Earlier racing planned for Vail | VailDaily.com

Earlier racing planned for Vail

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily file photoSki Club Vail racer Erika Ghent leans into a turn at the Colorado Ski Cup Ladies Giant Slalom at Golden Peak in Vail last Feburary. Vail Mountain is planning to expand the race course so kids can train earlier in the season.

VAIL, Colorado ” Several million dollars of improvements on Vail Mountain’s Golden Peak Race Trail would put ski racers on the mountain much earlier in Colorado’s ski season.

The trail on the mountain’s eastern edge, currently used for training by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, usually isn’t open until the beginning of December, but improvements to the run’s snowmaking equipment could have the run ready by early November, said Aldo Radamus, executive director for the club.

“Usually starting the third week of October, our athletes and coaches ” about a hundred people ” load into vans and go to train at Copper, Keystone and Loveland, which have early season snowmaking equipment,” Radamus said.

Opening Vail’s training courses earlier in the year would save the club considerably on costs for lift tickets and transportation.

The improvements, which would cost about $2.5 million to $3 million, would include installing automatic snowmaking equipment on the course, which would switch on whenever early season temperatures allowed.

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New pipework and a new pump house would also allow the snowmakers to run simultaneously with those at Bwanaa, Born Free and other runs that open early in the ski season, said Don Dressler, U.S. Forest Service snowsports ranger.

The snowmaking equipment would also allow the Golden Peak half-pipe to open up to a month earlier. This year the half pipe was ready at the beginning of January.

The improvements would also include constructing poles that would allow for safety netting around the race course. Building the netting would involve cutting down about half an acre of aspen trees.

“This is such a huge opportunity for the kids in the valley to pursue their dreams in snowsports and be able to train in town,” Radamus said. “It’s an important issue.”

If the project is approved by the forest service, construction would be done in the summer and fall of this year. The forest service is currently seeking public comment on the project, and a decision would be made in June.

Proposals were also submitted in 2007 to expand the race course up to the top of Golden Peak. However, forest service officials were worried about sedimentation problems caused by the run-off water from the course.

Vail Mountain plans to make improvements that would take care of the sedimentation problems, and the plan will probably be resubmitted in a couple years, Radamus said.

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public comment on the Golden Peak Race Trail improvements for the next month. Send specific comments and your contact information to Mary Morgan, Acting Forest Supervisor c/o Don Dressler, Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, P.O. Box 190, Minturn, CO 81645 or e-mail at wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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