Colorado ski areas were thrifty this summer |

Colorado ski areas were thrifty this summer

ASPEN – Colorado ski resorts tightened their belts and avoided big capital expenditures this summer after a tough 2011-12 winter.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s completion of the Elk Camp Restaurant at Snowmass ski area was one of the highlights of Colorado Ski Country USA’s annual list of ski-area summer projects. None of the trade group’s 22 members built a new chairlift this summer.

Skico has worked on the $13 million improvement of Elk Camp over the past two years. It will debut early this ski season. Skico also planned to add 230 acres of sidecountry terrain on Burnt Mountain for next season, but a legal challenge by an environmental group has placed that addition in limbo.

In lieu of any flashy chairlifts or terrain additions to highlight, Colorado Ski Country strained to find projects to feature in its annual round-up of capital improvements. The entries included:

• Monarch ski area’s addition of 16,000 square feet to its base lodge. The $2.3 million investment will improve facilities and services at the focal point of the ski area.

• Copper Mountain added the Alpine Rush Zip Line this summer and will continue to operate it during the ski season. Two parallel zip lines whisk riders side by side, 30 feet above the West Lake ice-skating rink. Riders reach speeds of 30 mph.

• Winter Park added a new tube park that will feature four lanes and conveyor-lift access.

•Arapahoe Basin is adding the $80,000 conveyor lift to the Pika Place Learning Arena.

• Loveland renovated the Ptarmigan Roost Cabin at the top of Chair 2 and the Rockhouse at the top of Chair 1. It also reconfigured Chair 2 to add an offloading station.

• Howelsen Hill is building the $1.75 million Hill Size 45 ski jump. Howelsen, owned by the city of Steamboat Springs, aims to build a facility that can be used by youth competitors in summer as well as winter. The plastic surface will be sprayed with water, allowing competitors to slide on the surface during warm weather.

Skier visits for members of Colorado Ski Country were down 783,548, or about 11 percent, last winter from 2010-11. Below-average snowfall was identified as the culprit.

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