What's New for the 2012-2013 Ski Season - Page 2

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Ski Beach and the Orange Bubble Lift, Canyons Resort, Utah
Ski Beach and the Orange Bubble Lift, Canyons Resort, Utah  (Justin Olsen/Canyons Resort)

The Rest of the Rockies
In Montana, the Big Sky Resort expanded glade skiing by 35 acres on Andesite and Lone Peak last year, adding to its already Vail-like dimensions. This season, the tree thinning continues, opening up black-diamond slopes in the challenging Dakota Territory and elsewhere (light logging also benefits forest health, says the resort). Book an après-ski appointment at the newly renovated Solace Spa and Salon, which offers health and beauty services such as massage and aromatherapy–even couples treatments.

Utah’s largest resort, The Canyons, has doubled down with a multimillion dollar reinvention (one that landed it a top 10 ski resort on this year’s SKI magazine reader survey for the first time). At the south end of the 4,000-acre resort, Canyon debuts its ninth peak, Iron Mountain, with abundant intermediate and advanced terrain. A 20-million-gallon manmade lake more than doubles the Canyon’s snowmaking capacity, and the resort has made the terrain easier–and cozier–to reach with its heated, enclosed high-speed quad, the Orange Bubble Express, and the new Red Pine Gondola. Noodle-legged skiers and snowboarders can take a break at the recently opened Ski Beach, a gathering area at the base of the new gondola, or refuel at one of nine new restaurants under the direction of executive chef Zeke Wray.

Also from the Beehive State, there’s buzz surrounding Deer Valley’s ritzy, $8 million renovation, where new and improved lifts will increase uphill capacity by 1,200 riders per hour. Low-E, high-efficiency snow guns have expanded snowmaking at Deer Valley’s Empire Canyon, and grooming capacity has been improved with additional machinery, including the Beast Groomer. The acclaimed Snow Park Restaurant has also been updated. Meanwhile, actor and activist Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort increased snowmaking by 40 percent and added a new lift from the parking lot to Maverick Run at mid-mountain.

Far West
Lake Tahoe is sprucing up for its 2026 Olympic bid, and while that remains a while off, you can take advantage of some of the improvements to area resorts right now. As of this year, North Tahoe’s Squaw Valley is also running Alpine Meadows, and the pair of resorts leads the way with a five-year, $70-million resort-wide renovation. Already in its second year, the renovation has resulted in capital improvements, including a timely redesign of the Olympic Plaza Bar and improved snowmaking across both areas. Squaw has also added a new high-speed chair, the Big Blue Express, replaced its outdated Links double with a new triple chair called Mountain Meadow, and even offers an improved tow rope, the Park Pulley.

Not to be outdone, the Vail-owned Tahoe properties Kirkwood Mountain (which the Colorado-based corporation added to its portfolio last April), Northstar, and Heavenly are mixing things up as well. You can get a break on a combined lift ticket for all three resorts with new Tahoe Local season passes, or if Colorado is an additional destination, spring for an Epic Pass. Meanwhile, Northstar has just wrapped up $30 million in improvements on everything from new lifts and snowmaking to expanded glade and intermediate skiing on the Backside, plus a new Burton Riglet Park and the mountain’s newest restaurant, the LEED-certified Zephyr Lodge with seating for 700. New snowcat access to Sawtooth Ridge is another high point this season. On the Nevada side, Heavenly boasts new trails, bringing the resort total to 97 runs. Once you’re done exploring the Heavenly steeps, don’t skip the DJ-fueled party Unbuckle at Tamarack.

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