What’s New at Ski Resorts for 2008-2009
by Mitch Kaplan
It's the snowsliders' question that burns from the moment a nip appears in the air: what's new at the ski areas for this season? Has our favorite resort added terrain, a chairlift, new programs or at least fixed the parking lot? We're consumers, after all, and we want new, bigger, better, more, improved and different.
Let's have a look around North America and see what some of the major snowsliding resorts have been up to since last season's melt off. Here's what's new for 2008-2009.
Mount Snow, VT: The entire Carinthia Mountain face will be dedicated to freestyle this year, including 95 acres of jumps, rails and halfpipes, a revamped base lodge, a skateboard ramp, a hike-able park and indoor lounge area.
Smugglers’ Notch, VT: Added more glade sliding on Madonna Mountain with Attitude. Most of Smuggs’ glades have received a thorough trimming and the Hibernator Trail on Morse Highlands now offers beginners a direct line top to bottom.
Stowe, VT: A new, slopeside luxury hotel and spa, and the new Spruce Base Camp, Stowe Mountain Resort’s central source for skier and snowboarder services, both open.
Stratton Mountain Resort, VT: Six new glades and trails open in the Sunbowl. A new terrain park cat will help to build innovative rails and features at the Tyrolienne Slopestyle course for freestylers.
Killington, VT: Killington celebrates its 50th birthday on Dec. 13, 2008 with more than $8.4 million in on-mountain improvements, including the new Skye Peak Express chairlift, ski new trails and The Burton Stash, an all natural terrain park with 34 features, which is one of only four that exist worldwide and the only one on the East Coast.
Sugarbush, VT: A half million dollar expansion to Sugarbush’s two-year old Gate House lodge includes a slopeside deck with a BBQ and fire pit. Full-moon skiing, snowshoeing and springtime cat skiing will be offered at Mt. Ellen.
Okemo, VT: The final two trails of the Jackson Gore layout open, both double-black-diamonds. Mechanized loading and unloading carpets will operates on one of its South Ridge fixed-grip quad chairs. The loading carpet, often seen in Europe, is a rarity in North America.
Loon Mountain, NH: As part of the ongoing South Peak expansion, two additional trails will be opened this winter with a total of 14 acres of additional terrain. The handle tow on Sarsparilla is being replaced with a more beginner-friendly magic carpet lift. The handle tow will then be moved to the upper part of the trail allowing those whose abilities have progressed to try something new without having to get on a chairlift yet if they’re not ready.
Bretton Woods, NH: A new spa and conference center opens in the Mt. Washington Hotel, as does year-round Canopy Tours, which consist of a 1,000 ft. descent utilizing zip-lines, suspension bridges and hiking trails. The Kinderwoods Playground has been expanded with the installation of a rope tow and sledding hill, fire pit and new playground equipment.
Cranmore Mountain, NH: Several new trails are being added, including Tommy’s Trail, an intermediate trail off of East Slope, Oompah Flats, a connector trail between Artist Fall’s and South Slope, Roundabout, an intermediate trail off Snowtrain, and Gibson Chutes a new gladed area off of Gibson.
Cannon Mountain, NH: Six glades and a trail are new this winter. One of the additional glades and the new trail will be located in the Tuckerbrook Family Area, bringing the total in this area to fourteen trails and glades. The additional glades will be located on the upper mountain including four expert and one intermediate glade.
Crotched Mountain, NH: A new area of glades has been cleared and named Solstice Glades.
Pats Peak, NH: Snowmaking now covers 100 percent of the area, and all terrain is open for night skiing, with lighting added to Tornado Trail, giving Pats the most and steepest double black diamond trails available for night skiing in northern New England. A new gladed area is being cut between the East Wind and Duster trail.
Gore Mountain, NY: The Burnt Ridge Mountain Expansion features the debut of the high-speed Burnt Ridge Quad, servicing five new trails plus glades. The new terrain, with 1,436' vertical, will increase Gore Mountain's total vertical drop to 2300', the eighth greatest in the eastern United States.
Lake Placid/Whiteface Mountain, NY: In new terrain to be known as Lookout Mountain, Whiteface will open an expert run and triple chair to the east of the Slides. More trails are planned for the future.
Sugarloaf, ME: More than $5 million in improvements include enhanced snowmaking capacity, redesigned terrain parks, and upgrades to on-mountain facilities, including snowmaking. A new terrain park landscape includes an advanced terrain park on Haywire, a beginner park on Whiffletree, a newly designed Superpipe, and a permanent boardercross/skiercross course called Sidewinder.
