Potential Game Changers Arrive at These Resorts
Sometimes the same old, same old, no matter how great it may be, gets a little, well, stale.
There are times when something shiny and new can get the juices flowing a little quicker.
This is especially true in the ski and snowboard world, where your favorite hill could be the best resort on the planet but you’re always looking for the next whatever to make it even more so.
With that in mind, here are a dozen U.S. resorts that have made some intriguing off-season additions that will make their debut in the 2019-20 season — and perhaps put a little more zip in your on-snow experience.
A potential game-changer is happening at Squaw Valley’s sister resort with the extension and replacement of an existing lift to the top of Sherwood Ridge (photo above). The new lift, a high-speed quad dubbed Treeline Cirque, will whisk riders from Alpine’s base area to the ridge top in 5 minutes and provide access to the many tasty chutes and faces off the ridge that were previously gained by a couple of lift rides. It will also cut down drastically the time it takes to get to the popular intermediate playground known as Sherwood Bowl.
The Boat plunked down $15 million to replace the old Thunderhead gondola with a speedier and more spacious model. The new version will take skiers and boarders up to Thunderhead Lodge about 2 minutes quicker than the previous system and boost uphill capacity by more than 30 percent (or about 3,600 riders per hour).
The Tucker Mountain expansion at Copper opens up 273 acres of advanced/expert terrain that was previously accessed by snowcat. The new 3 Bears triple chair, which loads near the base of the existing Blackjack chair, will carry skiers and boarders 1,100 vertical feet to the top of The Taco chute and allow them to enjoy the chutes, glades and 10 double-diamond named runs of the expansion.
The state of New Hampshire is getting its first 8-passenger gondola, courtesy of Bretton Woods. The new transport, which cost $15 million and took two years to complete, will take guests from the base to the summit — a 1,300-foot vertical rise — in just five minutes. And at the top, riders will find a new two-story, 11,000-square-foot dining facility.
Phase II of the complete overhaul of Canyon Lodge, Mammoth’s in-town base area, has come to fruition, with expanded restaurants and improved guest services. Also, The Mill Restaurant, which sits at the base of chairs 2 and 10 and can get quite cramped on bad-weather days, has been expanded by 50 seats.
The 30-year-old Sunnyside triple chair, an iconic lift in Winter Park’s Mary Jane area, has been replaced by a high-speed, six-passenger lift. The new conveyance will cut the ride time by more than half — from 8 minutes to a tick or two under 4 — and increase uphill capacity by 800 riders per hour.
In an effort to keep lift-line waits to less than 10 minutes even on the busiest days, Magic has replaced its two-person, base-to-summit Black lift with a fixed-grip four-seater dubbed the Black Line Quad. As an added bonus, Magic cut another summit area double-diamond run known as Pitch Black.
The first phase of Sunlight’s three-phase, $4 million expansion plan was completed this past summer with extensive glade work in the experts only East Ridge area. Trees and brush were removed in much of the Aligator Alleys and the goading has extended such runs as Deception and Defiance by more than 500 vertical feet.
The Navajo Mountain section of Brian Head now has its own high-speed quad, Navajo Express, which replaces a 30-year-old triple chair. The new lift is part of the resort’s $6 million in off-season improvements, which include new grooming equipment, updated snowmaking and rental shop upgrades.
The resort is embracing the digital age in a big way this season with RFID technology in its passes — Deer Valley heretofore had paper lift tickets that were punched, not scanned, by lift attendants — and new entry gates at its lifts. The resort will also have new digital signage at its disparate base lodges that will give real-time information throughout the resort.
Two new lifts and seven new runs will be available for Schweitzer guests this winter. One lift, Cedar Park Express, is a detachable quad that will provide intermediate skiers and boarder access to the backside North Bowl, while the other, the summit-topping Colbert triple, gives advanced riders quicker access to the Lakeside chutes.
Getting from the center of the Canyons portion of Park City to Canyons Village will be a bit quicker with the installation of the Over And Out lift, a fixed-grip triple that goes from the base of the Tombstone lift to near the top of the Sunrise lift. Speaking of the Tombstone lift, the popular Tombstone BBQ, at the base of said lift, will now have a permanent fixture, with indoor seating for 50.