Hitting the slopes

Colorado ski season: Mountain coasters, Olympic fun and more

AP Photo
A man skis on the snowy slopes of Whiteface Mountain, in Lake Placid, N.Y. The mountain, which has hosted Winter Olympic games in the past, has undergone several upgrades since last season.

AP Photo A man skis on the snowy slopes of Whiteface Mountain, in Lake Placid, N.Y. The mountain, which has hosted Winter Olympic games in the past, has undergone several upgrades since last season.

(AP) — Are you ready for a roller coaster at a ski resort?

New attractions in Colorado this season include mountain coasters at four Colorado ski resorts, along with new terrain and new lifts. Colorado is also hosting events themed on February’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Colorado’s Olympics fever includes qualifying competitions, lessons hosted by former Olympians and a send-off for competing athletes.

Here are details on some of the news from Colorado’s ski industry as provided by Colorado Ski Country USA, the not-for-profit trade association representing 23 ski and snowboard resorts.

MOUNTAIN COASTERS

A mountain coaster is a gravity-driven roller coaster elevated anywhere from 4 to 40 feet (1 to 12 meters) off the ground, with dips, waves and 360-degree loops. It’s a way for skiers and non-skiers alike to enjoy thrills and views.

Steamboat opened a coaster earlier this year. Aspen Snowmass, Purgatory Resort and Copper Mountain are expected to open mountain coasters in the coming months.

OLYMPICS

Aspen Snowmass will host Olympic qualifying events Jan. 10-14, for U.S. athletes in U.S. Grand Prix competitions for snowboard team and freestyle ski team. Copper Mountain will host Olympic qualifying events Dec. 6-10 when U.S. athletes compete in the U.S. Grand Prix halfpipe and big air events.

Guests at Crested Butte can ski with Olympian Wendy Fisher, who leads separate clinics for intermediate and advanced skiers.

Steamboat will host a send-off Jan. 27 to honor athletes headed to the 2018 Winter Games along with past Steamboat Olympians. On hand will be Billy Kidd, Steamboat’s director of skiing and a 1964 Olympic silver medalist, and Nelson Carmichael, an Olympic bronze medalist.

Cooper will host two Olympic-themed family-friendly events. The Cooper Olympiad, Feb. 10, and the Lake County Olympics, Feb. 20, are both designed to be fun, laid-back events with games and races for all.

Wolf Creek will host an Olympics-themed fun slalom race Feb. 25 for skiers and boarders.

WHAT’S NEW: TERRAIN, LIFTS AND MORE

Arapahoe Basin is opening 468 new skiable acres with the Beavers and Steep Gullies open to the public. Purgatory Resort has new expert and intermediate trails and is increasing and improving glade skiing acreage. Loveland Ski Area is expanding snowcat skiing.

Eldora Mountain Resort is debuting a new six-person detachable lift. Copper Mountain is replacing the Kokomo Lift with a new detachable quad chairlift and also has a new lodge, Koko’s Hut. Steamboat’s Gondola has undergone a major renovation. Wolf Creek Ski Area has a new covered conveyor Lynx Lift to help access existing lifts and terrain.

Cooper’s new mountaintop yurt lodge will be open all season with food, drinks and panoramic views. Cooper will also host four moonlight mountaintop yurt dinners on first Saturdays, January through April.

Echo Mountain is offering improved access to tree skiing areas with wider trails to accommodate beginner skiers and riders and a new magic carpet in the beginner area.

Granby Ranch is expanding its cross-country skiing trails.

Hesperus Ski Area is installing additional lights to increase night skiing terrain. The ski area will re-open the rope tow and install a new yurt.

Loveland Ski Area is offering snowcat skiing in Dry Gulch for the first time.

ANNIVERSARIES

AND SPECIALIZED PROGRAMS

Aspen Snowmass is expecting thousands of visitors Dec. 15 as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Loveland Ski Area will celebrate its 80th year of operations and Cooper will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a New Year’s Eve party and torchlight parade. Telluride turns 45 this winter.

Ski resorts are hosting a number of clinics designed especially for women . Crested Butte hosts Women’s Tips on Tuesdays, a half-day lesson led by female pros that ends with a glass of wine. Arapahoe Basin hosts the Legendary Ladies clinic, a weekly women’s lesson open to both skiers and snowboarders. Telluride’s Women’s Ski & Wellness Week features yoga, meditation, wellness speakers and apres ski activities. Aspen Snowmass hosts a four-day Women’s Edge program.

At Crested Butte, a new program, CB North Face Guides, will help expert skiers and riders navigate extreme terrain.

TAKE THE TRAIN

The Amtrak Winter Park Express train service from Denver’s Union Station to the Winter Park Resort was reintroduced last winter and returns in 2018 with trains running Jan. 5-March 25, Saturdays and Sundays, plus three first Fridays: Jan. 5, Feb. 2 and March 2.