By Karen D. Lorentz
Killington and Pico have a new sister with parent/owner Powdr Corp., which purchased Eldora Mountain Resort in Colorado on June 6. The acquisition fits in well with Powdr’s focus on bringing new folks into snow sports, as the area caters to beginners and is close to over 3 million people in the Metro Denver region. The new addition to Powdr Resorts also complements Powdr’s presence in Colorado as the owner of Copper Mountain.
“Colorado’s Front Range is one of the best ski markets in the world. Expanding our footprint here with now two of the most accessible resorts to serve those passionate skiers is an enormous honor,” said John Cumming, CEO/owner of Powdr in a release.
In Dec. 2009, Powdr purchased Copper Mountain, 75 miles west of Denver and renowned for its terrain design; Woodward at Copper (the nation’s first year-round snowboard and ski training camp dedicated to park and pipe progression), and backcountry terrain.
“Eldora is admired as a leading entry point and training ground for children and beginners. We want to work hard for more people to join us in the adventure-filled world of snow sports,” Cumming noted.
Killington’s Director of Marketing, Sales and Reservations Rob Megnin, who was director of marketing at Eldora from 2000 to 2003, commented, “Eldora is more accessible than resorts on the I-70 corridor, and is naturally oriented toward day-trip visits and learn-to programs. It’s a great complement to Copper as a feeder resort and development area to bring skiers and riders into the sports and the area. With its high-elevation base area, it is insulated from weather anomalies in Denver or the lower Front Range and gets great natural snow.”
Eldora opened in 1962 and operates on a lease in the Roosevelt National Forest, and is close to the major population centers of Denver (47 miles) and Boulder (21 miles). Eldora is one of the few Colorado ski resorts on the east side of the Continental Divide and features 11 lifts, 53 trails and a 1,600-foot vertical with a top elevation of 10,800 feet and a base at 9,200 feet above sea level.
The area averages 300 inches of snowfall annually, boasts the ability to cover 100 percent of its terrain by snowmaking, and offers 680 acres of skiable terrain. It has beginner trails on Little Hawk Mountain, intermediate and advanced runs on Challenge Mountain, and expert terrain in Corona Bowl, thus catering to all ability levels.
Eldora also features a full-service (rentals, lessons, packages) Nordic Center with 40 km of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. There is no lodging at the mountain, but Eldora’s current Director of Marketing and Skier Services J.P. Chevalier told the Mountain Times, “Boulder offers great restaurants and a diversity of plentiful lodgings at a fraction of the cost of mountain resorts.
“Eldora is known for its sensational snow and as a place to learn,” he added. Known as a day area with bus service to Boulder, Chevalier said visitors can fly in to Denver and stay in Boulder at 5,400 feet and then experience the high-elevation skiing/riding Colorado is known for at Eldora without experiencing altitude sickness due to the acclimatizing process.
He explained the area’s popularity by noting that about 9 percent of Colorado’s estimated 5.2 million people ski. “Those 500,000 Colorado skiers account for about 5.6 million of the state’s 12.6 million skier visits,” he said.
Eldora’s Super Value Season Pass is currently $289 for the upcoming season, and that will stay the same under Powdr ownership, Chevalier said. Eldora is also included in the Rocky Mountain Super Pass Plus season pass program, which includes Copper and Winter Park, with additional days offered at Steamboat, Crested Butte, Alyeska, and several international destinations.
Sale to Powdr
William Killebrew, who has run Eldora for the past 25 years with partners Graham Anderson, the late Chuck Lewis (founder and former CEO of Copper Mountain) and Penny Lewis, said of the sale, “I’ve had the privilege of knowing John Cumming for nearly 30 years. He has built a great adventure company and has the reputation as an outstanding operator. When we decided to consider selling Eldora, we wanted to put our resort in the best hands possible and Powdr was the first company that came to mind.” (Killebrew and Cumming both were mentored in the ski business by the late Nick Badami.)
Eldora has a master plan in progress and received U.S. Forest Service approvals in 2016 for lift upgrades among other improvements, which Powdr is in good position to bring to fruition, Killibrew told the Denver Post.
Powdr is a private, family-owned company with a focus on the ski business rather than real estate development. It has good geographical dispersion of its eight alpine resorts—Killington, Pico, Mt. Bachelor, Boreal, Soda Springs, Lee Canyon (a.k.a. Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort), Copper, and now Eldora—in the top ski states of Colorado, California, Vermont, Nevada, and Oregon plus Gorgoza Park, a major tubing facility in Utah. Powdr is one of the top five North American ski companies in terms of numbers of areas and total skier visits.
Powdr also owns Woodward action sports camps and progression centers; Outside Television, a national television network dedicated to active lifestyle; Human Movement Management, a national events company; and Powdr Enterprises, a sports marketing and entertainment company.
By Karen D. Lorentz