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Resort Report: Naked skiing plus other top resort stories from the week

SNEWS brings you the top five ski resort stories of the week, from Eldora's Master Plan approval in Colorado to naked skiing in California to one of the surest signs of spring, the announcement of a new chairlift in Vermont.

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>> Eldora’s Master Plan approved

Eldora Mountain Resort’s 2011 Master Plan has been formally accepted by the U.S. Forest Service. Along with the approval of Mt. Bachelor’s Master Plan in February of 2011, the USFS has now given its blessing to two significant ski area development proposals in a little less than a month. The actions are raising hopes around the mountain resort industry that other long-term strategies might also be headed for a greenlight.

“The Master Plan approval process is moving very slowly for us right now, and we’ve got a bunch of stuff we’re trying to do,” said one Colorado ski area executive. “So what has happened with Eldora is certainly something that we are watching with interest.”

Eldora’s new Master Plan combines a number of lift upgrades, including replacing the Tenderfoot I and II with carpet lifts, replacing the Challenge and Cannonball lifts with a high-speed lift, as well as replacing the fixed-grip Corona chair with a high-speed detachable lift.

Other upgrades include a new lift and new trails to help lessen the impact from wind closures, and significant terrain improvements including 43 acres of new intermediate terrain, 35 acres of new advanced terrain, and 24 acres of new glades. A renovation of the Indian Peaks Lodge and construction of a new guest services facility in the Indian Peaks area have also been proposed.

>> Mount Snow makes big statement with new lift

With at least another month to go in what many in the mountain resort industry are hoping will be a record year for skier visits, Mount Snow is already looking ahead. Officials at the Vermont area announced Saturday, March 5th, 2011, that they have accepted a bid to replace the Summit Local triple chair lift with a new Leitner Poma high-speed detachable six-passenger bubble chairlift. The six pack chairlift will be the first of its kind on the East coast.

“We are continuously making upgrades to our infrastructure to ensure a quality experience for our guests. We feel that installing this state-of-the-art chairlift in order to increase our high speed capacity out of the main base area is in line with this commitment,” said Jesse Boyd, VP of Operations for Peak Resorts. The six-pack will have a ride time of just seven minutes, reducing the ride time of the current lift by nearly half.

>> Search for Crystal Mountain skier called off

Nearly one week after he went missing, Crystal Mountain ski patrol has called off the search for local skier Paul Melby, 40, who disappeared while skiing on the mountain on March 1st, 2011. Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol Director Paul Baugher told SNEWS that he believes Melby fell headfirst into a tree well and is trapped. “That’s just what I am assuming right now,” Baugher said. “But if it’s true, then he would be the sixth person killed in a tree well this season.”

More than 50 friends of the skier turned out to aid in the search, which was officially called off on March 6th. With about five feet of new snow falling since Melby went missing, the search has been suspended until the spring.

>> LA Times reports CA snow advertises itself

Speaking of that potentially record season, a report in the March 5th, 2011 edition of the Los Angeles Times says that deep snow across California’s mountains — including more than 38 feet of snow in Lake Tahoe since October — has the state looking forward to a strong, and potentially record-breaking closeout.

“There are too many other options for Southern Californians when it’s clear and sunny down the hill,” Bob Roberts, executive director of the California Ski Industry Association told the paper. “When it gets cloudy and rains everyone looks at the mountain and sees that it’s all white. It’s the best advertising we can get.” Roberts added that although the state has been enjoying a bumper season, it has yet to top last season’s record, when about 8 million people hit California’s slopes. Read the entire article here.

>> Today is the International Day of GNAR

Time to take off your ski clothes, call your mom on your cellphone and go rip the biggest, baddest line on your local mountain, all in celebration of the first annual International Day of GNAR. It was on this day one year ago — March 9, 2010 — that the Unofficial Networks film crew was kicked off Squaw Mountain for playing the game of GNAR, which awards bonus points for everything from skiing naked and dialing your mom while you’re ripping, to hitting the terrain park on mini skis while dressed in lingerie and proclaiming to other skiers that, “I’m the best skier on this mountain.”

Inspired by the late great Shane McConkey, as well as the book “Squallywood” by Squaw local Robb Gaffney, the film documenting the first official GNAR contest has become an internet sensation, and skiers from California to Vermont have been playing the game of GNAR this season. Check out the trailer, the entire film, and more on the International Day of GNAR here.

-Peter Kray

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