Race training begins at Vail Mountain’s Golden Peak site, late opening considered ‘disappointing’

The Golden Peak competition site is seen from Vail Mountain on Sunday. The area is now open for race training, indicated by the fence bordering the track.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

Golden Peak has become one of several Colorado venues making race training available to teams across the country this weekend.

It’s been a good season for early season training; Copper Mountain has been open since Oct. 22, Loveland has been hosting teams for weeks, the Steamboat Sports Club has been offering race training at its Howleson Hill site for nearly two weeks, and the Stapleton Training Center in Aspen is at available to World Cup athletes for over two weeks. only a week.

Athletes from the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail headed to Copper and Loveland for training, but parents were told on Wednesday that a run on the top of Golden Peak should be open “this week”.

“Our opening product on Golden Peak will be the Fall Line Trail, with a mandatory upload and download on Chair 6, the Riva Bahn Express,” Bryan Rooney, COO of the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, told parents in a letter published Wednesday.

Golden Peak opened race training on Sunday, Vail Resorts’ John Plack said.

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“There are a number of factors at play when making snow for the Golden Peak course,” Plack said. “Temperatures below 9,000′ were still difficult at the start of the season and we focused on opening two village gates on November 11. This process began in October and accelerated when temperatures became more favorable in November.”

As Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes waited for practice to open at Golden Peak this week, they were able to take advantage of freeskiing opportunities on Vail Mountain, Plack said.

“Once our early season offering is set, we provide water for this course to supplement Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s water availability and agreements,” Plack said.

Gunning for October

In the meantime, Golden Peak can draw water from another source thanks to an agreement with Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, which has helped facilitate early openings in recent years.

During the month of October, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District makes potable water available to the Golden Peak site if flows at Gore Creek exceed 19 cubic feet per second (CFS) as measured by the “Gore Creek above Red Sandstone Creek” USGS gauge, based on average daily flow.

In some years it has proven to be very useful.

In 2015, Golden Peak opened on November 12more than a week before Vail Mountain opens, and also before Copper Mountain Speed ​​Center opens to national teams.

That year, the US Ski Team began training on Golden Peak on November 14 and was soon joined by national ski teams from Austria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway and Poland. , Sweden and Switzerland. These teams stayed at Manor Vail, Tivoli Lodge, Christiana, Racquet Club and Destination Resorts properties, booking from mid-November through early December.

In 2018, Golden Peak opened on November 13, just a day earlier than Vail Mountain, but early enough compared to other training areas to bring a lot of economic vitality to the city. National teams from Austria, Italy, France and Sweden stayed at the Manor Vail Lodge, as well as club teams from the USA Gilboa team from Minnesota brought 75 skiers and 15 coaches and staff for s train in Vail, spending about $120,000.

In 2019, a new ski lift (T-Bar) opened on Golden Peak, providing access to higher terrain, an improvement by Vail Mountain COO Doug Lovell that will help the race arena ” further establish itself as a premier global competition venue, particularly for early and late season events.

The opening of the Upper Ground on Golden Peak was meant to make it an even earlier training option, with a 2019 Press release at the opening stating that Ski & Snowboard Club Vail “expects the site to be operational several critical weeks sooner”.

In 2020, that earlier opening goal seemed to be heading in the right direction, with the new, expanded ground opening on November 3. This was later than the October opening hoped for by the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, which had touted October openings as possible. with the higher elevation expansion in play, as November 1 has always been a target for the lower slopes of Golden Peak.

It appears the club were also optimistic about the prospect of an October opening this season, announcing start-of-season training could start “from October 2022”.

But there were not many opportunities to access water at the end of October, as the necessary water flows of more than 19 CFS only occurred on three days in the second half of October: 23 October, October 26 and October 27.

And Vail Mountain, with its own snowmaking improvements at higher elevations, is prioritizing its public opening, which has happened earlier and earlier in recent years — opening Nov. 12 in 2021 and Nov. 11 this year. year.

In November, snowmaking may have intensified on Golden Peak, as flows only need to be 9 CFS for Golden Peak to access district water, and each day averaged over 9 CFS . Vail Mountain also gave Golden Peak water from its November supply.

A view of Golden Peak on its 2021 opening day, Saturday November 20.
Courtesy picture

After this promising opening of November 3, 2020, the North America Cup races were scheduled for mid-November at Golden Peak in 2021, but were forced to move to Copper Mountain because the place only opened on November 20.

This year, international teams visit Copperwhich hosted athletes from Norway, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Germany and Canada.

Copper Mountain held a downhill practice on Wednesday morning, where athletes from Norway, Austria, Italy and the United States practiced on the US Ski Team Speed ​​Center course.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Missed economic benefits

In addition to the cosmopolitan atmosphere, the early season training creates an economic impact appreciated by many, which is one of the benefits considered by the Water District in making water available at Golden Peak in start of the season.

Former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Director Aldo Radamus extolling the benefits of early season training at Golden Peak, cited “An influx of millions of dollars in economic activity from thousands of athletes, coaches, technicians and family members traveling here from around the world to train during a notoriously quiet season,” ​​to benefit early season training at Golden Peak.

A worker from Manor Vail Lodge, during an early season opener from years pastsaid the atmosphere there had made hotel workers “excited and excited about the ski season”, adding that “coaches frequent our restaurant and that brings in some great early season business for the ski season”. ‘hotel”.

Former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail communications manager Geoff Mintz said he remembers creating the webpage which touted the possibility of an October opening for the Golden Peak expansion project.

“It looks like it would have been one of the years that it could have opened in October, with how quickly some of these other sites were able to start up,” Mintz said. “It’s disappointing, that’s for sure. You hate to see Vail kids having to drive to Loveland.

Another economic benefit to consider in the expansion of Golden Peak was the travel time savings for the residents of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. said Kirk Dwyer, former director of Ski & Snowboard Club Vailwho replaced Radamus after leaving the club in 2016.

“The expanded field will provide a better, safer and more productive training arena for our athletes, saving families on travel costs while providing an economic benefit to the Vail community,” said Dwyer. .

Mintz said that doesn’t seem to be happening this season.

“I remember writing this language for SSCV about the opening in October, and we always said it was weather dependent, because at the time we thought the weather was the only thing that could delay the opening of the site,” Mintz said. . “But this year has been as good as it gets for the start of the season weather.”

But now that the Golden Peak training area is open, Vail is expected to receive a share of the economic activity associated with providing teams with a competitive ski center at the start of the season.

Team Gilboa’s Joe Paul said he had scheduled his team of 100 riders to use the Golden Peak venue when it opened on Sunday.

“It’s our Thanksgiving tradition,” he said.

Plack said you never know what you’re going to get from looking at stream flows and weather temperatures.

“Every season is a little different with every mountain that strives to provide early season training for athletes, and Vail Mountain is no exception,” he said Sunday. “We are delighted to have provided an excellent start to the season offer for our guests, and we are delighted to be able to practice today on the T-Bar. We are committed to opening all grounds, both for the public and for our athletes, as quickly as possible depending on the conditions we have to work with.


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