While eager skiers and riders can’t always expect a snowy start to the season here in the southern San Juans, they can count on this: The knowledge that the Telluride Ski Area isn’t standing still.
And this year, Telluride Ski and Golf can boast of yet another run of on- and off-mountain improvements, upgrades and new projects, all initiated with an eye towards living up to ski area’s reputation as “Unmatched in North America.”
From glading projects aimed at enhancing the on-mountain experience to a vitality-enhancing initiative with a spate of new retail shops in the Mountain Village base area, the Telluride Ski Resort is on the upswing.
The World Cup is also back (Dec. 15-18), providing the backdrop for a wide global audience. And while there aren’t any new lifts or mountain expansions on the 2010-2011 map, the resort is floating both of those ideas as it prepares to create a new Master Development Plan, which it hopes to draw up in draft form before season’s end.
Boosting the Ski Experience, One Glade at a Time
Armed with chainsaws and a skier’s perspective, TSG crews tackled some of the mountain’s heavily treed areas over the summer, essentially expanding skiable terrain within ski area boundaries by opening up previously thick pockets of forest adjacent to popular groomed runs.
“Skiers are really going to notice” the glading work undertaken over the summer for this ski season, promises TSG CEO Dave Riley.
Gold Rush and Prospect Glades are two ski runs appearing for the first time on the 2010-11 ski map, thanks to these glading efforts. Gold Rush is a low-angle tree run in the Polar Queen Express (Lift 5) area, to the skier’s right of Henry’s; glading in that area has also opened up the skier’s left side of Silvertip, to increase that run’s size twofold.
Crews carved out multiple new lines in the newly named Prospect Glades as well, between Terminal Roll and Stella off of Prospect Express (Lift 12.) Ever-popular Plunge Lift (Lift 9) tree run Logpile, as well as the trees to the skier’s left of Joint Point also received a sprucing up over the summer, thanks to the glading crews.
Crews also did significant brush-cutting on front side runs Stumper and Milk Run.
Empty Storefronts No More
The Mountain Village Core, the winter nucleus of the Telluride Ski Resort, has historically suffered from a dearth of commercial “vitality,” that nebulous thing that makes people want to hang around and spend money.
“There’s been empty storefronts in the Mountain Village for too long,” Riley says, admitting that opening a retail business in a town that’s busy for only a few weeks a year isn’t economically viable for most potential businesses. He explains that TSG, deciding they couldn’t wait any longer for retail businesses to “pull the trigger” on opening new shopping establishments in Mountain Village (thus alleviating the “vitality” problem) decided to start opening up businesses itself.
“Shopping is so important to the vacation experience, and we feel it’s also in the Village’s best interest to have shops that are open. We’re the only ones who could get that done,” Riley says. And so, TSG-owned stores have started cropping up in the core; last season, it was the Resort Store and Telluride Naturals, and this season it’s the Gold Hill Gallery (a print gallery) and the Swanky Buckle, a women’s boutique.
TSG retail manager Elaine Guiliani is especially excited about the Swanky Buckle, a store that adds, she says, a fresh and fun element to the budding new shopping milieu in Mountain Village.
“It fills a niche and adds diversity to the shopping experience, which was our goal,” Guiliani says of the Swanky Buckle, a ladies clothing and accessories boutique that offers a combination of up-and-coming designers with established favorites, including Cole Haan, Fidelity Denim and Karen Zambos Couture.
The Swanky Buckle, located off Heritage Plaza, across from Bootdoctors, celebrates its Grand Opening Friday, Nov. 26, 5-8 p.m., with appetizers and a fashion show.
Nighttime Dining Hits New Heights
As the paradigm of Telluride’s new style of on-mountain dining, Alpino Vino has captured the hearts (and stomachs) of its visitors. This winter, the small, intimate restaurant tucked into the flanks of Gold Hill will play host to elegant nighttime dinners.
After the sun sets on this quaint on-mountain wine bar, ski boots will be replaced with dress shoes as the wood-and-stone chalet transforms into a matchless dining locale. Equaling the Italian-themed, five-course menu for wow factor will be the means by which diners will be whisked to this high alpine restaurant: Guests will travel to Alpino Vino via an enclosed Snow-Coach snowcat.
The nighttime dinners at Alpino Vino evolved out of popular demand for more intimate, on-mountain dining options, says TSG’s Riley.
“Alpino Vino has been incredibly popular,” he says, noting that the ski area has received accolades from guests for going in the direction of the smaller, more refined restaurants similar to those found in European ski resorts.
Daytime visitors to Alpino Vino will find more it even more comfortable than before, thanks to new outdoor electric radiant heaters that have replaced the old gas heaters.
World Cup, Part Deux
For the second year, Telluride Ski Resort will host the only U.S. stop of the LG FIS Snowboard World Cup, featuring the world’s preeminent Snowboardcross (SBX) and parallel Giant Slalom (PGS) athletes. The competition will be on Telluride’s Misty Maiden, Dec. 15-18.
After hosting its first-ever World Cup event last December, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) awarded Telluride its “Rookie of the Year” award for being the best new venue for World Cup competition. The early-season event in Telluride will benefit from the new snowmaking system, which has effectively doubled pumping capacity in the Village Express area from the Misty Maiden pumphouse,
TSG Vice President of Resort Operations Elizabeth Howe says Telluride is looking forward to continuing the World Cup tradition beyond this year’s event, joining the likes of Beaver Creek, Aspen, and Deer Valley as the only American resorts to host World Cup-level competition (Beaver Creek, Aspen, and Deer Valley host alpine and freestyle World Cup events.)
“They feel like they have found their home for snowboarding,” Howe says of the World Cup committee. She reports that the Telluride Ski Resort has signed a letter of intent to host the World Cup snowboarding event for the next three years.
Distinction Is in the Details
Some smaller but no less significant new projects slated to come on-line this winter are a slew of on-mountain improvements including renovated restrooms at High Camp (top of Prospect Express) and Giuseppe's (top of Plunge Lift); new radiant heat and eight beers on tap at the outdoor patio at the Hop Garden; and upgraded parts on Lifts 6 and 8 to improve those lifts’ reliability. Telluride’s four terrain parks will offer new features this winter, and the Nastar race course’s new location on Butterfly has been dressed up with new start and finish buildings.
Operationally, the ski resort is working with a new internal wireless network that will serve all restaurants and offices across the mountain
“We’ve undertaken a huge number of projects, most of which you won’t notice, but which make the resort run better,” Riley says.