Located west of Denver, the Echo Mountain ski area was recently sold at an auction to a company that plans to turn it into a ski training center. The new owner of the ski area is Pykkonen Capital LLC and the motivating factor behind the purchase was to provide a place primarily for school-aged young people to develop their competitive skiing skills. The resort will become the new home for the Front Range Ski Club, with changes being put in place as early as November to be ready for the upcoming ski season. Echo Mountain had a decent amount of snow in the past skiing season unlike some North American resorts, and the fact that it lies entirely on private land will give the new owners free rein to make changes to suit their needs.
In a published interview, Nora Pykkonen revealed that she had been considering moving her family to Vail to give her children more time on the snow. That idea was discarded in favor of buying the 226-acre Echo Mountain ski area and turning it into a place where her children could spend as much time as they needed to develop their skiing skills – and there will be top-tier coaches on hand to train them and other keen young skiers, including World Cup skiers Petter Brenna, Sarah Schleper-Gaxiola, Mike Farny and Patrik Järbyn.
Echo Mountain will be set up with stations focusing on specific skills, such as jump starts and sliding. On the completion of their run, skiers will have the opportunity to review their form on video, taking note of where there is room for improvement. Surface lifts will speedily take skiers to their starting points ensuring that every moment counts while training.
Pykkonen reportedly plans on investing $5 million in Echo Mountain in the coming seasons, with the possibility of developing beyond the current 80 acres of skiable terrain to deliver up to 1,500 vertical feet of skiing. Other plans include building a Super G course and a mogul lane, as well as a new restaurant. Snowmaking guns will supplement snowfall where necessary, and a shuttle system is envisioned to assist students across the metro area to get to the slopes.
Previous owner of Echo Mountain, Jerry Pettit, noted that this new development will be an interesting opportunity for young skiers and he hoped in the future to hear of an Olympic skier coming out of Echo Mountain.
Founded in 1976, the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum strives to maintain the legacy of snow sports in the region, specifically by preserving the history of the 10th Mountain Division which was the foundation upon which Colorado’s skiing community was built. The museum also maintains a comprehensive Olympics collection symbolizing the spirit and camaraderie of the snow sport community, and honors achievers by means of the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.
To qualify for the Hall of Fame, nominees must have made a significant contribution to the sport and industry of either snow skiing or snowboarding in Colorado. The accomplishments of individual nominees must have had a tangible benefit to Colorado, and have enhanced the image of Colorado as a source of skiing and snowboarding innovation. Hall of Fame inductees are voted in by eligible voting panel members.
After careful consideration, the 2012 inductees to the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame were chosen, and are: Bill Bergman, Toby Dawson, Tom Jankovsky, Jerry Gart, John Meyer, Ralph Walton and Paul Testwuide. Bill Bergman is credited with laying the groundwork of resort management – including designing environmentally-friendly trails and initiating snowmaking measures – that are currently practiced in leading resorts. He is considered to be the driving force behind turning skiing into a corporate enterprise.
2006 Olympic bronze medalist freestyle skiing champion Toby Dawson joins Hall of Fame inductees. Among his achievements are 7 World Cup titles and 17 podium finishes during his time with the US Ski Team. South Korean by birth, Dawson is currently the South Korean National Ski Team Coach and helped with that country’s winning bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. As the marketing director for Ski Industries of America, Jerry Gart has played a major role in bringing affordable ski equipment to the residents of Colorado. He founded the Colorado Ski Country USA Ski Lift Program and established Denver/Post Gart Bros. Ski School.
Tom Jankovsky has worked as the General Manager of Sunlight Mountain Resort and has been on the Colorado Ski Country USA Board of Trustees. John Meyer has enjoyed a 25-year career writing for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post, and has been recognized as “America’s Ski Writer” as well as being the dean of Olympic journalists in America. Paul Testquide started as a trail crew member back in 1963 and worked his way up to Vail’s Chief Operating Officer. He secured the water rights needed to facilitate snowmaking and managed the sustainable development of Blue Sky Basin, and the rebuild of Two Elks destroyed by arson. Ralph Walton bought Crested Butte Mountain Resort in 1970 and turned it around from bankruptcy to success. Among his achievements are being on the Board of Directors for Colorado Ski Country USA and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the NSAA. Certainly, these snow sport enthusiasts are all worthy recipients of being honored alongside existing Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame athletes and innovators.