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Colorado skier visits stabilize during the heart of the season

Good late-season snow conditions should help Colorado ski areas bounce back partially from a so-so start to the season.

Good late-season snow conditions should help Colorado ski areas bounce back partially from a so-so start to the season.

Ski trade group reports slight increase from last season for the January-February period

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After dropping steeply last season and the first part of this winter, Colorado skier visits stabilized during the past few months, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

The state’s ski industry trade group said skier visits at its 21 member resorts climbed 1.3 percent during January and February, compared to the same two months last season.

For the season to-date, visitation at CSCUSA resorts was down 4.2 percent compared to the same time last season, defined as opening day through February 28. Continue reading

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Vail Ski Area revamps management of Prima Cornice terrain after last winter’s deadly inbounds avalanche

Resort says it will use more ropes and signage when needed to discourage uphill traffic and warn of potential hazards

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A diagram prepared by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center shows the approximate locations of various gates used to access Prima Cornice at Vail Ski Area.

*Read more Summit Voice coverage of the inbounds avalanche deaths at Vail and Winter Park here.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With the discovery phase of a trial over last year’s inbounds avalanche death of a teenage skier under way, Vail Resorts this week announced that it has changed the way ski patrollers manage the Vail Ski Area terrain where the deadly incident occurred.

Based on its own review of the avalanche on Prima Cornice, Vail officials said there may be times when patrollers use more ropes and signage to indicate closures and potential danger. The changes were instituted at the start of this season, according to a statement from Vail Resorts.

“Vail Resorts takes safety as its highest priority, and we continually re-evaluate and adapt based on new information or changing skier behavior. The Company remains a defendant in a lawsuit concerning this incident and will not be making additional comments. We remain incredibly saddened by the events of that day, and our deepest sympathy continues to go out to the family of Taft Conlin,” the company said in it statement. Continue reading

Colorado: Vail Resorts says mid-winter business rebounded

Major capital investments announced for upcoming seasons

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts said business bounced back after a slow start to the season, with some of the company’s resorts posting record business during the Christmas holiday period. VR’s net income climbed 30.5 percent, to $60.5 million in the second fiscal quarter compared to last season, with skier visits up 2.9 percent and mountain net revenue up by 9.5 percent.

“We are very pleased with our performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, which was notable for two distinct dynamics we experienced in the quarter,” VR CEO Rob Katz said this week during a call announcing the company’s second quarter earnings. “The first was our results through the middle of December, which were marked by unusually warm and dry weather in Colorado that limited the terrain we could open, leading to lower than expected results for our four Colorado resorts.  Continue reading

Skiing: U.S. skiers take halfpipe gold, silver at FIS World Freestyle Ski Championships in Oslo, Norway

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Wise, Yater-Wallace atop podium

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — American skiers took the top two podium spots at the FIS World Freestyle Ski Championships halfpipe competition, with David Wise unleashing twin doubl-corked 1260s to take the gold, and Torin Yater-Wallace throwing down an alley-oop double-corked 1080 for second place. Full results are online here.

The U.S. duo delivered a clinic on the state of today’s halfpipe skiing Tuesday under the lights of the Oslo Vinterpark, with the ladies competition also showcasing strong skiing from the 12th place qualifier right through to the top.

“It’s a serious honor … That was one of the most exciting finals I’ve ever been a part of,” Wise said. “To come out here and have a true World Championships, with all the world’s best, to be standing on the top is a huge honor and I’m so grateful.” Continue reading

Skiing: World freestyle championships start in Norway

Freestyle skiers are competing in the 2013 FIS World Freestyle Championships in Norway. Bob Berwyn photo.

Freestyle skiers are competing in the 2013 FIS World Freestyle Championships in Norway. Bob Berwyn photo.

U.S. skiers bidding for medals in halfpipe event today

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The FIS World Alpine Ski Championships are over, but freestyle skiers are just getting started at the 2013 Voss/Oslo Freestyle World Ski Championships, with the halfpipe finals to be held tonight under the lights at the Oslo Vinterpark superpipe located just outside of the Norwegian capital. Follow the competition at the live score website.

North Americans skiers were among the top qualifiers, including Canadian Matt Margetts (CAN), who put down the best run of the day early in the morning, using his first run of the first heat to score an impressive 90.0. Margett’s run wasn’t nearly the most technical one seen in the qualifications, his combination of massive amplitude, spotless execution, and smooth style was just enough to edge his nearest competitor. Continue reading

Skiing: Vail, Beaver Creek plan lift upgrades

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on planned infrastructure improvements at Vail and Beaver Creek.

