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While the uncertainty of COVID-19 put plans on pause for many of us across the world, a handful of ski areas forged ahead with planned capital improvements in advance of the 2020/2021 ski season. A ton goes on at ski resorts during the summer, like trail maintenance, parking lot design/changes, and general maintenance, but that stuff isn’t something for resort marketing teams to talk about. Let’s talk about the fun stuff! The stuff you see on Instagram. The stuff that makes you say “ooohhh” and “ahhh” when you arrive at your favorite resort and see an upgrade has been made. We’re talking about the capital upgrades when bigger (or faster) IS better, like high speed quads and new lodges. Let’s look at 6 resorts that have worked hard this summer to improve your experience on-mountain.

Nordic Valley, Utah

Nordic Valley lift installation
PHOTO CREDIT: Marshal McGonegal, from Nordic Valley Ski Area

This summer Nordic Valley ski area in Utah unveiled plans to install the ski area’s first high speed chairlift with a six-passenger detachable from Leitner-Poma. The new lift will be Nordic Valley’s first new chair in 20+ years, with the ability to move 2,500 people per hour up the hill. In addition to the new chair, trail projects at Nordic Valley will open up 300 acres of new skiable terrain. The owners of Nordic Valley, Mountain Capital Partners, have been focused heavily on capital improvements at its portfolio properties this summer.

Arizona Snowbowl, Arizona

Arizona Snowbowl, also owned by Mountain Capital Partners, will be home to a new Agassiz Chairlift. The current chair, which has been running for 34 (!) years, will be replaced with a modern, combination high-speed lift for the 2020-21 season, including both six-packs and gondolas. The new lift will be able to move skiers up the mountain in just half the time as the old lift. 

Arizona Snowbowl lift installation
PHOTO CREDIT: Leitner-Poma via Arizona Snowbowl

Holiday Valley, New York

Holiday Valley Resort announced $2.9 million in investment for improvement projects the upcoming winter season. Improvements for this season include a new Pisten Bully 600 Grooming Tractor, improvements to the snowmaking system, the next phase of their slope lighting project, and more. Over the next few years, several new lifts will be installed as well. Ok, but this snowmaking upgrade is actually really cool! The project added 20 snowguns and automation to the Mistletoe area, allowing snowmakers to remotely start up and shut down the snowguns quickly in that area. Snowmaking is key to many ski areas operations, and better snowmaking means better skiing for you!

Lake Louise, Alberta

Lake Louise has a big project underway – to open 480 acres of new high alpine, advanced terrain in the West Bowl. This terrain will be accessible by a Doppelmayr fixed grip quad replacing the old Summit Platter. Ski Big 3 has noted, however, that although the West Bowl will now be inbounds terrain, skiers should continue to carry avalanche safety gear in this area due to the nature of the terrain.

Lake Louise West Bowl Fast Facts
PHOTO CREDIT: Lake Louise Ski Resort

Timberline Mountain, West Virginia

Timberline Mountain committed $10M in capital improvements for the 2020-2021 season. A new 6-passenger lift, the first of its kind in West Virginia, will quickly take skiers to the top of the mountain, while a 4-passenger mid-mountain lift will provide access to beginner and intermediate terrain. In addition to the lift, other upgrades include a re-graded learning area with a conveyor carpet lift, upgrades to the snowmaking system, a fully remodeled rental shop, and a refreshed outdoor area.

Sun Valley, Idaho

By the time lifts are turning this winter, skiers will have access to an additional 380 new acres of new terrain, as part of a project that started in 2018 at Sun Valley. A new high speed quad will replace the resort’s oldest chairlift and open up some of Baldy’s best terrain, including a huge bowl and lots of tree skiing. As part of the project, 25 snowmaking guns will also be installed in the area.

Sun Valley New Terrain Map
PHOTO CREDIT: Sun Valley

Do you have plans to visit one of these ski areas this winter? Which? Tell us in the comments.

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