Ski season is here for most of us in North America, but that doesn’t mean that your favorite resorts are just waking up from their reverse hibernation.
Most sports make their biggest moves in the offseason, and skiing and snowboarding are no exception. From resort acquisitions, to new lift construction, to brand new ski programs, the winter sports industry likes to shake things up when most of us are working on our base tans. So, what exactly has changed for the upcoming 2017-2018 season, you ask?
We went region to region to see what’s new this ski season, getting you in the know before the snow starts to pile up.
Steep skiers rejoice! Arapahoe Basin is set to open 468 new acres of skiing into The Beavers and The Steep Gullies for 2017-2018. While The Beavers will offer more intermediate terrain and groomers, The Steep Gullies feature an array of steep chutes that will require a hike back to the bottom of the Pallavicini Lift.
With Olympics around the corner, Breckenridge gets in on the competitive action this season by turning the Dew Tour into an Olympic qualifier for freestyle skiing and snowboarding slopestyle and halfpipe from Dec. 14-17. The popular Colorado resort will continue to host its marquee event as planned, but will double down by providing athletes a quality qualification venue ahead of this year’s Winter Games in South Korea.
The Winter Park Express ski train from Denver was such a success last year, that Amtrak decided to expand the Denver to Winter Park operation this year, offering 27 round trips this ski season. A welcome break from I-70 traffic, the Winter Park Express is offering tickets for as low as $29.
Vail turned heads when it dropped a record $1 billion to acquire Whistler Blackcomb last year, but British Columbia makes its official Epic Pass debut this year, offering faithful skiers a season pass that includes Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, and Kirkwood among a handful of others.
Canada’s Panorama spices up its seasonal offerings by adding 128 acres of ungroomed terrain in Taynton Bowl. This is part of a multi-year terrain expansion for a resort that already ranks in the top three in vertical feet of all resorts in Canada (Revelstoke and Whistler Blackcomb occupy the top two spots).
Sugarloaf became the largest ski resort east of the Mississippi when it opened its Burnt Mountain terrain a few years ago, but the Maine resort will up the ante this year by adding snowcat-assisted skiing from the top of Burnt Mountain. Passengers can book a single lap trip between $20-30 to climb to the top of the some of the East Coast’s best tree skiing (book in advance as daily space is limited). Hiking will still be permitted in the area.
Stowe officially joins the Epic Pass this year after being acquired by Vail Resorts last year. While the news has upset many Vermont locals, the Epic Pass covers a season of skiing a Stowe and 14 other Vail Resorts for $899, while a season pass at Stowe cost more than $1,800 last year.
Along with Snowbasin in Utah, Vermont’s Sugarbush links up with the Mountain Collective Pass this year, providing its skiers with a season pass and two additional ski days at legendary locales like Mammoth, Sun Valley, Revelstoke, and Jackson Hole, among others.
That Lake Tahoe dream trip just got a whole lot more feasible thanks to new non-stop flights to Reno International Airport from Chicago via United Airlines and Denver via Frontier Airlines. From Reno, North Lake Tahoe is only 45 minutes away.
Mammoth Mountain continues to establish itself as a freestyle ski and snowboard capital, investing in a series of giant inflatable airbags for specified jump training. Originally designated for the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding, the bags will be open to the public, including a 200-foot long bag, angled to mimic landing on the slopes.
Crystal Mountain, the biggest ski area in Washington, brings back night skiing on its Gold Hill and Quiksilver chairs for 2017-2018 after a multi-year absence. Lifts will spin from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season.
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