Sunday River, ME: Sunday River installs the first Chondola in the Northeastern U.S., a hybrid, 6-passenger lift that carries gondola cabins at regular intervals (one of just four in North America), to transport people from the South Ridge Base Area to the summit of North Peak, a location from which six of Sunday River’s eight peaks are directly accessible. New trails have been cut from the summit of North Peak.
Saddle Back, ME: A quad chairlift replaces the Kennebago T-bar, providing easy access to the East’s largest self-contained advanced skiing complex. Three advanced trails were added in the summer, meaning that the new lift services 12 top-to-bottom advanced skiing runs, seven black diamonds and five double black diamonds. And, now, novices and intermediates can ski from the summit for the first time. Hornberg (green circle) is a new easier trail in the South Branch beginner/family area which also provides access to ski-in ski-out trails for the South Branch and Mountain Brook condominiums.
Blue Mountain Ski Area, PA: A new trail Dreamweaver is set to open, a half-mile long intermediate level trail that’s 100 feet wide and has automated snowmaking and lights installed throughout. The snowtubing park will have a new conveyor lift doubling uphill capacity, allowing for more tubes and tubing lanes.
Camelback, PA: Camelback becomes the only Pennsylvania resort to be a Burton women’s, youth and Freestyle Learn-to-Ride Center. Camelback also adds new lighting and 500 feet of vertical to its terrain parks and pipes.
Big Boulder Ski Area, PA: The Tannenbaum slope has been converted to a new terrain park.
Shawnee Mountain, PA: Snow features, more innovative rails and improved jump lines have been added in both the novice Incubator Park and the advanced Bushkill Park.
Mont Saint-Sauveur, PQ: A new quad chair equipped with a loading carpet replaces the triple chair.
Ski Morin Heights, PQ: Known for its glades and natural atmosphere, Ski Morin Heights introduces a new trails aimed at 6-12 year-olds. The "364," named for the road that leads to the hill, is a long, 20-foot wide corridor that winds through the forest.
Boyne Mountain, MI: Boyne replaces the Meadows Chairlift with a higher speed, fixed grip, conveyor load lift. The new lift extends further down the slope requiring less traversing from the south end of the mountain. Boyne built an all-new facility for the SnowSports Academy children’s programs, and Playcare at the base of Boyneland, and the ski area expanded glade skiing terrain north of Disciples and Superbowl trails.
Caberfae Peaks Ski and Golf Resort, MI: Two new jib terrain parks were created, and the MacKenzie Lodge now has Wi-Fi access.
Crystal Mountain Resort, MI: The big news is the Crystal Spa, a $4 million, 13,000-square-foot expansion to the existing indoor pool and fitness center.
The Homestead, MI: Opened Spa Amira—a total mind and body wellness center offering tranquil outdoor gardens and labyrinths, relaxation pools and massage treatments. In the resort’s pedestrian Village, a new state-of-the-art fitness center called New Leaf hopes for an opening by ski season.
Indianhead Mountain, MI, and Big Powderhorn, MI: A combined interchangeable lift ticket called the Hill Hopper is now offered. Each ticket is completely interchangeable, meaning you can "hop" from one ski area to the other without having to buy a new ticket or stop at the ticket office.
Nubs Nob, MI: A new custom-built triple-seat chairlift operates for Pintail Peak.
Pine Mountain, MI: A package called Sunday Family Day will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. It includes lifts and rentals for a family of 4 for $69.
Ski Brule, MI: A new terrain park, adjacent to the bunny hill, named it Bambi Playground will open, and the two terrain parks have been overhauled with new design elements and features.
Shanty Creek Resort, MI: Shanty Creek completed a $10 million hotel renovation. The Lakeview Hotel & Conference Center – formerly known as the Summit Village Hotel – was given an upscale "lake house" design with an entirely redesigned lobby, restaurant, lounge and bar, guestrooms, meeting and banquet facilities, including the 9,600 square-foot Grand Ballroom, and other public areas. Summit Mountain’s 12 slopes will re-open this winter with several terrain and equipment upgrades. The tubing park was moved to the backside of Schuss Mountain and enlarged with more and longer lanes.
Buck Hill, MN: Taking the initiative to teach more people to ski/ride, they’ve replaced a 1954 J-Bar and a beginner area rope tow with an 800-foot Magic Carpet conveyor lift at the beginner’s area that features a fiberglass canopy.
Lutsen Mountains, MN: A new triple chairlift debuts, running from the base area to the Eagle Mountain summit, increasing Eagle Mountain’s north-facing Most Difficult runs’ capacity by 30 percent and easing demand for Bridge Lift to the summit of Eagle Mountain. Also, The Plunge, which is as steep as any run in North America, will reopen this season and be winch-cat groomed.
