FRESH TRACKS – October 6, 2023

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The new Hero’s terrain on Aspen Mountain. Photo: Aspen Snowmass

October Brings Slew Of New Stuff For North American Skiers

The coming month means turkey for Thanksgiving, candy for Halloween and, for skiers, the first dusting of snow. When that happens, everyone gets stoked. For this week’s roundup, a taste of what’s new in Canada and the U.S.—news to fuel the fire.

October is here and with it comes the season’s first snowfall, a ski show, and a slew of updates from North American ski areas. 

Let’s start with Ontario, where Mount St. Louis Moonstone is readying Canada’s first high-speed, eight-pack chairlift, the Adventure8 (also vying for the title is the Fitzimmon’s 8-pack, now nearing completion in Whistler). The D-Line from Doppelmayer will have a special L-shaped drive terminal, making it “like no other chairlift in North America,” says Andre Huter, part owner and director of operations at MSLM. Starting from the Moonstone base lodge, the eight-person lift has the capacity to move 4,250 people per hour and includes heated seats, child-friendly safety bars and footrests, plus a height-adjustable loading carpet, making life easier for ski instructors and parents loading small kids onto the chair. 

Near Collingwood, Blue Mountain Resort is proposing another major hotel expansion, this one by Freed Hotels & Resorts. The group, which also owns Horseshoe, Muskoka Bay and Deerhurst resorts, has filed proposals with the City of the Blue Mountains for three seven-storey buildings with timber-style architecture and peaked rooflines designed by B+H Architects. Among amenities for the condo-hotel: a great room, a second-floor spa, a heated pool and an outdoor deck with a view of the ski runs. 

And in Alberta, autumn turned wintery with Banff’s Sunshine Village reporting area-wide snow in late August and again on September 27. 

Meanwhile, there’s big expansion news coming from Jasper. Marmot Basin is prepping to open the Knob Quad, a fixed-grip with conveyor loading rising 393 vertical metres and reaching the highest lift-accessible point on the mountain. “The terrain in the Knob area has a long and storied history and is a favourite,” says Jason Paterson, Marmot’s president and CEO. Access will now be easier to Marmot Cirque and Marmot Peak, where, Paterson says, the “runs are expansive and the views absolutely breathtaking.” Carrying 1,200 people per hour and moving at a speed of 2.3 metres per second, load-to-unload will take fewer than eight minutes.

All of this will be talked about at the annual Toronto Ski + Snowboard Show, which runs October 27-29 in Hall 5 of the International Centre. Come visit us at the Ski Canada booth.

In case you haven’t heard, Netflix is now in the ski business—sort of. Co-founder Reed Hastings has bought a $100-million stake in Utah’s Powder Mountain, now claiming to be the largest resort in the U.S. at 3,425 skiable hectares.  “My wife Patty and I love this place,” Hastings told reporters. “We love the vastness of the terrain, and we love the community.” Hastings has promised to make PowMow more accessible “by bolstering infrastructure and amenities, and by maintaining the uncrowded feel Powder Mountain is known for.” New for 2023/24: Don’t Mention It (short form, DMI), newly opened terrain with a 910m drop, plus lots of chutes and open bowls.

Among the biggest news in the U.S. ski industry this month is the impending opening of Hero’s terrain on Colorado’s Aspen Mountain. Named to honour those who helped bring the expansion to fruition, including the late Jim Crown, Hero’s expert terrain—60ha of chutes and glades—also has runs dedicated to the area’s first female instructor, Elli Iselin, and 10th Mountain Division soldier Percy Rideout. 

Colorado’s Steamboat Ski Resort is in its final phase of a $220-million redevelopment project called Full Steam Ahead. It includes adding a second segment to the new Wild Blue Gondola, the longest and fastest 10-person gondola in North America, stretching 5km. Incredibly, the lift will increase Steamboat’s out-of-base capacity to 10,000 people per hour—that’s a lot of skiers. Terrain increases with the redevelopment as well: 265 skiable hectares of expert terrain in Fish Creek Canyon and along Mahogany Ridge.

And in keeping with the “wild” theme that appears to be taking Colorado by storm this season, Winter Park has a new Wild Spur Express. The high-speed Poma six-pack chair climbs up Vasquez Ridge and serves 115ha of terrain. The news here is that the chair also includes a loadable mid-station, making it easier for skiers to do quicker laps on more advanced terrain at the top of Vasquez.
Lori Knowles is co-editor of Ski Canada magazine.

Lori Knowles
Lori Knowles is co-editor of Ski Canada magazine.
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