For far too long, beginner skiers have been relegated to the lower mountain, usually just off a parking lot and within easy reach of a base lodge. While this logistically makes sense, it deprives learners of one of the best parts of the sport: taking in the majesty of the mountains.
Beaver Creek addresses this issue with a terrain expansion scheduled to debut in time for the 2021-’22 season. On July 1, the Colorado resort broke ground on McCoy Park, 17 new runs, two quad chairs, and a warming hut located at almost 10,000 feet just below Larkspur Bowl that’s designed to get learners safely up to the upper mountain on gentle learning terrain.
The three intermediate and 14 beginner runs of McCoy Park comprise a third Signature Park for learners at Beaver Creek (Red Buffalo and Haymeadow are the other two). McCoy is already home to the resort’s Nordic skiing operations, which will remain in place but will be scaled back to accommodate the new downhill terrain. The 250 new acres will be a huge boon to the beginner experience at Beaver Creek, and will be one of the few places where those new to the sport can learn to ski with a mountaintop backdrop providing the vibe and views that are usually only afforded to the more advanced.
“Beaver Creek has expanded and evolved through the years, but has always stayed true to the family experience,” says Carl Eaton, son of Vail Founder Earl Eaton and current Director of Lift Maintenance at Beaver Creek. “It’s what keeps me and my family here year after year. It has been great to watch my son, now 10, grow up learning to ski here.”
The idea behind these Signature Parks is to get skiers of more abilities up and around the mountain to fully enjoy what skiing has to offer. In other words, the beginner experience doesn’t have to be so static, nor take place in a vacuum.
“Adding these two lifts will change the flow on the mountain, as we saw when we introduced Red Buffalo Park,” says Gary Shimanowitz, Beaver Creek’s Vice President of Mountain Operations. “We’ll provide a better experience for our guests, spreading skiers and riders out into varied terrain across the mountain.”
In addition to the new terrain, a warming hut and bathrooms both at the top and bottom of the new terrain pod will ensure that newer skiers have everything they need, despite the fact that this terrain is far away from the base.
“A project like this takes so much planning and coordination,” says Shimanowitz.” We’re lucky to have great partners at the USFS and so many experienced members of the team, from planning to mountain operations to lift installation.”
We say whatever lures more prospective skiers to slopes—and keeps them coming back—is a huge step in the right direction.