Welch Village Resort, MN: The new Back Bowl slopes will open with a new four-passenger chairlift and twelve new, snowmaking-served slopes. Layout of the slopes includes two large bowl areas plus several sharply pitched most difficult runs, and a long connecting valley with an interesting fall line.
Wild Mountain, MN: The beginner learning area has been re designed with the addition of a 100 foot conveyor lift on Dandy (northern beginner hill), making the ride up truly beginner friendly.
Cascade Mountain Ski Area, WI: New terrain parks—The Rail Yard Park and The North Park—will open, and beginner terrain park lessons will be offered.
Crested Butte, CO: The new Kids Base Camp will be an exciting themed program that will include exploration and adventure both on- and off-mountain. A central, ski-in/out ski valet and overnight ski, snowboard and boot valet service will be free to all resort hotel guests or to other guests for a nightly fee. Elevation Hotel & Spa completes its $25 million re-model. Snow Igloos will sprout up for apres-ski cocktails and adventure kids’ play areas. Terrain off the Headwall lift into the Teocalli bowl area has expanded into what is known as Teo-2 and Teo-2.5, which will add additional expert terrain to the mix; and a completely new intermediate terrain park will be added.
Monarch Mountain, CO: A kids’ terrain park Tilt is new this year; it’ll also be a great place for beginners to get terrain park experience. Also, 200 acres of new terrain has been added to the Snowcat area.
Telluride Ski Resort, CO: Revelation Bowl opens. This 400-acres, European-style, above-treeline terrain, located directly off the back side of Gold Hill and Chair 14, will be served by a quad lift. Steeper pitches and rock features are found on the far sides of the powder bowl. The center touts an expanse of rolling, advanced terrain with a groomed path for cruising. All told, the resort expand by nearly 400 acres this year.
Winter Park, CO: The resort’s new base Village is slated to open by December, featuring new retail and restaurants, and the Village Cabriolet lift, which will transport visitors from the bottom of the village to the slopes. New programming includes nighttime snow cycle excursions from 6-9pm Fridays and Saturdays; Willie’s Birthday Party in which Winter Park Willie, the resort's moose mascot hosts a three-hour private lesson for a total of seven people, with lunch and cake, and delivers your presents along with a gift for all participants!; and, Kids Night Out for ages 5-13 in which special indoor and outdoor activities entertain children for the evening while parents get time to themselves.
Aspen/Snowmass, CO: Snowmass has a new detachable quad chairlift, the Sheer Bliss chair, serving 700 acres in the Big Burn area of black-diamond glades and wide-open blue cruisers. Hayden Lodge and Capitol Peak Lodge now offer the first luxury condos to be built in Snowmass in 20 years. Aspen Highlands has added acres of skiing and riding in the Deep Temerity area of the mountain called Canopy Cruiser. Aspen Mountain’s base has an improved gondola plaza. Buttermilk Mountain, home to the ESPN Winter X Games, gets a new Olympic-size superpipe.
Copper Mountain, CO: Copper Mountain and Camp Woodward are bringing the innovative instructional practices of Woodward to snowboarding and skiing at Woodward at Copper. Progressive teaching tools inside the multi-million dollar training facility include trampolines, foam pits, resi-padding and bungee systems, all of which will allow athletes to push the limits of their own abilities and sports, in a safe, supported environment.
Echo Mountain, CO: Denver’s closest skiing/riding, expands in Westside Glades. They’ll also debut three signature features: a Wood Wave, the 686 Tree Bridge and a Burton/Echo staircase, bringing elements of street riding to Echo's Junkyard. Mountain improvements will also include an expanded LC1 designated beginner learning area and the installation of a Magic Carpet surface lift.
Powderhorn, CO: Two trails have been added. Both are expert runs on the mountain's West End. Along with new terrain, a new Magic Carpet surface lift have been installed in the ski school learning area.
Brighton Resort, UT: Brighton Resort has built a new day lodge called the Milly Chalet at the base of the Milly high speed quad.
The Canyons Resort, UT: The new Frostwood gondola will transport guests staying in the Frostwood area, which includes the Miners Club, the currently under construction Dakota Mountain Lodge, and all other development projects in the area to the resort base. A brand new fixed grip quad chair will run from the Tombstone base to a location approximately one-half mile below the DreamCatcher lift base. day. Trees will be gladed in places such as Mystic Pines, off of the Peak 5 lift, opening up more tree-skiing and riding for guests.
Park City Mountain Resort, UT: A new high-speed quad chair lift, Crescent lift, replaces and realigns the existing Ski Team lift, significantly increasing accessibility out of the base area, as well as to the front-side runs, some of the Resort’s best advanced terrain. Terrain enhancements include a new run addition and expanded snowmaking.
