Beav’ will fire up new lift this season |

Beav’ will fire up new lift this season

Edward Stoner
NWS Larkspur lift PU 11-16 Preston Utley/ Beaver Creek has added another lift to its mountain, the Larkspur Express located near the Birds of Prey lift.

Vail focuses on grooming more runsVAIL – A new lift at Beaver Creek leads the list of improvements made at the two local mountains for the upcoming season.Beaver Creek, starting its 25th year Wednesday, has a new lift opening in Larkspur Bowl. Vail, opening its 43rd season Friday, is touting expanded grooming.An unseasonably warm snowmaking season has given way to just what mountain managers were looking for: snowstorms that dumped several feet on Vail and Beaver Creek starting last weekend. But snowmaking will continue around that clock at Vail and Beaver Creek.Opening Day and the rest of the weekend won’t be bring any more snow, said Mike Chamberlain, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, but temperatures will stay cold, and skies will be partly cloudy. A storm moving in Wednesday night and this morning could bring another inch to the top of the mountain, he said.Beaver Creek: Larkspur Bowl gets a liftBeaver Creek will open a new high-speed quad this year in Larkspur Bowl. It should cut the lift ride from 11 minutes to six minutes.Chief Operating Officer John Garnsey said the lift, which replaces one of the longest rides at Beaver Creek, will help spread skiers around the mountain.”It’s really good for the circulation of skiers and riders to move around the mountain,” he said. “It opens up more terrain to more folks.”

The bowl has a variety of terrain, including a row of black diamond runs. Beaver Creek regularly grooms the main part of the bowl, but there are also some bumps in the blacks at skier’s right.The resort grooms about 600 acres every night, about half of its groomable acres. The resort has a total of 1,650 skiable acres.Beaver Creek has some new snowmaking technology, too. The mountain is saving water and electricity with new guns. That should improve snowmaking on Beaver Creek Mountain Expressway, which brings skiers from the top of the Beaver Creek Express Lift to Red Tail Camp, and Leav’ the Beav’ Skiway, which goes from Bachelor Gulch down to the base of the Beaver Creek Express Lift.Beaver Creek will try to build on grooming improvements they started last year, Garnsey said. Last year, the resort increased grooming by one-third. Garnsey said they’ve found a good balance between groomed and natural terrain, and will just try to increase efficiency.Snowmaking crews are working around the clock on the Birds of Prey World Cup race course, Garnsey said. This year’s event will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4.And crews are also blowing snow around the clock on the trails that will be open to skiers on opening day, Wednesday. “It’s been a very dry and warm season up until this week,” he said. “It’s been a real challenge until just this week.”Beaver Creek will also open a new on-mountain restaurant called the Broken Arrow, at the base of the Arrowhead lift. Arrowhead fixture Blinky Blunk will flip burgers at the restaurant. The restaurant will be open for lunch and apres-ski.Vail: Well groomedVail Mountain is in the second year of an initiative to increase grooming by 30 percent on the mountain. The resort grooms 1,300 to 1,600 acres every night, with more grooming going on during the day. The mountain is also replacing nine snowcats in its lineup of 29 cats.

Vail Mountain spokeswoman Jen Brown there are several reasons why demand for groomed slopes is increasing. Because it’s easier to ski on a smooth surface, aging baby-boomers and young kids like groomers.Short, shaped skis that make turning easier also draw skiers to groomers. Plus, they want an easy way back from the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin, Brown said.Crews will continue to focus on midday grooming, as well as grooming trails all across the mountain, including in the Backs Bowls and Blue Sky.”The way the crews are set up, it’s virtually a 24-hour operation,” she said.Improvements in snowmaking, which had crews working on Pepi’s Face during the summer, will let snowmakers make the fake stuff more quickly and efficiently all across the lower mountain.Vail is adding a new terrain park this year on Hunky Dory off of Chair 3. It will be a beginner park that has little boxes, rails and mini-hits.Golden Peak terrain park and pipe are being realigned so the park is easier to ride from top to bottom. The superpipe and upper jumps will move to the eastern side of the trail, lining them up with the bottom part of the park.The Bwana park under the gondola will be back this year, too.========================Larkspur lift: by the numbers

The new Larkspur Express Lift will open as soon as conditions allow. Mountain officials say that will probably be in December.2,600: Number of people the new lift can bring up every hour.1,600: Number of people the old lift could bring up every hour.17: Number of towers.117: Number of chairs.1,525: Vertical feet.========================Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, Colorado

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