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Steamboat building dedicated beginner area in 2022

marzNC

Angel Diva
Steamboat has been a great resort for families with beginners for a long time. However, with the construction of the new beginner area mid-mountain, the experience is going to be amazing. The core principles of Terrain Based Learning (TM) will be fully implemented. There will be a dedicated lift that beginners can get comfortable with.

Check out the preview done by Deb Armstrong with the Steamboat Snowsports Director.

October 2022
 

newbieM

Angel Diva
That’s awesome. Every resort I’ve been to has the scariest lift for beginners that literally throw you off. Why is it only the expert stuff slows down nicely to let you off? I swear learning how to get off the lift on the beginner trails causes so much anxiety and I was so excited/relieved when I went up to harder terrain at least I didn’t have to worry about getting off the lift.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
That’s awesome. Every resort I’ve been to has the scariest lift for beginners that literally throw you off. Why is it only the expert stuff slows down nicely to let you off? I swear learning how to get off the lift on the beginner trails causes so much anxiety and I was so excited/relieved when I went up to harder terrain at least I didn’t have to worry about getting off the lift.
The older lift technology is called "fixed grip." The newer and much more expensive lifts that are much easier for beginners are called "detachable high-speed." A new detachable lift costs millions of dollars to install. Most resorts don't spend that kind of money for a lift that only serves beginner terrain. Or at least didn't until the last decade or two. Therefore most beginner lifts run faster than is completely comfortable for novice skiers.

If you noticed, the true "beginner lift" at Alta is now the chairlift to the Snowpine lodge. That is a quad that runs very, very slow to make it easy to load.
 

newbieM

Angel Diva
Oh thanks so much for teaching me the terminology. Makes sense. I’ve actually never done any of those lifts at Alta. My first lift there was sunnyside since I took a few lessons at Brighton before my first visit to Alta.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Oh thanks so much for teaching me the terminology. Makes sense. I’ve actually never done any of those lifts at Alta. My first lift there was sunnyside since I took a few lessons at Brighton before my first visit to Alta.
The old Sunnyside triple was fixed-grip. It's being replaced with a 6-seat detachable. That will make a huge difference for the Albion base.

For those unfamiliar with Alta, there are two bases. There is no beginner terrain on the Wildcat side. The Albion base and the Sunnyside lift is used by all types of skiers because it accesses the long green trails, as well as the mid-mountain lifts that have intermediate, advanced, and expert terrain.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Every resort I’ve been to has the scariest lift for beginners that literally throw you off.
Not that there is any reason for you to fly to the northeast for skiing from California, but there are two unusual beginner lifts that I've been on in that region. Wachusett near Boston put in a high-speed detachable quad that only serves two long beginner trails quite a while ago. Montage in PA has a very short old double-chair lift that runs really slowly and is good for teaching beginners how to load a fixed-grip lift.

The current owner of Montage didn't know how to ski he bought the place. So he learned as an older adult. He really appreciated the little beginner lift, so it's likely to be kept as long as there are parts available to keep it running. He told the story in a Storm Skiing podcast.

For little kids, the issue for a fixed-grip lift can be the height of the chair. The first time I took my daughter to Winterplace in WV after she learned to ski at Massanutten in VA, she almost didn't make it onto the double-chair from the base because we didn't know how high off the ground it was. It was late season, so there wasn't that much snow left. After that first ride, we knew she needed to time a jump to get on.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The development of the dedicated beginner area at Steamboat is part of a conscious shift at destination resorts to cater to beginners and intermediates.

December 3, 2022

The advantage of having a gondola as part of a fleet of lifts is that beginners can get up the mountain without have to deal with chairlift(s). Palisades Tahoe has had a beginner area at the top of a mountain for quite a while. Jackson Hole moved their Children's ski school program to mid-mountain, with a short gondola that parents can ride in street shoes for free to drop off their kids for lessons. The newer lodge at Stowe is at a completely different area than the traditional terrain that advanced skiers in the northeast have been enjoying for decades. Whiteface in Lake Placid, NY has spent several years completely re-working the beginner area that is completely separate from the main base.

Whiteface was the first place I rode a chairlift long ago. It was still not that beginner-friendly in 2014 when I spent a few days skiing there in January. It will have quite a different feel for beginners and intermediates by 2024 when all the major improvements are completed.
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That’s awesome. Every resort I’ve been to has the scariest lift for beginners that literally throw you off. Why is it only the expert stuff slows down nicely to let you off? I swear learning how to get off the lift on the beginner trails causes so much anxiety and I was so excited/relieved when I went up to harder terrain at least I didn’t have to worry about getting off the lift.
This reminds me of the steep exit to the beginner chairlift at The Remarkables - HORRIBLE on a snowboard, and yet the larger chairlift to access intermediate terrain is so much nicer to exit.
 

teppaz

Angel Diva
The development of the dedicated beginner area at Steamboat is part of a conscious shift at destination resorts to cater to beginners and intermediates.

