Planning Commission weighs in on plans for ski area’s mountain coaster, golf course | SteamboatToday.com

Planning Commission weighs in on plans for ski area’s mountain coaster, golf course

Scott Franz

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.

The Steamboat Ski Area’s plan to build a new mountain coaster and mini-golf course at the base of Mount Werner had a mostly smooth ride Tuesday at a city planning commission meeting.

The commission voted, 5-2, to recommend the new amenities be approved.

The proposals now go to the City Council for consideration.

Several of the commissioners who supported the project had already ridden mountain coasters at other ski resort destinations and raved about the experience.

Commissioner Michael Buccino described a ride on a coaster he took by moonlight near Glenwood Springs.

“The ride up was just as much a part of the experience as the ride down,” Buccino said.

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He also assured some commissioners who had questions about noise impacts that the ride does not generate a lot of noise.

Ski Area officials said the decibel readings from other coasters is comparable to people having a conversation or the sound coming from an air conditioner.

The coaster, which will run on a fixed rail, will tentatively follow a course that mirrors a portion of the Christie Peak Express six-passenger chairlift line.

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 ski area wants to construct the coaster this summer and begin operations as soon as the fall.

It will operate year round during daylight hours and at night during the winter.

Two planning commissioners weren’t ready to endorse the mountain coaster project, because they said the ski area did not provide clear architectural and engineering drawings that showed the height of the new attraction from the top of the mountain to the bottom.

“They haven’t shown us what the visual impacts are,” Commissioner Rich Levy said. “Until I can see what that visual impact is, I can’t judge whether there is a visual impact.”

Commissioner Martyn Kingston shared Levy’s concern.

Kingston also questioned whether the addition of new towers and bridges for the coaster would create more congestion for skiers in the area.

Jim Schneider, the ski area’s vice president of skier services, said he did not have any concerns about the ride’s impact on skiing operations.

“Skiers will be able to ski in the same places they always have,” he said.

He told the commission the ride will be built between 4- and 30 feet-plus above the ground with jumps, waves and 360-degree circles on the track.

It will operate in rain and snow.

Schneider also read a letter from Colorado Parks and Wildlife that quoted officials saying they had no concerns about the attraction’s impact on local wildlife.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10