A look at Copper Mountain, Keystone and Breckenridge resorts’ upgrades for the 2017-18 ski season
Shortly after Copper Mountain Resort’s snowguns shut off on Thursday, Nov. 2, just a few hundred yards away Jose Velasquez continued to buff a small part of what will become one of the longest mountain coasters in North America.
There is no exact opening date yet, but Copper plans to open its new 5,800-foot Rocky Mountain Coaster in about a month, said resort spokeswoman Stephanie Sweeney.
The ski resort has chosen to open the multi-season attraction this winter after construction on the multi-million-dollar ride began last April.
“It’s all kind of built into the trees that are under here and doesn’t affect any of the (ski) trails,” Sweeney said. “It should be pretty beautiful.”
The coaster, void of inversions, utilizes the ups and downs of mountain terrain, and will take riders from the west side of the American Flyer lift up through the resort’s forest. What follows is a total descent of almost 4,000 feet and a vertical drop of 430 feet — thrills that begin near the resort’s intermediate Liberty trail.
The coaster is the biggest of several year-round attractions the resort got the go-ahead on in March after a final decision was released by the White River National Forest. The year-round recreation upgrades also will include a 1-mile mountain bike trail and associated snowmaking and drainage system improvements.
The ride will have a dynamic brake system that will enable riders to adjust their car’s own speed as they make their way back down the mountain. Sweeney added that the ride should have a maximum top speed of about 35 to 40 miles per hour.
The ride will require skiers to pay an additional cost, one not yet determined, the spokeswoman said. Ski boots, however, will be permitted on the ride, as skis and boards can be left at racks near the base of the American Flyer lift located 50 yards away.
The construction of year-round rides like mountain coasters are a trend in the ski resort industry. Copper’s new feature is being constructed by the same builder of a 4,800-foot-long coaster at Killington Ski Resort in Vermont, which is another of Powdr Corp.’s properties.
The title of longest mountain coaster in the United States may be rivaled by a pending project in New York, as that state’s Governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, has pledged to build the country’s longest mountain coaster. It would be at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic bobsled and skeleton course in Lake Placid, part of $20 million worth of upgrades Cuomo pledged in January to state-owned winter sports facilities in the Adirondacks.
MORE AT COPPER
The resort plans to open its new Kokomo Express Lift around Dec. 15, when West Village opens for the season. The new lift, easier to get to from Union Creek Lodge, will be a quad rather than the previous slower three-person, fixed-grip chairlift.
“It gets them up to the main beginner terrain area in just four minutes,” Sweeney said.
And at the top of the lift will be KoKo’s Hut, which Sweeney explained is set to open some time on or after Christmas. The cafeteria-style spot will have a deck with a view of the Tenmile Range.
Copper will also open its REI Adventure Station this season, at the former location of Copper Sports and Camp Hale Coffee in Center Village. The REI station will offer similar programming to the co-op’s new Dillon store and be part of Camp Hale Outfitters, which will also feature a wine bar, coffee, high-end demo rentals and retail space.
The resort will also open its new Toast and Co. full service breakfast location, which at around 2 and 3 p.m. in the afternoon will become a mixology bar where visitors can create their own cocktails.
The former Endos restaurant will reopen as Ten Mile Tavern. Sweeney said the menu will be similar, though it will offer upgraded ingredients, a longer bar and serve Ten Barrel Brewing.
The new Downhill Dukes restaurant will be opened between the resort’s Flyer and American Eagle lifts. A mini-stage and heated outdoor seating will be a core part of the restaurant, one Sweeney said will be at a primary location for après, as it’s one of Copper’s most sunny spots.
Keystone Resort spokesman Russ Carlton said the new six-person Montezuma Express chairlift, which will be open when the resort opens for the season at 9 a.m. Friday, is the mountain’s biggest new addition.
The resort claims the upgrade will increase uphill capacity by 25 percent at the primary mid-Dercum mountain lift.
Keystone is also expanding its Kidtopia programming this season. The activities, which are free and open to those with Keystone admission, will open with the start of this season as opposed to a Thanksgiving opening like in years past.
This Friday will include a Kidtopia “Wacky Tacky Party.” Then on Dec. 15, Keystone’s nine-day “Kidtopia Spectacular Event” will launch through Christmas Eve and will feature what the resort says is the world’s largest snow fort at the top of Dercum.
The resort will also have a new culinary festival in February and a new Kidtopia music experience in the spring.
Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone, both Vail Resorts properties, will have music, giveaways and a free Epic Mix photo booth on opening day.
Breckenridge is also opening its new old-fashioned candy shop, “The Candy Corner,” at Ten Mile Station
“It’s almost a throwback to the mining theme, history of Breckenridge,” resort spokesman Zak Sos said.