Snowbasin, UT: The Little Cat lift, which serviced beginner terrain, has been replaced with a new detachable quad that starts above Earl’s Lodge and ends at the upper parking lot.
Solitude Mountain Resort, UT: Two new high-speed chairlifts commencing from each base area have been installed. Apex Express will replace the existing Apex double and provide access to the heart of the mountain. Moonbeam Express allows novices much easier loading and unloading experience.
Taos Ski Valley, NM: A new double black-diamond run named North American and a new beginners’ hill open during this season and next, the first terrain expansion at Taos in many years. The new 400-foot beginners’ area is called The Burrough; it will be served by a moving carpet. And, of course, snowboarders are now welcome at Taos.
Jackson Hole, WY: The new aerial tram launches. It’ll be twice the size of the original, carrying 100 passengers, traveling 4,139 vertical feet in 9 minutes to the Rendezvous Mountain summit. Four Seasons Jackson Hole introduces the S’mores Bar in which guests create their own ultimate s’mores poolside.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort, CA: Two lifts have been added. The Lookout Vista lift replaces the hike to the famed chutes of Thunder Saddle along with access to the snowfields and cliff bands of Sunnyside for those headed to the resort’s backside. The Covered Wagon lift gains access to the highest point crossed on the historic Mormon Emigrant Trail along with pristine powder stashes on Fawn Ridge and backcountry access when the gates are open. Additionally, the resort is installing a new Wonder Carpet lift in the Timber Creek beginner’s area. Kirkwood is also revamping its three terrain park layouts with upgraded features and more progressive elements.
Mammoth Mountain, CA: Horizon Air will offer new daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Mammoth Mountain starting Dec. 18. The resort has expanded terrain, new Adventure Zones and enhanced snowmaking. Four Adventure Zones will complement the Family Fun Parks. These new runs will be fun tracks built into the trees featuring a variety of berms, rollers and small bumps.
Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA: The ski area boundaries have been widened, increasing the total skiable acreage by 414 acres. The new Martis Camp Express lift (formerly Lookout Express) will be a high-speed quad located at the base of Northstar Resort’s Lookout Mountain. The lift line will be increased from 2,822 lineal feet to 5,128 lineal feet, with an increase in vertical drop from 1,247 feet to 1,722 feet, and will create new skiing and riding terrain. Three existing advanced ski trails on Lookout Mountain are also being extended into Martis Camp: Prosser, Stampede and Martis, with snowmaking to be extended on Prosser and Martis. A new intermediate trail named Washoe has been added that will also terminate at the base of the Martis Camp Express lift. The Village at Northstar will welcome new retailers and restaurants.
Heavenly Resort, CA/NV: Three new trails will debut in California this season; two in Ski Ways glades and another in Powderbowl Woods. Heavenly is glading the trails, leaving tree islands far enough apart to groom the run and giving upper-intermediate to advanced skiers/snowboarders, a groomed, tree-skiing experience. In Nevada, look for more on-mountain, indoor seating at East Peak Lodge.
Mt. Bachelor, OR: 150 acres of skiable terrain have been added, and access to the ski area has been improved by the construction of a new Park-N-Ride facility in nearby Bend, purchase of an additional Park-N-Ride Super Shuttle Bus, and development of a new heated walkway at Sunrise Lodge.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC: The gondola will extend an additional 885 feet to the village site, making Revelstoke Mountain Resort the longest lift-serviced vertical descent in North America at 5,620 feet. The village will be completed with a full-service restaurant; retail and rental shops; lift ticket and skier facilities; and additional parking. The first of three buildings in Nelsen Lodge will open with 56 condo units, ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms. A new high-speed quad chairlift in the North Bowl area will open 900 acres of intermediate terrain (trails and trees), and 300 acres of expert skiing. Extended glading and trail cutting will expand both the ski area and the existing 500,000 acres of Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing terrain. Cat skiing terrain will increase to 2,210 acres. Revelstoke Mountain Resort will become the only resort in the world to offer lift-skiing, cat-skiing and helicopter skiing right from the village base.
Whistler Blackcomb, BC: The Peak-to-Peak Gondola opens in December, uniting the two mountains with a gondola that sets world records for length and height. It travels 4.4 kilometers in just 11 minutes, transporting guests, in 28 sky cabins each holding up to 28 people, from Whistler’s Roundhouse Lodge to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain.
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...... Mitch Kaplan
is the author of The Unofficial Guide to the Mid-Atlantic with Kids, The Cheapskate’s Guide to Myrtle Beach and The Golf Book of Lists. He is a contributor to The Unofficial Guide to New England & New York with Kids and to the annual guide Ski America & Canada.