Racers to hit Vail Mountain earlier
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Karen Ghent is looking forward to much less driving over snowy roads next ski season.
Ghent, whose daughter races for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, said that recently approved snowmaking improvements at the club’s Golden Peak race course on Vail Mountain will allow racers to practice on the slopes much earlier in the season. It will save parents and racers hours spent driving to neighboring ski mountains with early season skiing.
The U.S. Forest Service gave approval last week for the more than $2.5 million in work on the course, which would include installing automatic snowmaking equipment on the course for early season snowmaking.
“We feel very fortunate and happy that the project was approved,” said Aldo Radamus, the clubs executive director. “This will have a significant impact on opportunities provided to the kids here in the valley.”
Right now during the early season, parents and racers travel to Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin six days a week beginning in mid-October, said Ghent, who also runs the club’s Alpine program.
“The time and expense of driving over to Summit County adds up over time for all that early season skiing,” she said. “It will help so much to have our home hill open. That’s time that the kids would have on snow and not sitting in a car.”
Last season about 50 racers left Vail early each morning for early-season practice, she said.
The Golden Peak Race trail is located on the mountain’s eastern edge and is currently used for training by Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. It 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.
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, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
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.
Plans also include putting up poles in install safety netting around the race course. Building the netting would involve cutting down about half an acre of aspen trees.
The project is slated to start this summer, and be ready by the coming winter season, Radamus said.
The slope work won’t require a full environmental impact study that is usually called for by the Forest Service because forest rangers determined that the project won’t hurt endangered Canada Lynx, endangered Colorado fish or a species of endangered butterfly that live in the area.
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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