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Resort Report: Killington, Breck’s 50th, Avy School & Squaw

Killington is moving ahead on plans to replace the Superstar Pub after it received substantial damage from Hurricane Irene. Breckenridge is readying for its 50th anniversary. And final on-mountain improvements are shaping up as the ski season approaches.

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Vermont’s Killington Resort will replace K-1 Lodge’s Superstar Pub with a new deck and Meissl Umbrella Bar, named the “Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar.” The pub was knocked from its foundation by the flooded Roaring Brook during Hurricane Irene, and partially collapsed. The adjoining K-1 Lodge was built on a separate foundation and there was minimal damage to the K-1 Café, Mahogany Ridge Pub, Mountain Bike Shop, Rental Shop and bathrooms. Killington Resort will start to build the deck in place of the Superstar Pub in the beginning of October. The new structure will include two heated Umbrella Bars with seating for 100 people plus, 200 additional seats on the deck.

“Our crews have successfully dismantled and removed the Superstar Pub and restored Roaring Brook to its original stream bed,” said Chris Nyberg, president and general manager for Killington Resort. “We will begin to build the deck beside Roaring Brook in the next couple of weeks and we anticipate opening the Roaring Brook Umbrella Bar by the end of November.” 

Breckenridge readies for 50th anniversary season

The Breckenridge Ski Resort has announced details for the ski resort’s 50th anniversary season. Opening Day is set for Nov. 11, 2011, and Breck’s actual 50th birthday will fall on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. This date will fall in the midst of one of the resort’s signature annual events, the Winter Dew Tour, which is set to take place that same weekend with competitions on the mountain and celebrations throughout town.

The idea of building a ski resort in Breckenridge began during the late 1950s, when Bill Rounds of the Porter and Rounds Lumber Company became interested in bringing skiing to the valley. The Peak 8 Ski Area (as it was first known) opened on December 16, 1961 with one Heron double chair and a midway unloading station in addition to one short learners T-bar. 

Here are a few noteworthy statistics from Breck’s first 50 years:

* Breck has received approximately 17,500 inches of snow (1,416 feet) since the resort opened in 1961.

* Breck has hosted approximately 39 million skiers and snowboarders since 1961 (the first season featured around 17,000 total skier visits, as compared to 1.63 million in 2010/11)

* Breck was the first ski resort in North America to install a high speed quad chairlift, in 1981. 

Mammoth scores direct flights from San Diego

Beginning this winter, San Diego and Orange County residents will have new non-stop service to Mammoth Yosemite Airport. United is also expanding service from San Francisco International Airport to Mammoth Lakes with a second flight from Friday to Monday. The new flights will depart daily throughout the winter from San Diego and four days per week from Orange County (Friday – Monday). In addition, air service to and from San Francisco now includes additional Friday – Monday flight service to complement the daily flight service already in existence.

Four new members inducted into Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame

Innovative freestyle skier Bob Theobald, Utah County ski pioneer Raymond Stewart and Alta Mayor William Levitt and Wyoming’s Kit DesLauriers, the first woman to ski from the summit of Mt. Everest were inducted into the Intermountain Ski Hall of Fame in Park City on Sept. 22, 2011. There are now 50 honorees in the Intermountain Hall of Fame.

National Avalanche School slated for Snowbird

The country’s oldest, most acclaimed avalanche training program for snow safety professionals, the National Avalanche School, will be held Oct. 23-27 at Utah’s Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, with many of the industry’s leading snow safety experts. “These are the guys (and gals) that literally wrote the book on avalanche safety,” said Onno Wieringa, National Avalanche Foundation president and Alta ski area president and GM. The school’s comprehensive professional avalanche training follows the American Avalanche Association guidelines and is the only program of its type focused on ski area management and snow safety programs. Fourteen nationally recognized snow science experts and avalanche specialists will lecture throughout the week, covering more than 17 snow safety topics.

Improvements wrapping up as season approaches

There are more improvements being reported at ski areas across the country as the season gets ready to rock. At Boyne Highlands Resort and Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan’s two largest ski areas, new improvements including new groomers and snow guns, an extensive hotel renovation and terrain park enhancements. Boyne Mountain is rolling out a new in-room recycling program at its lodging facilities.

Freestyle skiers are also getting good news at Grand Targhee, where are several years of being absent the resort will be bringing back the terrain park. The park will have four to six rails and a jump section built with the help of Mother Nature and our new snow cats. The park will have two lines of features, one line for beginners and one line for more advanced skiers and riders.

In other news…

Squaw Valley announced Michael DeGroff will serve as the resort’s new vice president of resort services. DeGroff joins the team from Steamboat Ski Resort, where he served as the vice president of resort services. Additionally, Squaw Valley announced the appointment of Gretchen Kielas to the position of director of retail operations. And Todd Kelly is the resort’s newly appointed ski and snowboard team program director…Whitefish Mountain Resort was using a helicopter to bring in towers for the new Bad Rock Chair Lift in the second to last week of September, but have said the lift will be ready by ski season…And on the last weekend of September, Snowbird will be hosting a ski and snowboard gear swap to help raise funds for Snowbird Sports Education Foundation.

 –Peter Kray

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