Pride shines brightly as Sunlight anticipates opening |

Pride shines brightly as Sunlight anticipates opening

A year ago this time, John Turkel was still mountain biking on the dry slopes at Sunlight Mountain Resort.

Not this year.

An early bounty of snow – 16 inches at the top of the mountain – glistened in the midday sun Thursday, beckoning skiers and snowboarders to get their gear tuned up and be ready for opening day on Wednesday, Nov. 27.

With that snow serving as a backdrop, department managers at Sunlight showed off their new grooming machine and were crowing about new features on and around the mountain.

Those features include a new extreme run called “Perry’s Plunge,” a new jib park with rails for skiers and snowboarders to do tricks, a new tap system at the bar with eight taps, a heated deck with an outdoor fireplace.

Sunlight will also roll out new Web site content next week, at http://www.sunlightmtn. com.

“There’s a lot of stuff on there that nobody else has,” Sunlight Communications Director Sheila Barber said.

The newly-designed site has Sunlight-specific weather forecasting, she said. It also will be easier to navigate and look better than the old one.

Summer bluegrass

Like many resorts across Colorado, Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky said Sunlight will concentrate more on increasing summertime activities.

“For us to stay healthy and stay ahead of the curve, summer business is going to be important,” he said.

One of those activities still in the planning stages is an Independence Day weekend bluegrass festival in 2003.

“We’re hoping to be successful with that,” Jankovsky said.

The festival, like GrooveGrass in 2000, will last three days and feature a slew of bluegrass bands at the base of the mountain.

Further plans are sketchy now, marketing director Turi Nevin-Turkel said, but more information will be released in the coming months.

Another possible plan for the summer is having a Native-American-style pow-wow, Jankovsky said.

Aside from winter and summer plans for Sunlight, Jankovsky also touched on possible plans for expanding the base area of the resort.

“We’re not in a position to do a big base-area development,” he said. “We decided we were going to run the ski area debt-free.”

In 1998, Sunlight’s owners announced a development proposal calling for condominiums in what is now the parking lot, high-speed lifts and expansion of lift-served skiing to Williams Peak.

But with the sluggish economy and such fierce competition in the ski industry, Sunlight’s owners decided to stick with the fundamentals for now, Jankovsky said.

“Before that gets turned around, the ski business is going to be very competitive for the next five years,” he said.

Basic utility improvements are slated in the area’s new five-year plan.

A proposed wastewater treatment at the resort is being reviewed by the state health department. The resort is making plans to build a water treatment plant after finishing the wastewater plant.

“We’re kind of setting ourselves up for growth, but it’s kind of slow,” he said.

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