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Where to Ski this Winter: U.S. Resort Upgrades & Improvements

Whether you stick to the bunny slope or prefer to tackle the black-diamond trails, check out what's new for the 2011-12 ski season at resorts in Vermont, Maine, Colorado, California, and more.

Ski resorts from coast to coast were busy this summer with all sorts of upgrades and improvements on-mountain and in the villages below. From newer and faster lifts to bigger and better terrain parks, the work has likewise been all over the map. Here's a sampling of some of the more noteworthy ski area improvements for the 2011-12 North American season, which is just getting going: Early snow in Colorado already opened Wolf Creek, Loveland, and Arapahoe Basin.

East Coast


    Burke Mountain
( has installed a new high-speed quad to the summit that's three times faster than the Willoughby Chair. You'll also enjoy five new trails from the top A new wind turbine helps offset energy use. (Opens mid-December)

Mount Snow ( expects to have the Bluebird Express -- the only high-speed detachable six-passenger bubble lift in the U.S. -- running for the start of the 2011-12 season. (Opens Nov. 26)
Stowe Mountain Resort ( has replaced its most popular lift, the 1980s-era Four Runner, with a new high-speed detachable quad chairlift to the top of Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. (Opens Nov. 19)
    Sunday River ( has added 60 acres of new glades in the Blind Ambition area, a blue/black trail with just the right tree density. You'll also enjoy improved snow-making and grooming. (Opens early November)


    ( has installed a new high-speed quad in the Tiehack Express on Buttermilk, cutting the ride time from 18 minutes on the old Upper Tiehack and Eagle Hill lifts to 7 minutes. (Opens Nov. 24) American Airlines has new non-stop flights to Aspen from L.A. and Dallas.
    Beaver Creek ( has a new high-speed four-passenger lift in Rose Bowl, as well as increased grooming on the bowl's black-diamond runs. You'll also enjoy new coaching clinics, women's workshops, and kid's programs. (Opens Nov. 23)

    In Avon, noted restaurateur Richard Sandoval took over the restaurant at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa.
    Copper Mountain
    ( has a new lift in the Union Creek high-speed quad, replacing the old High Point lift. (Opens Nov. 4)
    Loveland Ski Area ( replaced Chair 4 with a fixed-grip three-passenger chairlift that's much faster than its predecessor. (Opened Oct. 15)
    SolVista at Granby Ranch ( is improving its terrain parks, including features made from a satellite dish, a gas tank, and logs. (Opens Dec. 14)

      Big Sky Resort
    ( is opening five new blue and black trails on more than 20 acres of new terrain on Andesite Mountain. (Opens Nov. 24)
      Beaver Mountain
    ( near Logan has added a new beginner lift in the Little Beaver, increasing skier capacity and adding 400 more feet of terrain to the run compared to the old lift. (Opens early December)
    The Canyons Resort ( has completed its massive expansion, including a pair of new lifts. One of the newcomers has heated seats; there is also a new base area and more than 300 acres of new terrain. (Opens Nov. 25)

    Near Beaver, Eagle Point ( reopened last year (it was Mount Holly and Elk Meadows in its previous incarnations) and is adding 200 acres of new terrain, largely tree skiing and steeps for 2011-12. (Opens Dec. 15)
    Sundance Resort ( is moving and expanding its terrain park and keeping it open during night skiing. (Opens Dec. 10)
      Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ( added a new lift -- the double-chair Marmot -- that takes skiers and snowboarders 1,200 feet up from South Pass Traverse to the top of the gondola. You can also expect improved snow-making, grooming, and kid's facilities. (Opens Nov. 26)

      West Coast

        New for 2011-12, Squaw Valley USA ( and Alpine Meadows ( have teamed up to share their 6,000 collective acres via a single lift ticket or season pass and an interconnecting shuttle. This season marks the first phase of a $50 million improvement at Squaw. (Opens Nov. 23)
        Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort ( will offer snowcat service for expert skiers and riders to its recently opened backcountry terrain in Huckleberry Canyon. (Opens Nov. 24)

        Northstar Resort ( has added 170 acres of sidecountry terrain on Lookout Mountain with about 1,000 feet of vertical for advanced skiers and riders. Newly acquired by Vail Resorts last season, Northstar has $30 million in improvements underway. (Opens Nov. 18)