SHARP TURNS: 2020 Colorado ski season bringing flurry of new across the state

935
In this Oct. 29, 2015 file photo, snowboarders tear down a run during opening day at Loveland Ski Area in Georgetown, Colo. Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are regularly the first resorts to open for the full ski season in the United States. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

 

With the first dustings of snow already gracing some Colorado ski resorts, it’s time to dust off of the skis and boards languishing in the garage. Rejoice, Colorado. Ski season is just around the corner. There’s a host of new waiting for novice and seasoned skiers alike. Many resorts are reporting new lifts, new runs and one big defection from the Epic Pass conglomerate. Here’s a list of big resort updates to get you in the mood for powder days, après ski beers — and brutal Interstate 70 traffic.

Copper Mountain

Copper’s made big moves this summer. Some of the resort’s best expert terrain — 12,400-foot Tucker Mountain, presiding over Copper’s back bowls — was only accessible by a snowcat or a very long hike. No longer. This summer, Copper installed a three-person chair dubbed Three Bears to shuttle the masses right up the peak. If you’ve already been enjoying Tucker’s reliably steep powder stashes without the crowds, this may be your cue to shed a tear. If the hike has been too daunting, life will be good. 

Arapahoe Basin 

With its slow chairs, Sixth Alley, East Wall and famous “beach” known for its seasoned drinkers, Arapahoe Basin has a reputation for being freewheeling. Indeed: The resort abandoned its longtime allegiance to Vail’s Epic Pass conglomerate this summer and jumped to the Ikon Pass. For the 2019-2020 season, you can ski A-Basin up to five days when you buy an Ikon Base Pass, or seven days if you buy the full-price Ikon Pass. The resort, long dubbed “The Legend,” also added two new expert-level runs to its recent Beavers Expansion area. Rock on. 

Winter Park 

Mary Jane skiers are masochists. All winter long, they love skiing endless fields of moguls and tight-as-can be trees runs. To bring the pain, Winter Park upgraded its Sunnyside lift over the summer. For those who’ve lost one too many brain cells to Mary Jane: Sunnyside is a central lift in the territory and boards near Panoramic Express. The old, ’90s-era lift will now be a a high-speed, six-person lift, halving the lift time from eight to four minutes and slinging an extra 800 people up the hill every hour. Winter Park is no exception to the hordes of snow-hungry mongrels crowding I-70 and lift lines, buy hey, the Sentinel welcomes any queue-reduction measures in the mountains.                                                      

Crested Butte 

Crested Butte — affectionately dubbed “Crusty Butt” — is known for its steep terrain and deep powder. It’s more than a four hour long haul from Aurora without snowy roads and traffic, but Epic Local pass holders have unlimited access to the western Colorado resort. To tempt Front Range city slickers this year, Crested Butte is also getting a lift makeover: The Teocalli Lift is back to haul skiers (and their misguided counterparts, snowboarders) to some blue and green trails near the bottom of the resort. The formerly two-person lift is now a high-speed quad. If the easy terrain doesn’t get your heart racing, taking the lift up to the top of the resort should. It’s the real deal up there, folks. Get crusty. 

Loveland

This generations-old ski-park, first off on the I-70 trek, has long been favored by the born and bred here.  In the industry cold war between Vail’s Epic Pass system and the Ikon Pass, Loveland is Tito — non-aligned. Season passes here get you free admission to other Colorado legends, Cooper, Monarch and Purgatory, and a handful of other-state hot spots. Legend has it that serious expert terrain and beginner boulevards co-exist unsullied by Front Range ski slobs. Either way, the joint built its first high-speed chairlift last year. It boasts free cat rides to astounding terrain on the Continental Divide. To get there, Denverites can now hop on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Snowstang bus service from two locations for weekend service at just $25. 

Eldora Mountain 

Still close. Still a lot of everything. Eldora is cementing its growing reputation as being to THE terrain park in Colorado. They’re bringing in the big guns this year to land that claim with a new Zaugg terrain-shaping machine. Park features will be predictable and wild, they promise. For those who prefer to keep their skis in the snow and not in the air, the staples are as good as ever.

Breckenridge

This centrally-located resort is known its gondolas and top-notch bars at several huge base areas. Spoiler alert: There’s been a slew of upgrades at the Peak 8 base area including an ice skating rink, cafe, a new transit stop and several new services headquarters. The renovations may not directly impact your time on the slopes, but they sure as hell could afterward.