#1: Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows Base to Base Gondola Project Set to Get Underway This Summer:
Well, last week’s ski news felt like something of a transition week as we tied up a few loose ends from the winter before sharing some headlines that are more typical of the off-season. This week, we’re going full off-season mode as our list of updates and headlines consists mostly of resort news. Kicking off that theme is a headline from Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows regarding their long awaited, highly anticipated Base to Base gondola. This story has been years, if not decades, in the making, and one that we’ve covered a handful of times over the years. In case you’ve missed those highlights, here’s a quick recap: Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows is set to build a gondola connecting the bases of the two resorts. When it’s completed, it’s expected to take 1,400 passengers per hour between the two bases on a ride that will last about 16 minutes. This week, we found out that preparations for the project are officially underway, with significant work expected to begin this summer. In a blog post made by Squaw Alpine on April 12th, a quick list of frequently asked questions is provided, which puts a base level of information in place. Unfortunately the answers to these questions are generally vague, such as “construction timelines and opening date are dependent on weather, conditions, and logistics,” but the lack of actual information is easily overshadowed in this case by the simple announcement that the project is in fact set to move forward starting this summer. To learn more details, check out this writeup from the Sierra Sun, or this blog post on the Squaw Alpine website.
#2: New Mega Resort Proposed for British Columbia:
In other exciting resort related news, a proposal for a new all-season mega resort in Southern British Columbia currently being called, “Bridal Veil Mountain Resort” was announced this week. Before we get into the exciting details of this potential new resort, we’d first like to address the elephant in the room: yes, we also think “Bridal Veil” is a strange name for a ski area, but hey, we just sell skis, not develop massive resorts, so what do we know. Anyhow, what we can tell you is that from the introductory materials we’ve seen from this proposed resort, there’s a lot to like. First, let’s talk location. Nestled in a mountain range just southeast of Chilliwack, BC, Bridal Veil resort would be just over the U.S. / Canada border, and only about an hour and a half from Bellingham, WA. The second part of this proposed ski area that caught our attention is very simply the layout of the terrain. While most ski areas are pretty straight forward, with a handful of lifts taking you up the face of one or more similarly facing summits, Bridal Veil Resort would be set in a bowl, with one lift taking you into the ski area with 360 views of accessible peaks. Looking at the map, it’s easy to see how this ski resort could offer some incredibly unique terrain. And then, there are the expected details. When all is said and done, if the master plan comes to fruition, Bridal Veil could offer up to 11,500 acres of terrain, with runs averaging 2,300 feet of vertical. In other words, Bridal Veil could match other large B.C. ski areas such as Whistler, Fernie, and Revelstoke, while also positioning itself exceptionally close to the U.S. border. Of course there’s a number of hurdles requiring clearance before ground can even start to be broken on this resort, but the potential laid out in the proposal is impressive. To learn more about this exciting new project, check out the Bridal Veil Mountain Resort website, or this article from GlobalNews.ca.
#3: Alta Looks to Alter Terrain, Resort Employees and Community Push Back:
Next up this week is yet another ski resort centric highlight, although this particular story is unlike any we’ve seen before. As you know, whenever a ski area is looking to expand its terrain or develop new real estate on its property, there’s typically a long approval process that results in significant opposition from a variety of conservationists. That’s the typical story. This week, we learned of an effort spearheaded by Alta employees who are opposing the resort’s plans to modify the terrain between Nina’s Curve and Schuss Gully. While these two trails start separately, they merge just below the batch of trees you see in the accompanying image. At the moment, Alta is looking to remove these trees and regrade the land, creating a wider, more gradual entrance into the trail. While there’s a chance Alta locals would’ve begrudgingly accepted the removal of the trees, the desire to regrade the land triggered something of a resistance movement as over 1,350 skiers (at the time of this writing) have signed a change.org petition urging Alta to reconsider. In their argument, these skiers state that not only would the modification of this area lure beginner or intermediate skiers into a deceptively difficult trail, but also that the resort is actively, “removing fun and playful terrain from the amazing group of local skiers.” While it’s yet to be seen if this petition will have any kind of effect on Alta’s course of action, we find it notable because it’s the only example we can think of in which a mountain wanted to modify its in-bounds terrain, and local skiers pushed back. To read the official petition, and to potentially add your name, head over to change.org.
#4: Audi Nines Recap: After a Weird Year, This Event is Just What Ski Patrol Ordered:
Finally, we round this week’s news out on something of a high note. Last week, we gave you the heads up about this year’s Audi Nines event, which had just gotten underway in Crans Montana. This week, we’re scrapping together what coverage we can from the event as, once again, the media that has been coming out of it has been incredibly entertaining. In case you missed last week’s update, let’s do a lightening fast recap: the Audi Nines event is an annual event in which all the biggest names in skiing and snowboarding convene on a “mega feature” for a few days of antics. Now, we say mega “feature” and not “park” because typically the Audi Nines event is centered around one or two setups which each offer a plethora of options. It’s a bit hard to put into words to be honest, so if you’re feeling confused, go ahead and click play on the video to the right to see the setup yourself. Anyways, back to the task at hand: the recap. Safe to say that despite the odds, or perhaps because of them, this year’s event was one of the best yet. In the words of Nico Porteus in an article shared by Newschoolers.com, the event was, “a breath of fresh air.” In addition to putting together an insane setup, with an Audi sphere that’s sure to be the most memorable feature of the session, the event also stood out in terms of how it brought together both rising talent as well as seasoned veterans. To wrap your head around that, consider that little known names such as Matej Svencar, Jennie-Lee Burmansson and Kim Gubser found themselves sessioning features alongside guys like Henrik Harlaut and Candide Thovex. That range in names simply isn’t something that’s seen at any other event. And while the Audi Nines competition is never about awarding medals, there are still “Ruler of the Week” awards given out to the top male and female skiers. For the men’s division, that title went to Matej Svencar, while the women’s title went to Sarah Hoefflin. To see more coverage of the event, check out the recap on Newschoolers.com, or visit the Audi Nines website.