What's New for the 2012-2013 Ski Season
|The new Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass, Colorado (Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Company)|
As we prepare for winter 2012, plenty of good news is flowing downhill from North America’s top ski resorts. New terrain, expanded lift service, improved snowmaking, and increased entertainment and après ski offerings promise indelible days and unforgettable nights for those dedicated to the pursuit of powder. There are even a few relative bargains to be had, ranging from free kids days at Keystone in Colorado to the coveted discount Mountain Collective multi-resort ticket offered by Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Aspen/Snowmass, Alta, and Jackson Hole. Here’s a rundown of cool new developments.
You will not find a bigger party than what Vail has in store this season. With a breathtaking 5,000-plus acres of terrain, the storied Colorado resort celebrates 50 years in business by launching a new deluxe, high-speed gondola. Replacing the Vista Bahn Express in Vail Village, the new lift is said to be the fastest of its type in the world, traveling 1,200 feet per minute, cutting travel time to Mid-Vail to 7.5 minutes, and increasing the uphill capacity of the lift by 40 percent. Per usual, Vail spared no expense on the new gondola, which boasts Wi-Fi and heated, cushioned seating for up to 10 passengers. Can you tweet Happy Birthday?
Befitting the occasion, Vail will also host Wilco and other rockers in mid-December for this year’s edition of Snow Daze, and the electronic wizardry of the Thievery Corporation for a New Year’s Eve concert. In the meantime, the resort wrestled the Burton Snowboarding Open from the East Coast (competition kicks off February 25). Other new Vail developments include two new kids’ Adventure Zone terrain parks, the swank Vail Solaris condo complex in Vail Village, completed last year, complete with fine dining, lounges, a movie theater, and a bowling alley, and the brand-new restaurant The 10th, an upscale eatery located on the mountain.
Not wanting to be left out in the cold, Vail’s sibling resort Beaver Creek has added 17 acres of terrain and 30 acres of snowmaking, part of its preparation to host the FIS 2015 World Alpine Championships. The Vail-based Ski Girls Rock, a program supported by Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn (who has petitioned authorities to ski against men in downhill events this year), expands to Beaver Creek, offering young women the ages of 7 through 16 intensive training from female instructors. At Breckenridge, a debate rages over a controversial 550-acre expansion known as Peak 6, which could be available 2013-14. For now, Breck offers advanced skiers and riders a new quad-busting tour: the Peak-to-Peak Challenge.
Elsewhere in Colorado, Durango Mountain Resorts offers a down-home alternative whether visitors are in the mood for schussing or schmoozing. DMR, still known to long-time fans as Purgatory, finished a four-year expansion last year, including 140 acres of gladed expert runs on the back side of its namesake and two new terrain parks. The resort also spent $50 million on improvements to its base area and lodge. In addition, DMR is one of 13 U.S. resorts to launch a new Rossi Experience Center, a rental and clinic facility offering state-of-the-art, all-mountain gear and lessons for skiers of all ages.
The Aspen/Snowmass family of resorts is keeping pace with some $15.5 million in improvements, including 237 additional acres of gladed meadows on Burnt Mountain at Snowmass. There’s also a new $7 million Tieback quad lift. Increased slopeside dining options include the local offerings at the new Element 47 at the Little Nell Hotel in Aspen, and the new LEED-certified Elk Camp, a 300-seat, $13-million on-mountain eatery at Snowmass.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication