Aspen ski jump venue ‘back to square one’
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – Plans for a nordic ski-jumping venue on lower Tiehack at Buttermilk are off the table, though the features are outlined in a master-plan amendment for the ski area that Aspen Skiing Co. submitted to Pitkin County just last week.
The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club had hoped to build the first of the jumps this summer, according to Craig Ward, head jumping and nordic combined coach for the club. But, Ward said, he learned of Skico’s change of heart during a site visit to Tiehack with company officials last week.
“All of a sudden, the company said no,” Ward said. “We’re kind of starting over from square one.”
The installation of the new Tiehack chairlift, which debuted this winter, drives the change of plans, according to Rich Burkley, Skico vice president of mountain operations.
“We have taken that current site off the map and offered some alternatives,” he said.
The new lift is actually in the way of the jumps as they were envisioned on the lower slopes of the Racer’s Edge and Javelin trails, Burkley said. The speedier lift has also altered skiing patterns on Tiehack, boosting use of that side of the mountain and Javelin in particular. In fact, skier numbers at Buttermilk overall are up this season, he added.
Initially, Burkley explained, AVSC planned to participate financially in the installation of the new lift, which was to be built with the jumping venue in mind, but when the club withdrew from that part of the project, the lift design was altered.
Skico’s master-plan application outlines permanent structures for jumps of 65 meters, 38 meters and 15 meters, plus two smaller, seasonal jumps – a proposal already approved by the U.S. Forest Service – but Burkley said the plan simply establishes placeholders for options the company was contemplating at a point in time.
Skico has proposed alternate sites for a jumping facility to the ski club, Burkley added.
Ward said Magic Carpet, the farthest run to skier’s left on Tiehack, was suggested, but the club doesn’t consider that option acceptable. The Racer’s Edge and Javelin area, to the far skier’s right at Tiehack, is a much more visible venue for spectating, he noted.
The club had hoped to have jumps of 20 and 40 meters built at Tiehack this year, not with structures but through earth moving, to be augmented with snow, at a cost of about $200,000, Ward said.
Currently, club skiers use a jump made entirely of snow at the base of Tiehack and a smaller jump near AVSC headquarters on the Aspen schools campus. The club building has lift access to the nearby Aspen Highlands ski area.
Ward said the club isn’t giving up on its quest for a jumping facility, and is eyeing a different spot that he wasn’t prepared to discuss just yet.
The Skico, too, wants to accommodate nordic ski jumping somewhere, Burkley said.
“A nordic venue is a fairly engineered area,” he said. “We’ve outlined some sites that might work.
“I’m confident we’ll find a place that works for both organizations.”
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