Nav Menu

Jan's Blog

Why Watch Waterville Valley This Season?

November 20, 2017

This just in from Waterville Valley Resort.  The latest ENewsletter asks why you should watch Waterville Valley this season.


Waterville Valley Resort isn’t just making a few annual upgrades. What began as an expansion onto a new peak last fall has snowballed into a massive resort-wide, multi-year improvement plan, and that’s only part of the story.

This summer saw the launch of Phase II, a $7.5 million investment which will move the entire resort to the next level with renovations, upgrades, and innovations to snowmaking, terrain, lifts, activities, the base lodge, and the entire guest experience. New improvements have already begun debuting for the 2017/18 season and continuous development means more upgrades will roll out throughout the winter. Progressing to the Next Level isn’t just a tagline and it doesn’t stop at Phase II infrastructure improvements. Also new this season are innovations at the forefront of RFID technology, specialty instruction, and new world-class events. The monumental 2017/18 season kicks off on November 24th, and if Waterville Valley Resort isn’t on your radar, read on for all of the details of what’s new this season


Momentum for revitalization began in the Fall of 2016 when ground broke on Green Peak, the first major expansion in more than 30 years and the largest project of its kind on the East Coast. With construction beginning in late August, work continued throughout the season to open the first trails in January 2017 and the new lift in February. A total of seven of the 10 new trails opened with natural snow and strategic grooming, just six months after the first trees were felled. In the spring, the new trails also received their official names, nominated by the public to honor significant people in the resort’s history. After a busy summer of construction, 18,000 feet of snowmaking pipe and new snowmaking equipment has been installed on all but nine acres of Green Peak, bringing the resort’s total snowmaking coverage to 97%. Additional blasting, grubbing, and trail grading will make it possible for all 10 beginner, intermediate, and expert trails to open this season as weather permits. One of the new expert trails also received some extra attention this summer making it the first ever custom built freeride slope with natural terrain features enhanced and reinforced specifically for a freeride event. New Hampshire’s first IFSA Freeride Event will be held at Waterville Valley Resort on Jan. 27, 2018.


While momentum began with a terrain expansion, the $7.5 million investment dubbed “Phase II” is a resort-wide improvement plan with most new upgrades occurring on the main peak, Mt. Tecumseh. $1.15 million alone has gone to the purchase of 516 new Sufag high-efficiency tower and fan guns through a partnership with the French MND Group. Guests may notice the most dramatic increase in snowmaking capacity on the expert Sunnyside trails, True Grit and Lower Bobby’s. The birthplace of freestyle skiing, the historic runs received upgraded equipment plus the addition of tower guns to both sides of the trails in anticipation of returning this year’s U.S. National Moguls Championships to the East Coast. Resort-wide upgrades will increase efficiency and reduce energy costs and improvement efforts will continue through next year.


After receiving approval from the USDA Forest Service in mid-September, construction began immediately to install a new T-Bar lift on the summit’s High Country terrain. Trees were cleared and concrete footings poured as Fall came to a close, allowing for installation to continue over snow this season. The existing 1966 double chairlift will continue to operate for its final season until construction is complete, anticipated for Winter 2018. The original double chair will then be removed next summer. T-Bar surface lifts, once popular but since replaced by high-speed chairlifts, are making a comeback in popularity in New England. Exposed terrain susceptible to wind and weather is remedied with surface lifts that provide protection from the elements for more consistent operation and warmer skiers that can stay on their feet. The new High Country T-Bar will also provide slightly more elevation and skiable acreage, a 2.5 times faster ascent, and more convenient access to the lower terminal from the unload of other summit lifts.


While T-Bar lifts are still in demand for unique terrain needs, one of the last J-Bar lifts in New England has been removed from the Pasture, a learning area adjacent to the Base Lodge, to make way for two new Conveyor Lifts. The LST surface lifts are not only much more accessible to new skiers and especially snowboarders, but are also high-efficiency and energy saving. Terrain grading and earthwork prepared the trail for the two consecutive lifts, creating lower and upper access points to three distinct learning areas and more flat space conducive to instruction and early learning. Improvements to the learning area set the foundation for a base lodge expansion in 2018 to relocate the Rental Shop and Snowsports for direct access and better flow from arrival to getting out on the snow for the first time.


Also setting the foundation for future development is the completion of renovations to the first level of the Base Lodge. Major construction relocated the ticket and pass office with new front-facing ticket windows at the lodge entrance and ticket desk and pass office centrally located inside on the first floor. The Waterville Valley Adaptive Snowsports program was also moved to a redesigned headquarters with improved accessibility and function. Other additions include an improved changing and storage area, directional signage, and aesthetic enhancements. The extensive first floor renovations are just 23% of the final project but are crucial to building the foundation for more convenient traffic flow and access to amenities. A 12,000 sq. ft. expansion, set to begin in summer 2018, will include a new rental shop to complete the convenient pathway from arrival onto snow. The expansion will also add more lounge and recreation space, with a focus on mountain views and amenities, and extend this season’s new aesthetic improvements and design throughout the lodge.


