Resort Report: Crystal record, RIP Dick Reuter, NH upgrade, & more

Crystal Mountain takes it to the limit for summer skiing in this week's Resort Report. Plus a fond farewell to Kirkwood's Dick Reuter, N.H.'s snow gun reload, Paoli Peaks trees held hostage and John Elway on Vail's slopes.

Crystal Mountain Washington’s record ski season will continue for one final day as the area opens for skiing again on July 16, 2011. Marketing Director Tiana Enger told SNEWS® that coverage is getting pretty thin, but there are enough interested skiers to make one more day of it.

“I think we’ll probably have anywhere between 500 to 1,500 people on the mountain, which is what we’ve been averaging on this extended season,” Enger said. “Most of them probably won’t ski all day either, but just come up to say that they were here.” 

The only other time Crystal was open until July 4th was in 1989. That was long before the area installed its new top to bottom gondola, which Enger thinks could ensure more late openings in future season, although maybe not always until the 4th.

“Having the gondola gives a lot of options, at least through Memorial Day Weekend,” Enger said. “Our long term plan is to keep offering extended seasons, but the timing of putting the gondola in and getting more than 600 inches of snow couldn’t have come together much better than this.” 

The gondola is already offering sight-seeing tours, so Enger said it only made sense to turn on the Green Valley summit lift for riders and sell $35 lift tickets. Skiers will have to hike the ridge, and the website offers a warning about dirt and rocks, as well the reminder, “it’s July for crying out loud.” 

Kirkwood co-founder Dick Reuter dies on July 4th

This is from the Kirkwood Mountain Resort website on the death of area co-founder Dick Reuter: The management, ownership, friends and family of Kirkwood Mountain Resort are deeply saddened by the passing of Dick Reuter, part of the original founding team of Kirkwood, World War II veteran and a true “mountain man’s mountain man”. Dick passed away at Kirkwood on July 4th, 2011.

Dick’s mountain resort career began in the late 1950’s in Squaw Valley after a long career as a trapper and logger in the Lassen Park area. Dick initially helped fall trees to clear ski runs at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley and then worked as a ski patrol leader at Squaw Valley during the 1960 Winter Olympics where he met and married his bride, Jeanne and started a family. After the Olympics, Dick went on to become Mountain Manager, cutting many legendary runs, running the avalanche control, and building and maintaining the ski lifts. Enticed by the beautiful mountain at Kirkwood, Bud Klein’s compelling vision, and the significant challenges of starting a brand new resort, Dick moved his family to Kirkwood to start cutting runs and putting in lifts and implementing Kirkwood’s master plan in 1972.

“Dick Reuter was the epitome of a mountain man,” says Dave Myers, VP of Mountain Operations for Kirkwood Mountain Resort who worked with Dick from 1973 until Dick's retirement from Kirkwood. “Any man who thinks of himself as a mountain man need only compare himself to Dick Reuter to realize their own shortcomings. Dick was the driving force behind the hard work that created this fine ski resort.”

It’s snowguns, snowguns, snowguns on NH improvement list

Got more snowguns? Ski New Hampshire certainly will, and as soon as it is cold enough will be able to get winter started with the flick of a switch. No new chairlifts are on the menu, but according to marketing director Alex Stone, that’s because several were added last year, and the state’s ski areas have also shown a shift toward investing in summer business.

“I don’t have the exact numbers, but I would say winter-specific spending is down this year,” Stone told SNEWS. “Mainly because we just had a big couple years with new lifts etc, which seems to be cyclical, and because there has also been a huge move towards investing in summer ops.” From the Granite State’s list of ski area capital improvements, here are some highlights of just how many new guns, runs and lodges will be on the slopes. 

* Loon Mountain - Two new trails are being added to the terrain at South Peak. Snowmaking improvements continue this summer with the addition of 100 new tower guns on the main mountain and 67 new tower guns on South Peak.

* Granite Gorge - A major base lodge addition is underway for the 2011-12 winter. On the hill, significant trail work is being completed with several trails being expanded and trees being removed to open up the terrain. 

* Mount Sunapee - A new glade trail, Beck Brook Glades, is being cut, bringing Mount Sunapee's total to 9 gladed trails. Snowmaking is being added to the Outer Ridge Trail.

* Cranmore - After spending $6 million last summer, more improvements are underway. Forty new high-efficiency snowmaking tower guns are being added.

Trees held hostage in ski terrain dispute

Owners of land leased for part of the Southern Indiana’s Paoli Peaks ski slopes are threatening to harvest the trees in a rent dispute with the owners of the area. The owners of the resort have filed a federal lawsuit claiming the ski business would be severely damaged by the loss of the trees, which block the wind and help to protect the artificially created snow. Timothy D. Boyd, president of Peak Resorts, which owns Paoli Peaks, told the Associated Press, that the owners of the land are trying to force the area to renegotiate the lease. “This isn’t really about the trees, because they’re not going to be worth that much,” Boyd said.

In other news

A former city council member in Ashland who led a protest against the expansion of Mount Ashland Ski Area has been accused of interfering with police and disorderly conduct. The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Eric Navickas is due in court July 19…The family of a Canadian boy whose leg was crushed by a snow groomerat Brighton Ski Resort  in 2008 has until July 18, 2011, to show why their federal lawsuit should not be dismissed…A story in the Denver Post says that Rocky Mountain Wild and other environmental groups are protesting the proposed addition of 550 acres of new high-alpine terrain on Breckenridge Colo.’s Peak 6. The proposed expansion is to ease congestion on the mountain, which is the most congested in the state...Vail Resorts, Inc., announced the planned opening of Elway's restaurant in Vail at The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort, for the 2011-2012 winter ski season. Named for former Denver Bronco quarterback and NFL Hall of Fame Inductee John Elway, Elway's new Vail restaurant will be the company's first location outside of Denver…The Italian Olympic Committee has ruled that the president of the country's winter sports federation Giovanni Morzenti was elected in an irregular vote and removed him from office. Morzenti won the FISI election in April 2010 with 50.6 percent of the votes but a small ski association asked that the election be annulled for irregularities including reported falsely signed ballots.

--Peter Kray

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