Beaver Creek breaks ground on new lift-served terrain expansion
McCoy Park will add two lifts, 17 new trails to the resort
BEAVER CREEK — With wildlife closures expiring for the season Thursday, Beaver Creek began work on the ski area’s expansion of lift-served terrain in the area of the resort known as McCoy Park.
Beaver Creek Chief Operating Officer Nadia Guerriero said the earliest of the crews got to work during the 4 a.m. hour, as time is of the essence on the project.
“We’re putting in two quad lifts, 17 new trails, building a warming hut, building compostable toilets, a pit toilet down at the bottom of the chairlift for employees, so there’s a lot to do,” Guerriero said. “We’ve been spending a ton of time planning and getting everything situated and ready to go, so we were ready to hit the ground running this morning.”
Guerriero said crews worked up to the wildlife closure May 5, preparing the lift installation and trail cutting, and worked around the boundaries of the closure from May 6 to June 30, placing components of the Doppelmayr chairlift in allowable areas like the resort’s television staging grounds for its World Cup ski races.
“We were able to do a little bit of tree work between the closing of the mountain and May 5,” Guerriero said. “Anything they could stage and work on outside of the wildlife closure, they’ve been doing.”
Appetite for more
Approved in 2019, the McCoy Park expansion is not a ski area boundary expansion, as the area was already being used by Beaver Creek as a Nordic ski center.
“At McCoy Park, I know we’re getting close to the ski area boundary at the western edge, but there’s always generally room for more,” said Leanne Veldhuis, the district ranger for the Eagle-Holy Cross portion of the White River National Forest, on which much of Beaver Creek is located.
Veldhuis said Beaver Creek does not have any more expansions in front of the Forest Service at this time, but she knows the appetite is there. Nearby Vail Mountain also expanded during the 2019-20 season, although that expansion has been largely reserved for use among Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and other snowsports athletes.
“There’s been no indication that the great outdoors is going to become less popular. No one thinks that, it’s certainly the opposite, and so I think the timing of this is actually pretty great,” Veldhuis said.
Three intermediate and 14 beginner trails will comprise the new McCoy Park downhill ski area. But the Nordic skiing component of the venue won’t disappear; rather it will be reduced in size to accommodate the new downhill component of the McCoy Park.
Guerriero said the extra visibility of the Nordic skiing venue brought to the area from the new lifts could bring about increased interest in that activity, as well.
“From past experience at other resorts, when Nordic is visible and adjacent, then I think it opens up the realm of possibility for other folks,” she said.
Guerriero said she enjoyed an afternoon of Nordic skiing in McCoy Park during the 2020-21 season.
“Right now, with Nordic only out here, the only reason you’re coming out here is to snowshoe or Nordic ski, but I think it is within the realm of possibility that folks will discover the Nordic skiing and the snowshoe trails,” she said.
Veldhuis has been on the job for less than a year, and said she has been enjoying the immense responsibilities of managing the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District.
Veldhuis said events like the Beaver Creek groundbreaking on Thursday highlight the partnerships that take place on the White River National Forest.
“They clearly were organized, and excited, and have thought it all through today, and certainly through the many project planning phases,” she said.
Veldhuis took the job after the McCoy Park project had been approved, but not before it was fully planned.
“The bulk of the analysis had taken place before I got here, but then we kind of fine-tuned it over this past year with the remaining pieces of the project,” Veldhuis said.
Guerriero said crews were given extra time to plan, with the pandemic delaying the project by one year, but the annual wildlife closures ensured that the 250-acre project was going to take place on a compressed construction schedule regardless of when the resort decided to take it on.
“We are going to complete all of this in time for the 2021-22 ski season, so it’s a tight timeline, and a lot of work and commitment, and many hours have already gone into the planning of this project, so we are ready to go first thing this morning,” Guerriero said Thursday.