Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
Look for: Two new lifts joining the fleet. The Harmony six-pack replaces a quad chair on Whistler, while Blackcomb’s Crystal Express high-speed quad takes the place of an old fixed-grip double in the Crystal Zone. The Crystal Express will increase lift capacity in that pod by a striking 56 percent.
Our take: Lift technology continues to get us up the mountain faster, more safely, and more efficiently, which means more skiing. That’s never a bad thing.
Beaver Creek, Colo.
Look for: A 500-seat restaurant at Red Tail Camp at the bottom of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships’ men’s and women’s downhill courses.
Our take: The Beav is thrilled to be hosting this race in 2015 and we’re glad to see the resort beefing up infrastructure to accommodate spectators.
Look for: The Four Points day lodge, opening in December on the spot where the iconic Four Points Hut stood since 1967 (it was originally a patrol shack). At an elevation of 9,716 feet, the 13,000-square-foot lodge will offer seating for 200 and a gourmet food court.
Our take: This is a badly needed upgrade for Steamboat, which hasn’t seen a new day lodge since 1990.
Look for: A new, faster six-pack at Mid Vail to take the place of the 1985 Mountaintop Express, one of the busiest lifts on the hill.
Our take: As far as lift capacity goes on a hill as busy as Vail can get, more is way better than less, no? Especially at traffic-jam prone Mid Vail—all the easier to get off the frontside and back into the bowls before lunch.
Copper Mountain, Colo.
Look for: A newer, faster version of the old Storm King chair (circa 1985) that will increase the number of skiers per hour to 1,000. Also in the works (but not yet approved by the Forest Service at press time), a new platter lift to connect the top of the Sierra lift with the top of the Mountain Chief lift, providing faster, easier access to Union Peak, Copper Bowl, and West Ridge.
Our take: Lower-impact surface lifts that get into bowls faster, and earlier in the season to boot? We’re in.
Look for: Breck’s much-anticipated Peak 6 terrain expansion, which increases the already huge resort’s skiable acreage by 23 percent, including 400 acres served by two new lifts and an additional 143 acres of hike-to terrain.
Our take: This was a contentious process that raised ire on all sides. In the end, Breck is the most visited resort in the U.S. (a title it swaps with sister resort Vail, depending on the season). This added pod will do its part to spread the crowds.
Look for: The highly anticipated Peak Lodge, which opens around Christmas. This day lodge has been under construction since 2011 and will feature a multilevel restaurant and lofty views from all angles.
Our take: Replacing the 1960s structure was necessary. The Beast of the East—and its legions of skiers—deserves a fine day lodge, particularly a new dining option in this location, at the top of the highly trafficked K-1 gondola.
Red Mountain, B.C.
Look for: In one one of the largest North American resort expansions in four decades, Red Mountain opens Grey Mountain, adding 997 skiable acres and bringing Red’s total to 2,787.
Our take: The new Grey terrain alone is bigger than Aspen Highlands, and will make Red comparable in size to Jackson Hole. We can’t wait.