Winter Park Resort opens for the season, Nov. 13 |

Winter Park Resort opens for the season, Nov. 13

Erik Becker, left, and Euel Chaote put the finishing touches on a terrain park feature in Sorensen Park at Winter Park Resort on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The resort opens for its 74th season today.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

With a normal or possibly above normal snow year predicted for the upcoming winter months, Winter Park Resort will be opening the new season with a marketing plan to highlight the seven different territories that make up the resort and will be launching the “Cirque Sled,” giving skiers easier access to the Cirque.

Winter Park Resort opens on Wednesday, Nov. 13, with three chairlifts running, the Arrow, Gemini and Endeavour and three beginner trails including Sorensen Park, Parkway and Porcupine, totaling 25 skiable acres for their first day of the season. Skiers and boarders will be riding on top of 18 inches of manmade snow.

The re-branding effort is designed to push Winter Park’s standing as the fourth largest ski resort in Colorado, with 3,081 skiable acres.

The resort’s re-branding effort will separate each portion of the resort and will assign a badge to each territory with its own eye-catching artwork and name. The resort plans to have some kind of “bet” or incentive for people who experience each of the seven territories, something they think will get locals out of their favorite spot and out exploring different areas of the resort. Each territory will have badges and other apparel available for people to boast their favorite spot to ski or board.

The seven territories are: Winter Park, Mary Jane, Vasquez Ridge, Parsenn Bowl, Terrain Park, Eagle Wind, and The Cirque.

The re-branding spawns from months of extensive research dating back to June, during which the resort determined a brand to convey Winter Park Resort’s stature as one of the best big mountain experiences in not only Colorado, but also the United States. The resort is seeking to obliterate the myth the resort consists of two extremes: the family friendly Winter Park and the expert-only Mary Jane.

“A mark of a good brand repositioning is its ability to live as a multi-faceted entity,” said Jodie Silva, vice president of marketing and sales for Winter Park Resort in a press release dated Nov. 4. “This initiative has been a collaborative effort resort-wide. The Seven Territories are an experience and skiers and riders will be immersed in it with products, services, events, and promotional offers across the resort. Plus it will evolve and be expanded upon over the years.”

Why hike when you can sled?

The Cirque Sled is one of the more exciting pieces of the resorts re-branding effort. A large sled, capable of seating 48 people towed by a snowcat, will give skiers access to the 1,332 acres of backcountry style skiing in the Cirque, which previously was only accessible by hiking.

The double black diamond terrain found in the Cirque is some of the most extreme terrain the resort has to offer. The Cirque Sled is currently still under construction and should be operational well before the resort opens the territory. A small $10 fee will get you a ticket for the sled.

Weather forecast

“Normal” amounts of precipitation are forecasted for the upcoming winter months with an equal possibility for Grand County to see above or below normal amounts of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures could average a little above normal, according to David Darjenbruch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, though that seems to be a general trend in recent years.

Snowfall for the Winter Park Resort area averages around 350 inches during the winter months, with last year’s snowfall totaling 284 inches or 87.1 percent of the 10-year average. The 2011-12 snow year swung in very low at 57 percent of the 10-year average or 190 inches.

The resort could potentially see 65 more inches of snow this year if the forecast holds true.

Predictions say the chances of the area regressing into a drought are extremely low. The short-term forecast currently calls for a 40 percent chance of snow starting Wednesday night, to help usher in the new season, and continuing through Thursday night.

The snow is expected to ebb off on Friday and Saturday before another chance of snow is predicted for the rest of the weekend and continuing into Monday.

A cold front will drop the temperatures in the area to highs in the 30s with lows in the teens, according to the National Weather Service, which could help keep the snow on the ground during the first month of the ski season.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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