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Ski resort honchos talk expansion

Nicole Formosa
Mark Fox/Summit DailyRob Perlman, president of Ski Country USA and Roger McCarthy of Keystone/Breckenridge, Gary Rodgers of Copper Mountain and Alan Henceroth of Arapahoe Basin talked about expansion at the Summit County Ski Area Chief Operating Officers' breakfast Wednesday.
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KEYSTONE Wednesday was the first official powder day of the Ski season, making it an apt time for the chief operating officers from Summit Countys four Ski areas to pump up the High Country for the next six months of Skiing.Colorado saw a banner Ski season last year the state set an all-time record with more than 12 million Skier visits. Breckenridge and Keystone resorts Roger McCarthy, Arapahoe Basins Alan Henceroth and Copper Mountains Gary Rodgers touted last seasons successes and announced new developments at their respective resorts at the annual chief operating officers breakfast, held this year at the Keystone Conference Center.McCarthy talked about the success of last years 36 Hours of Keystone event, which returns this December for the resorts 36th anniversary, and Snowboarder Magazines signature Superpark 10, which attracted professional snowboarders from around the world to Keystone last April.This year, Transworld Snowboarding Magazine ranked Keystones A-51 Terrain Park ninth among the top ten parks in the U.S. a significant accomplishment because Keystone joined the snowboarding world later than other Ski resorts, McCarthy said.McCarthy also noted the expansion of Keystones cat-skiing operation this year, with Forest Service approval to run snowcats to the top of Independence Bowl, opening up 278 additional acres of high-alpine Skiing.Growth will continue at Keystone, which is owned by Vail Resorts, and McCarthy told the crowd to expect more announcements from the resort in the coming months.I think, all in all, were in for a big year at Keystone, McCarthy said. We just have to continue to move the needle and make a wonderful year even better.

Across the county in Breckenridge, also owned by Vail Resorts, the obvious big news is the BreckConnect Gondola, slated to open around Christmas. Construction on the $17 million gondola, which will whisk Skiers and riders from the parking lots in town to the Peak 7 and Peak 8 base areas, began last spring and crews will continue working in the snow to get the project done on time, McCarthy said.At this point, you know, every day theres a new saga on the gondola. Its a very complicated lift, McCarthy said. There are two huge turns in that lift and every time you turn a lift, its like building three lifts (with) this particular lift.Crews experienced a slight setback when the gondola cabins that were supposed to arrive in Breckenridge two weeks ago ended up in Illinois, McCarthy said, adding that the cabins are now on their way via semi-truck. The Crystal Peak Lodge will be the first building constructed as part of the Peaks of Breckenridge real estate development project that goes hand-in-hand with the new gondola. Sales begin on the 46 high-end units in December, McCarthy said.McCarthy also mentioned 150 acres of new expert terrain that will open near the Lake Chutes off the Peak 8 summit this season.

Ski season momentum has already begun building at Arapahoe Basin, which was the first Ski area to open in the country last Friday, ending Lovelands six-year streak of holding the title.We finally got those guys from Loveland, Henceroth said. It was an exciting time, and this has just done wonders for us. Not only is it good business to be open an extra week, but the exposure weve gotten has just been unbelievable.In store this season at A-Basin is the completion of the Black Mountain Lodge, an 8,000-square-foot lodge currently under construction at the top of the Exhibition Lift. When its finished this spring, the new restaurant will seat more than 200 people and the kitchen will turn out a new menu that will be a step up from the food served now in the mountains base A-frame, Henceroth said.Another change A-Basin aficionados might notice: The Ski area has renamed its park the Treeline Terrain Park.I think our last name may have run its course, Henceroth joked, referring to the previous Mutha Hucka Terrain Park moniker, which garnered some criticism from the public.Henceroth also looked ahead to next year and the potential to include the 400-acre Montezuma Bowl off The Legends backside. Henceroth said he expects a final decision from the Forest Service on the project in the next two weeks, and he hopes to have a new lift under construction in the bowl by next summer.

Copper Mountain is coming off of a record year for snowfall and visitation, and is off to a great start this year, Rodgers said.Snowmaking crews have started making snow on the Main Vein superpipe, which was a new addition on the mountain last winter, and was the first superpipe to open in North America last year. The resort hopes to have the super-sized halfpipe open before Christmas in plenty of time for the U.S. FreeSkiing Open Championships, a top Skiing competition that will come to Copper from Jan.17-21.Were very excited to have this event, Rodgers said. It will certainly make great use of our superpipe, which is right front and center at the base of the resort. We expect to have some great spectator viewing in that location.Visitors to Copper will also find three new restaurants at the Center Village base this season: Pizza Carlo, which fills the spot left by Blue Moose Pizza, The Covered Bridge Grille, which replaces Alexanders on the Creek, and Incline Bar & Grill, a new venture between three Frisco restaurateurs in the old Lazy Lizard space.Rodgers gave the audience an update on the pending sale of Intrawest, which owns Copper Mountain, to New York-based Fortress Investment Group, saying shareholders approved the sale on Tuesday, and that the deal should be complete by the end of the month.Its a very exciting time in our company, its one of a lot of uncertainty, but I think its going to be very positive for not only the company as whole but also for the team here in Colorado, he said.Rodgers said that the sale shouldnt stall plans for future capital improvements on the mountain like the Tucker Mountain lift and a gondola and learning center at Union Creek.Rodgers also mentioned Coppers new environmental initiatives, including a decision to offset 100 percent of the mountains electricity use with renewable energy credits.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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