Eagle County resorts to add some six-seater lifts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts is looking to boost uphill capacity at its Eagle County resorts by replacing a few aging quad chairlifts with six-seaters, as well as making a few other on-mountain infrastructure improvements. The upgrades are consistent with previously approved master plans for Vail and Beaver Creek, but the U.S. Forest Service is taking  public input on the projects before approving them. Continue reading

Skiing: Backcountry snowpack touchy in Colorado

Monthly Breckenridge ski patrol talk to focus on backcountry travel techniques and terrain choices

There's plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it's best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

There’s plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it’s best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

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CAIC forecaster Tim Brown examines the crown face of a large avalanche in Montezuma Bowl, at Arapahoe Basin. Photo courtesy CAIC.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With forecasters warily eying backcountry avalanche hazards and more snow on the way this week, Breckenridge ski patrollers will focus on safe backcountry travel techniques, route-finding and terrain selection during their monthly talk this Thursday evening (Village at Breckenridge, Tenmile Room, 6 p.m.).

The topic is especially timely following recent close calls and a cycle of natural slides in the backcountry, said Breckenridge ski patroller Matt Krane. Last week, a party of four backcountry travelers were involved with a sizable slide on Peak 6. Continue reading

Fresh stash in Colorado: A-Basin’s ‘Zuma Bowl opens

‘Every rope drop is a gift this year’

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First-ever day of lift-served skiing in Arapahoe Basin’s Montezuma Bowl. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — As a long-time western skier, I’ve seen several feast-and-famine snow cycles, when every rope-drop becomes a precious gift from the stingy snow gods. So my heart skipped a beat when A-Basin announced it’s opening Montezuma Bowl today (Wednesday, Feb. 13).

The big, generally south-facing cirque opens a whole new dimension at A-Basin, with long traverses and ridge-line glides leading to craggy drops, long fall-line gullies and a variety of  tree slots, with funky fall lines and hidden stashes. Down the center of Zuma Bowl, the cruisers come with wide views of the heart of Summit County, the trails of Breckenridge and Keystone visible in the distance.

A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth skied the terrain last weekend, reporting good conditions in his Sunday blog post, then announced the bowl will open at 12 p.m. with skiing on Columbine, Shining Light, Ned’s Cache, Independence, and Upper Larkspur.

In the past few weeks, snow has piled up at the Basin, with some of the most recent storms favoring the north-facing terrain along the Continental Divide, and another surge of moist air from the northwest could enable the ski area to open more Montezuma Bowl terrain soon, Henceroth wrote.

Colorado: Loveland fires up ridge-top snowcat tours

First session scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8

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A new ridge-top snowcat service will ease access to some of Lovelend’s best terrain.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After some trial runs last year, Loveland Ski Area says it’s ready to fire up its new snowcat ridge tours for full-time operation, offering skiers and snowboarders easier access to some of the tasty terrain along the Continental Divide, topping out around 13,000 feet.

Ski area reps said the first snowcat ridge run is tentatively slated for 10 a.m. Friday (Feb. 8), with all operations dependent on weather and snow conditions. Best of all, the cat service is free, although passengers will need to sign a waiver and obtain a special snowcat pass at the base area ticket office. Continue reading

Skiing: Kirkwood launches snowcat tours for the season

Out-of-bounds treks focus on backcountry education

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Kirkwood guests experience some sweet Sierra backcountry with a snowcat tour. Photo courtesy Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After picking up more than 260 inches of snow this season, Kirkwood Mountain Resort says its ready to launch its out-of-bounds cat-skiing trips for the late winter and spring season, with E:K Cat Tours taking advanced skiers and riders on an adventure to hunt down fresh turns with a focus on backcountry education and safety.

“Expedition:Kirkwood is the West Coast’s largest avalanche awareness and backcountry certification program, but what we’re really known for are the cat tours,” said Casey Blann, Kirkwood’s general manager. “This program is for the advanced skiers and riders who are looking for a completely unique resort experience. Not only gaining the skills for skiing and riding steep terrain, but hang on as your cat operator navigates his way up a road that’s not for the faint of heart.” Continue reading

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