Steamboat Ski Area enters city planning process with mountain coaster, mini-golf project | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Ski Area enters city planning process with mountain coaster, mini-golf project

Similar ride in Ontario reaches 26 mph

Steamboat Ski Area sibling in the Intrawest family of resorts, Blue Mountain, Ontario, already has the Ridge Runner mountain coaster, similar to the one planned for construction at Steamboat this summer. Riders control the speed up to 26 miles per hour.

— Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Vice President of Skier Services Jim Schneider has told city of Steamboat Springs officials the ski area would like to install its new mini-golf course and mountain Alpine coaster this summer with a possibility the coaster could begin operating as soon as autumn.

"The mountain Alpine coaster will operate year-round during daylight hours, and nights in the winter in conjunction with night skiing," Schneider wrote in a letter to the city planning department that accompanied a development permit application. "The mini-golf will operate spring through autumn during daylight hours."

Schneider said Friday he has enjoyed test driving mountain coasters at other locations in the West.

"These things are a blast," he said. "I just rode one up at Snow King (in Jackson, Wyoming), and I've ridden one at Park City. I've been studying them for a few years."

The coaster, which runs on a fixed rail, will tentatively follow a course that mirrors a portion of the Christie Peak Express six-passenger chairlift line. However, passengers will be transported uphill in the coaster toboggans themselves, and the upper terminus of the mountain coaster will be well below Christie Peak summit.

"The ride will be built between 4- and 30 feet-plus above the ground with jumps, waves and 360-degree circles on the track and operates in rain and snow," Schneider wrote in his letter to the city. "It will be built in the general proximity of the Christie Peak Express lift starting at the base and rising approximately 450 to 500 vertical feet with a riding length of (about) 3,500 to 4,000 lineal feet.

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"I think we've got a plan that works well and has minimal conflicts with skiing," he added.

Images of the Ridge Runner mountain coaster at Blue Mountain show riders protected from the elements (rain and snow) by a clear screen on the front of the toboggan. Prices for a single ride this season were $12 Canadian for youngsters 12 and younger and $15 for adults. The Blue Mountain Web page reports that riders control their speed up to 42 km per hour (26 miles per hour).

Schneider described the new activities as expanding on existing ski area operations within the outdoor recreation zone district at the base of the ski area. Ski Corp. previously operated a mini-golf course, which was suspended during construction of the snow-melted promenade at the base of the ski area and the daylighting of Burgess Creek.

"The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. was previously approved for the Steamboat Activity Park … at Gondola Square and vicinity, (which) included a variety of equipment including miniature golf, a challenge course, a bungee trampoline, a climbing wall and other similar activities," Schneider wrote. "These activities remain active with the exception of miniature golf, which was removed around 2007 as a result of the development of the Promenade and daylighting of Burgess Creek."

No driver's license required

Schneider wrote that the mountain coaster does not require skills on the part of riders. Guests ride single or double (an adult with a child) in toboggans attached to a six-tube stainless steel rail — first by being pulled to the top via a cable then "gravity-fed" back to the base.

The track’s fixed nature eliminates derailments, he wrote, and the toboggans have lockable safety belts with brake levers as well as "proximity braking," which automatically applies the brakes when a faster (rider) approaches another from behind.

The mini-golf course will comprise 18 holes generally in the area of the Christie Peak Express base. Don't be surprised if the course design includes some local landmarks.

"We won't do (the typical) windmills, but we might do the Steamboat Barn," Schneider said. "We've got Fish Creek Falls, Nordic ski jumps and the Rabbit Ears."

A similar course at Blue Mountain is terraced at different levels with ample landscaping.

The final design and hole layout, including landscaping and features, will be completed once the snow melts.

Public hearings regarding the ski area's plan have yet to be scheduled.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1