Resort Report: Improvements, another resort record and summer snow

In the high peaks of America's ski areas, it is improvement time again. Big Sky and Park City announced major new upgrades, including new runs and a new lift. And A-Basin reported that in a season of records, the Colorado area blew away its previous skier visit mark.

With all of the snow finally melting in the Rockies, the short window for on-mountain improvements has opened and lots of big name areas are stepping up their game on the slopes. Big Sky Resort is expanding its gladed tree runs by adding five new ski trials with 20-plus acres of new terrain that will open on Andesite Mountain for the 2011/12 winter season. The new trails will be accessible off of the Ramcharger Chairlift. “The amount of land here is massive, and we’re always looking for opportunities to grow and make the most of it," said Mike Unruh, Big Sky Resort's mountain manager. "These new runs on Andesite are going to make for truly exceptional glade skiing.”

And Park City Mountain Resort is investing more than $7 million in improvements for the 2011/12 winter season, including the addition of a dedicated beginner learning area serviced by two conveyor lifts, and replacement of the Three Kings double chair with a fixed triple-chair that will double skier and rider-carrying capacity to the Three Kings Terrain Park.

A-Basin reports record season

Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer and vice president of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area told Bob Berwyn of the Summit County Voice that the area enjoyed about 450,000 skier visits this past season, breaking the previous record by about 20,000 visits. On his blog at the A-Basin website, Henceroth wrote that some of the highlights for the past year include:

-We built and opened Black Mountain Express.

-We received 473" of snow, tied for the second best season on record.

-For 8 straight months, October thru May, the monthly snowfall was well above average each month.

-The skiing and riding was tremendous all season long.

-We were open from October 25 thru July 4. Open to close was 253 days and we were actually open 237 of those days.

-Montezuma Bowl was open 5 1/2 months, December 18 thru June 5. In its 4 year history, that was the earliest opening day and the latest closing day.

-The East Wall had an amazing hiking season.

-We hit a 100" base on March 16 (and on many days thereafter).

-We set an April record for snowfall, 87".

Aspen Ski Co hires Christian Knapp

Aspen Skiing Company has hired Christian Knapp as vice president of marketing. Knapp has worked in the ski/snowboard industry for 15 years, starting in 1996 at Mt. Bachelor, and since 1998 with Vail Resorts. He was instrumental in executing the Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding, Superpark and Cutter’s Cup, and setting up Breckenridge’s first Freeride Team. In 2007, he was promoted to head up marketing efforts for Keystone Resort and charged with repositioning the brand as a premier family destination. 

Attitash turns on snowgun for summer guests

With the record heatwaves that started sweeping across New England the week of July 18, 2011, some ski areas were looking for novel ways to help their guests beat the heat. At Attitash Mountain Resort in New Hampshire, the staff turned on one of the base area snowmaking fans to help provide a little winter-styled respite from the temps. Attitash Mountain Resort has on occasion utilized a few of the technologically advance snowmaking fan guns to “water the lawn” during the early morning hours.

LSSM launches new website

A newly revised website for Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM) officially launched on July 26, with features that make it easy for consumers to find information on how to get involved in skiing and snowboarding. The site offers information and links on learning programs at more than 300 ski areas and resorts. It can locate ski areas/resorts and retail shops via its new search engine element. “Helps make it easy for consumers to engage,” said Mary Jo Tarallo, LSSM executive director.

--Peter Kray

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