December 3, 2022

The advantage of having a gondola as part of a fleet of lifts is that beginners can get up the mountain without have to deal with chairlift(s). Palisades Tahoe has had a beginner area at the top of a mountain for quite a while. Jackson Hole moved their Children's ski school program to mid-mountain, with a short gondola that parents can ride in street shoes for free to drop off their kids for lessons. The newer lodge at Stowe is at a completely different area than the traditional terrain that advanced skiers in the northeast have been enjoying for decades. Whiteface in Lake Placid, NY has spent several years completely re-working the beginner area that is completely separate from the main base.

Whiteface was the first place I rode a chairlift long ago. It was still not that beginner-friendly in 2014 when I spent a few days skiing there in January. It will have quite a different feel for beginners and intermediates by 2024 when all the major improvements are completed.
Most of the larger resorts are rethinking how they deal with beginners because they realize they need to raise their retention rate and turn beginners into lifelong enthusiasts. They are integrating everything from where the bus stop is to how to get from rentals to the ski school (ie do you need to walk a lot) and which runs get groomed and when. Also which runs get extra snowmaking facilities. Big Sky has really improved its snowmaking on Mr. K, its signature green run.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Most of the larger resorts are rethinking how they deal with beginners because they realize they need to raise their retention rate and turn beginners into lifelong enthusiasts. They are integrating everything from where the bus stop is to how to get from rentals to the ski school (ie do you need to walk a lot) and which runs get groomed and when. Also which runs get extra snowmaking facilities. Big Sky has really improved its snowmaking on Mr. K, its signature green run.
Snow Operating has been working with PSIA for several years. The focus is on the entire process of going skiing, not just the lesson. Fair to say that the old style gear rental systems were not beginner-friendly.

I have experienced the rental process at Big SNOW. I have seen the way the Massanutten rental process changed after they worked with Snow Operating. It's much easier for total newbies to know where to go.
 

bsskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Most of the larger resorts are rethinking how they deal with beginners because they realize they need to raise their retention rate and turn beginners into lifelong enthusiasts. They are integrating everything from where the bus stop is to how to get from rentals to the ski school (ie do you need to walk a lot) and which runs get groomed and when. Also which runs get extra snowmaking facilities. Big Sky has really improved its snowmaking on Mr. K, its signature green run.
Big Sky is creating a beginner section. They’ve also regraded Pacifier, which we used to call called Terrifier, because it’s was too fast especially for beginners. Mr K is always the first to open and last to close. It’s was a natural for snowmaking because it’s long and a thoroughfare for beginners and experts to quickly get to base. Like other resorts, BS sees a million rea$ons to focus on beginner skiers and move them to a special section to call their own.
 

KWlovessnow

Angel Diva
Beaver Creek has a gondola that serves their beginner terrain area at the base of the mountain. It was such a lifesaver with my young daughter when she was learning to ski. So glad that resorts are thinking of making the entire ski experience more accessible for the beginning skier.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Not that there is any reason for you to fly to the northeast for skiing from California, but there are two unusual beginner lifts that I've been on in that region. Wachusett near Boston put in a high-speed detachable quad that only serves two long beginner trails quite a while ago. Montage in PA has a very short old double-chair lift that runs really slowly and is good for teaching beginners how to load a fixed-grip lift.

The current owner of Montage didn't know how to ski he bought the place. So he learned as an older adult. He really appreciated the little beginner lift, so it's likely to be kept as long as there are parts available to keep it running. He told the story in a Storm Skiing podcast.

For little kids, the issue for a fixed-grip lift can be the height of the chair. The first time I took my daughter to Winterplace in WV after she learned to ski at Massanutten in VA, she almost didn't make it onto the double-chair from the base because we didn't know how high off the ground it was. It was late season, so there wasn't that much snow left. After that first ride, we knew she needed to time a jump to get on.
Bretton Woods in NH has a detachable quad for the beginner slope area. It runs very slowly. The safety bar comes down super low, and it has leather grip straps so little kids can reach up and lower it themselves. At the top unloading area, the pitch is not steep at all and there is plenty of room to go straight and coast to a stop without the need to turn.
 

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