fun with a fundraiser for a local infant with a brain tumor. Entrance fees donated to family – plus cover candy, games and freaky fun.