Make Your Mountain Bigger with new resources to expand abilities and experience for every age, level, and discipline. This season, as Waterville Valley Resort is Progressing to the Next Level, so are its guests. All-Mountain Progressive Programming will help anyone improve, try new things, or remove the barrier of uncertainty or fear. Educational signage will identify specialty terrain, levels of difficulty, and tips to get anyone started in the right direction and trying something new. Furthermore, specialty clinics offered in the four disciplines of parks, moguls, glades, and racing will offer new skills and terrain options to the intermediate or advanced skier or rider’s repertoire. Terrain features and clinics will continue to roll out and vary throughout the season for continuous progression, challenge, and most importantly, fun!


Developed at Waterville Valley Resort by the Affinity team, led by Chris Bradford, the new Gateless RFID is the first system of its kind to implement passive RFID technology. That means no more barcode scanning and no gate readers, just direct-to-lift access for less waiting in lines and more skiing and riding. Debuting for the 2017/18 season, the proprietary innovation will revolutionize how skiers spend their day on the slopes. This season will focus on making lift access effortless and will also give guests the ability to reload passes at home and bypass the ticket office. Also currently in development, an integrated mobile app will give users the option to track personal stats and progress. Future applications of the technology could improve safety and security, allow social engagement and communication, improve access to resources and deals, and give direct access to all resort amenities and conveniences. Skiers and riders at Waterville Valley Resort this season will be the first to experience the forefront of innovations to lift access and ticketing.


Waterville Valley Resort has a long history of commitment to world-class athletes and innovation. Known as the birthplace of freestyle skiing, the first formal freestyle instruction program formed at Waterville Valley Resort in 1969. By the next year resort founder, Tom Corcoran, and editor of Skiing Magazine, Doug Pfeiffer, had organized the first National Open Championships of Freestyle Skiing on the resort’s Sunnyside trails. This spring, the nation’s best freestyle skiers will again compete on the historic slopes during the 2018 U.S. National Freestyle Championships. After five years on the West Coast, the moguls events will return to the East on March 20-24, 2018. Preceding the March National Championships and February’s returning Toyota Revolution Tour, another new event will echo a history of innovation. During construction on new Green Peak trails this summer, which all focus on existing terrain strengths and natural features with an air of old-school New England style skiing, one expert trail stood out to a couple of freeskiers. So, instead of removing natural features, they were enhanced and reinforced to create the first custom-built freeride slope. The IFSA U12 Junior Regional Freeride Open on January 27, 2018, will be the first in New Hampshire and one of only two IFSA events hosted on the East Coast this season.

All I can say is WOW!  My family has been skiing Waterville Valley since the early 1970s.  I haven’t seen this much energy, excitement and enthusiasm for a number of years.  Congratulations to the Waterville Valley Resort team and owners for leading us to the #NextLevel!

Waterville Valley ski area opening day 2017

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

3 thoughts on “Why Watch Waterville Valley This Season?

  • Jennifer Saffran says:

    In some earlier press reports there was mention of improvements to some Nordic trails as well. Can anyone comment on that?

    • Jan Stearns says:

      Hi Jennifer! I will ask the powers-that-be and report back here.
      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

    • Jan Stearns says:

      Hi Jennifer. I reached out to Waterville Valley Resort’s communications manager regarding your question. Here’s Whitney’s response:

      The nordic improvement project we had planned at the beginning of the summer was an infrastructure upgrade to one of the bridges. It isn’t really anything skiers will see any effect from on the trails and the construction timeline has changed as we have had to spend more time in the early design and development than anticipated. We are working closely with the U.S. Forest Service and will continue to work on that project but it is more of a behind-the-scenes improvement than something that will affect the skier experience.

      In other news, we do have some more recent additions to the nordic experience that will make a big difference this season. Nordic groomers received a new snowmobile and a drag, which allows more opportunity to groom on early season terrain, with the goal of having more terrain open sooner this year, weather permitting. We also now have a roller, which will allow us to pack the snow before getting on it with a cat, helping maintain and build a thicker base throughout the season. One of our new Sufag high-efficiency fan guns has also been placed and is ready to make snow in town square and the learners area as soon as we have consistent conditions so we should be in a better position to build a good base early season and help mother nature out throughout the year.

      I know Ian [Cullison, Nordic Center Director] has lots of fun stuff planned as well, so stay tuned for more news as we really get into the season.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Waterville Valley. Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll want to call it your own.

    Market UpdateResort InsiderLinksWaterville Valley Resort