History of Telluride Ski Resort

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Home > Colorado > Colorado Cities > Telluride > Winter Activities > Ski Resort History    [ bookmark this page ]

Page Title: History of Telluride Ski Resort
Page Synopsis: The history of Telluride Ski Resort.

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History of the Telluride Ski Resort

Founded in 1878, Telluride prospered as a mining town until 1953, when it fell under the spell of a ghost town for nearly 20 years. Resurrected in the 1970s by Joe Zoline, an entrepreneur from the West Coast, and the Swiss firm Simonius-Vischer, the Telluride Ski Area first opened its runs in the winter of 1972-1973, with five lifts and a day lodge. The Coonskin Lift debuted in 1975 as the first lift on the north side of the mountain, connecting the existing ski area with the town of Telluride. In 1978, two Colorado natives, Ron Allred and Jim Wells, purchased the ski area from Zoline and the Simonius-Vischer Corporation. In an effort to attract destination guests, Allred and Wells developed Bachman Village, creating a number of short-term beds in town, and invested $4 million in the design and construction of the Telluride Regional Airport, which opened commercially in 1985.

Growth on the mountain was inevitable, and between 1984 and 1986, Telluride installed a high-speed quad, replaced Lift 4, added two lifts to the town of Telluride side and a surface lift to the race hill. Improvements continued with the purchase of snowcats and snowmaking equipment, development of trails and the restoration of the historic Gorrono Ranch to serve as an on-mountain restaurant.

Allred's and Wells' vision of a high-end community on the mountain came to fruition with the founding of Mountain Village in 1987. The addition of an 18-hole golf course in Mountain Village in 1992 transformed the Telluride Ski Area into the Telluride Ski & Golf Company (Telski). Subsequently in 1994, Telski built new corporate offices, various facilities for mountain operations, golf and skier services, and Big Billie's, a 200-seat restaurant and 150-unit employee housing complex at the base of Lift 1.

The following summer, Telski built the world's first "chondola," a high-speed lift with both quad-chairs and gondola cabins, as a means of transporting employees and the public to the village core during skiing and non-skiing hours. Keeping pace with innovative transportation, Telski opened the gondola in 1996, an efficient and environmentally friendly means of carrying passengers between Mountain Village and the town of Telluride in just 12 minutes. The only one of its kind in North America, Telluride's gondola won Outstanding Transit Project of the Year from Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) and the Resort Access Innovation award from the former Mountain Sports & Living magazine.

Telski has invested over $50 million in capital improvements within the last five years, including:
  • 1997-1998 - over $7 million in the Mountain Village Activity Center and Surge Air Garden terrain park
  • 1998-1999 - $4.3 million in the Telluride Teaching System, Ski Right Center, new trails, snowmaking improvements, golf course renovation, groundbreaking for the new Allred's restaurant
  • 1999-2000 - over $10 million in three new lifts, (two high speed detachable quads and one fixed grip triple), trail improvements, golf course improvements
  • 2000-2001 - over $8 million in snowmaking infrastructure, completion of Allred's Restaurant, golf course enhancements, website redesign, continued work on expansion area to provide more intermediate and expert terrain for the future
  • 2001-2002 - $14 million in three new high speed detachable quads, snowmaking, buildings and infrastructure for the opening of an additional 733-acres of new terrain, Prospect Bowl
  • 2002-2003 - over $1 million for the finishing touches in Prospect Bowl and construction of a new & improved terrain park
  • 2003-2004 - half a million dollars in on-mountain restaurant renovations and trail & lift improvements
In July of 1999, Telluride Ski Resort aligned itself with Hideo "Joe" Morita, an avid skier and owner of Aria Ski Resort in Japan. Mr. Morita gave the resort the flexibility and latitude to focus on guest service and significant improvements. A year later, MINT purchased Telski's remaining limited partnerships to become the 100 percent owner. Telski's current five-member executive board consists of Ron Allred; ski industry veteran Chris Ryman; financial strategist Betsy Cole; attorney Jim Wear, president of Morita Properties, Inc.; and Carol Templeton, director of MINT. Morita is currently seeking a joint partner for resort operations.

Home > Colorado > Colorado Cities > Telluride > Winter Activities > Ski Resort History    [ bookmark this page ]

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