Barbara Lawlor, Eldora Mountain Resort. When skiers and riders finished their first run of they day, they described the new Alpenglow chairlift as “smooth and fast.”
The chairs moved silently, no more clattering their way to pick up riders. The chairs did not sway as much and they were easier to sit on at the start of the ascent. The new chairlift at Eldora Mountain Resort received a loud welcome as the 2017-2018 season began.
The cheers and warbles reverberated across the parking lot that was filled with skiers and riders who were determined to slide down the eight runs that were open: Hornblower, Klondike, Windmill, International, Jolly Jug, Sunset, Sundance and Ryders. Alpenglow, Caribou and Sundance lifts were running, a record for opening day.
EMR General Director Brent Tregaskis addressed the crowd gathered at the bottom of the lift, giving them a bit of history as well as technical facts about the lift. His speech was greeted with cheers by skiers and riders who were eager to plunk themselves down for their first ride on the $5.5 million dollar addition to the resort.
The opening ribbon was cut and Eldora Mountain Ski Club director Matt Tamasko thumbed open the ceremonial bottle of champagne and fizzed it at former Olympic skier, and local, Barbara Henderson who was about to ride the lift with him. Then he aimed the bubbles at everyone around him.
The first chair group consisted of Hunter Wright, Barbara Henderson, Brent Tregaskis, Matt Tomasko, Eric Vogel and Joe Minok.
It takes approximately four and a half minutes to make it up the hill. When he reached the bottom Joe Minock, head of the youth 16 Eldora Mountain Ski Club program, said it was neat to be on the first chair.
“The cable technology provides a smoother ride, and you can go up and down in the time it used to take to get to the top. The seats are very comfortable, softer than what we used to sit on. The new lift is just so cool, so awesome. But it could be a bummer on powder days, when more people can get up the mountain faster than usual.”
It is important to share the good things that are happening up at EMR, says Tregaskis, calling the resort, “The New Eldora.”
Tregaskis says the Alpenglow lift is the most visible improvement at the resort. The first-ever high-speed detachable lift, the $5.5 million six-person chair, will be celebrated in a party this weekend, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 with live music and drink specials.
The new Eldora Food and Beverage department, run by chef Daniel Asher of Denver’s Root Down and Boulder’s River and Woods restaurants, has concocted a new menu which includes items such as The Ned Nederlander: smoked chicken, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, sliced green apple, walnuts, romaine, iceberg and spring leaf greens with raspberry vinaigrette dressing; The Lifty, bison chili with choice of white cheddar cheese, onions, jalapeños and sour cream with Breadworks blueberry, jalapeño or traditional cornbread.
“Have you seen these bathrooms?” asked a woman leaving the women’s room on Saturday. “Wow!” she said, “They’re beautiful.” The stalls and walls have been finished with wood cut down from the new trails. The benches and tables at the Indian Peaks Restaurant have also been built from home-grown wood.
The Timbers Retail Shop has the whole new line of “Closer to You” logo-ed apparel.
The goal to open was Thanksgiving Day, then Friday or Saturday. Weather was still not 100 percent cooperating, so the snowmaking team became ultra aggressive, making snow round the clock whenever the opportunity was there. The snowmakers had five to six good cold nights before opening “We would not be sliding if the team hadn’t performed like they did.”
The snowmaking team consists of 42 snowmakers, most of them with experience, most of them knowing where to put the snow to the most advantage. And then the groomer goes to work, knowing how to built it up where it is needed.
EMR Marketing Director Sam Bass said, on opening day, “I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. I learned to ski here at Eldora and being able to work at the local hill I love so much is as good as it gets.”
Bass is from Maine where he learned to ski at Sugarloaf Mountain where he raced as a member of the ski team in high school. He came to Colorado to study English at Colorado College and where he skied for fun at A-Basin.
Using his writing education, Bass was the editor of Ski magazine for 12 years. When he heard there was an opening in marketing at Eldora he threw his hat in the ring. Living in Boulder and working in Eldora would be the perfect life. He was hired in late August.
“I was overjoyed to be working with these seasoned professionals,” he said. “I see myself being a cheerleader for the mountain I have loved.”
Next weekend, EMR will share their feelings in a grand opening celebration with live music and mimosas and breakfast burritos as well as Eldora labeled thermal wear shirts to the first 200 visitors on Saturday morning.
The Cosmic Uphill Race will also take place on Friday and Saturday, reverting back to the days when there were no mechanical lifts to take skiers up the hill.
It is all part of a larger mission, says Bass.
“The lift, the food, the logos are all here to serve the community. We care about our guests.”
The next goal is to get Corona open, which is dependent on the temperature. Hopefully, the next snowstorm will be at least a foot.
With an 18-inch base, the current man-made surface can make it through this snow drought.
(Originally published in the November 30, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)