EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - In a resort valley where everything is constantly being re-imagined and upgraded, a new year means new projects and events to look forward to in both Vail and Beaver Creek.
In addition to annual events like the Winter Mountain Games, Spring Back to Vail, the Taste of Vail, Vail Film Festival and ongoing 50th anniversary events throughout the winter and summer months, here's a brief look at what else is in store for 2013:
Town of Vail
The town of Vail is coming out of 2012 with improvement projects already in the works for completion in 2013. The town's Golf Course clubhouse remodel has a development application in the process, and improvements at Ford Park and a Main Vail Fire Station remodel are both currently under construction.
At Ford Park, improvements include a new restroom and concession building, a new restroom and maintenance building, a retaining wall expanding the outfield of the west softball field, and an expansion of the softball field area to make room for two full-size soccer/lacrosse fields. All of the Ford Park work should be completed by September 2013, with the fields remaining closed through June 2014.
The town of Vail is also expected to publicly discuss whether to move forward with the municipal site redevelopment project now that the Steadman Clinic and Vail Valley Medical Center are no longer a part of that project.
Vail Resorts made some major announcements in 2012, including its $18 million acquisition of Kirkwood Mountain Resort near Lake Tahoe last February, its Epic Discovery summer plans last July and an announcement just a few weeks ago that the company was purchasing two ski areas in the Midwest.
Portions of construction for Vail's Epic Discovery proposal, which include everything from building an alpine coaster to zip lines to more hiking and biking trails, are expected to begin this spring beginning with projects at Adventure Ridge. The majority of the project's plans are working their way through the U.S. Forest Service's environmental evaluation process, which could last throughout the year and possibly into 2014.
The proposal was submitted following Congress's passing of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011, which allows for expanded recreational activities at previously developed mountain resorts.
The plans propose a wedding deck at The 10th, a Front Side zip-line canopy tour, a zip-line canopy tour into Game Creek Bowl, two "Forest Flyers" (alpine coasters) and other activities.
Vail Resorts also recently received key approvals for its proposed $1 billion Ever Vail project, which would add a new gondola, lodging, residences, commercial space and more to West Lionshead. The company has said it will move forward with development applications once market conditions improve.
Vail Valley Foundation
With the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships a little more than two years away, the Vail Valley Foundation and Beaver Creek have been working hard on building the new women's downhill course next to the current men's Birds of Prey course.
The new women's downhill course adds 17 new acres of skiable terrain to Beaver Creek, and another 30 acres of snowmaking. The course will run in and out of the existing Peregrine run, a double black diamond trail that runs under Chair 9, and then on the lower half of the run there is a new spur trail called Kestrel, named for another bird of prey. That run is expected to open to the public this season, as soon as conditions allow.
The Foundation will host the women for an inspection race following the 2013 Birds of Prey race week in December. It will be the first opportunity for the women racers to inspect the course, and their feedback could warrant some changes to be made in the summer of 2014, the last construction season before the championships in February 2015.
The Foundation is also working on improvements at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in 2013. Phase 1 began last fall and includes improved road access, the construction of a lawn tier at the amphitheater and the new east restrooms. Phase 2 will take place in the spring of 2013 and include a new social plaza, improved pathways and new entry points, while Phase 3 is slated for the fall of 2013. The phase 1 improvements are being funded with approximately 50 percent from the conference center fund reallocation dollars, while the remaining improvements funded through private donations raised by the Foundation.
Burton U.S. Open
Organizers of the Burton U.S. Open, which has spent the last 30 years in Vermont - the home of Burton Snowboards - announced their decision to move the event to Vail in 2013.
Being a rider-driven event is something the U.S. Open has become known for over the years, said Burton Global Public Relations Director Anne-Marie Dacyshyn during a trip to Vail last July. It's also the longest-running snowboard event in history.
"It is the most authentic, relevant and iconic snowboard event - that we can say; that's untouchable," Dacyshyn said. "It's what the riders want."
The U.S. Open comes to town Feb. 25 to March 2. Olympic athletes like Kelly Clark, Shaun White and Gretchen Bleiler are expected to compete.
Clark grew up going to the event and watching athletes do things on snowboards she could only dream of at the time. She talked about the decision to move the event to Vail when the announcement was made last summer.
"(Vail will) give it a different identity for sure, but I think there's a lot of opportunity moving forward," Clark said. "Even today, walking through where the venues are going to be and hearing more about it, I'm more excited than ever and looking forward to it."
Jake Burton, the founder of Burton Snowboards, said in a statement "that Vail offers us the ideal venue to host the event. Vail is an incredible mountain and has been my snowboarding home-away-from-home for over 20 years. I have no doubt that the U.S. Open at Vail will only grow in its legacy as the premier rider-driven event in the world."
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.