skiing

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

This winter season has been a deadly one for avalanches. Many of those avalanches were caused by a single type of snow condition known as a deep persistent slab, which is dangerous and hard to predict. New research may help with that.

Daniel Gibeau, Courtesy Denizens of the Steep

Backcountry skiing has steadily become more popular in the last decade and the pandemic has heightened the popularity even more. An increase in recreationists though means wildlife are likely to experience more disturbances. In some wildlife populations, like the Grand Teton bighorn sheep herd, that has contributed to shrinking numbers and habitat size.

Aspen, Colo., has agreed to host the 2021 FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Championships in March after the original host city in China canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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Ninety percent of avalanche deaths are triggered by a person. In the first week of February of this year, avalanches in the United States killed at least 14 people. This is the highest number of deaths in a seven-day period in a hundred years. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska chatted with American Avalanche Institute's Jenna Malone, who attributed this season's high number of avalanche deaths to the gap in time between the early snow in the fall and more recent storms.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort / Instagram

Despite the pandemic, Jackson Hole hosted more visitors this past December than in that same month for 2019. But it's not all about skiing.

Anna Olson, CEO of Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, said they are seeing a different mix of visitors.

Some of the Mountain West's COVID-19 hotspots have been, and continue to be, areas with major ski resorts.


Wyoming Department of Transportation

The call for social distancing in the state is leading many people to the outdoors. But a high number of people are going to the Teton Pass west of Jackson, which is causing some public health concerns.

"With the current restrictions in certain places, we've got an extra amount of traffic that's going on up here. And generally speaking, we're okay with folks that are coming here as long as they're cooperative on our on our safety issues," said John Pistono, a Teton Pass ambassador.

Update 3/18/20 at 3 p.m.: Sleeping Giant announced on its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, March 18, that it will close.

"Due to new information and the most recent update from the Park County Health Officer, Sleeping Giant Ski Area has decided to suspend operations for the remainder of the season. This decision was not made lightly, but we must put the health of the community first. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Thank you for your continued support, have an enjoyable summer and hope to see you next winter." 

As of this time Anteloppe Butte lifts remain open six days a week and all food operations are closed. 

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The number of skiers led by ski guides out of bounds and into the backcountry at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort may double next season.

Kamila Kudelska

A small community ski hill west of Cody announced in January that it's unlikely to re-open next winter season.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Outlier weather events are growing more common globally, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is no exception.

Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area

The Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area will be opening for the season on Friday, December 20.

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It's already been a noteworthy season for Steamboat Ski Resort in Northern Colorado. In October alone, the mountain saw 63 inches of snow, a record high. And that's why the resort's Loryn Duke said it was an easy decision to open on November 15—it's earliest opening ever.

An industry trade group says uphill skiing is one of the fastest growing snow sports in the country, especially in the Mountain West.

KAMILA KUDELSKA

For a long time, ski resorts in the Mountain West were able to reach a full staff just by offering employees a season pass. It was the kind of deal a ski bum couldn't turn down.

Ski and snowboard season is already here.

 


The Modern West 43: Slippery Slope

Feb 22, 2019
KAMILA KUDELSKA

Ski season is upon us as the sport faces major changes: how climate change is affecting ski resorts and whether downhill skiing is turning into a sport reserved for the wealthy.

 

Wearing flannel, sporting beards and donning beanies, many of the workers at the DPS ski factory in Salt Lake City look like ski bums warming up between runs at the local resort. But they are hard at work crafting some of the most advanced skis in the world.

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

Mary Beth Coyne


Last February, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort launched a new extreme skiing and snowboarding competition. 18 men and seven women competed to be crowned the King and Queen of Corbet's. At the awards ceremony, the top male won $5,000 more than the top female finisher. The incident drew attention to the fact that there's nothing in place to guarantee equal prizes in big mountain freeskiing.

There's no doubt skiing can be a very expensive sport, and now there's a concern that mergers and acquisitions could make it even more pricey. So is it increasingly a sport for the wealthy?


At least two states in the Mountain West have opened ski resorts early due to healthy dumps of snow. Many more are scheduled to open next week. This could be a good sign for our region’s economy this winter.

The Snow King Ski Area in Jackson plans to build new infrastructure for outdoor activities, including a new gondola to the top of the mountain where visitors can access a new beginner slope.

Antelope Butte Foundation

The Antelope Butte Foundation has raised $360,000 to restore a chairlift. It’s the latest development in the effort to reopen the Antelope Butte Recreation Area near Sheridan. The ski area originally opened in the 1960s but closed in 2004.

Jonathan Selkowitz

While some communities celebrate football stars, snow-based sports dominate in Jackson Hole. The Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club inducted 10 new members into the club’s Hall of Fame during a banquet Saturday at Snow King Resort. Among the new Hall of Famers, former U.S. Snowboard Team member and pro snowboarder Rob Kingwill had easy access to ski lifts and training living next to Snow King Mountain.

Ryan Stanley

Quick recovery is key to avalanche survival. Experts say that 93 percent of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, but after that, the likelihood of survival declines drastically. That’s why wearing avalanche beacons and knowing how to use them is an absolute must for backcountry enthusiasts.

 

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The longtime President of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Jerry Blann is stepping down next year. He has overseen major changes at the resort since 1995. He joins Bob Beck to discuss how his vision to make the ski area a destination spot became a reality.

Petr Kratochvil / freestockphotos.biz

A program in Jackson is expanding to offer 17 scholarships to female skiers and outdoorswomen who want to improve their skills on the mountain. The Jackson Hole Babe Force scholarships will allow women to participate in American Avalanche Institute courses, the Elevate 1 Women’s Ski Camp in Jackson, and Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls in Oregon.

Tennessee Watson

Jackson, Wyoming is all about extremes. Folks from across the country flock to the mountain town to summit peaks, to ski fresh powder and to party. Athletes are revered for going over the edge, whereas those who fall into addiction are not. But what if the underlying cause of an avalanche death and a drug overdose are one in the same? The Mindstrength Project is taking advantage of that connection.

Zach Dischner

After a lengthy debate, the Wyoming Senate gave final approval to what’s known as the Ski Safety Act. The bill is intended to protect ski areas from litigation in case of injury or death.

Supporters say frivolous lawsuits drive up insurance costs for smaller ski areas. Cheyenne Senator Tara Nethercott added an amendment to make sure there was proper signage to protect skiers. She said those using the slopes are looking for a safe experience.

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