Aug 31, 2016 6:16 PM
WATERVILLE VALLEY - If everything goes to plan, one of New Hampshire's ski areas will look much different this winter.
The Green Peak Expansion is well underway at Waterville Valley Resort. The project involves cutting 45 acres of skiing and riding land, to be divided among ten new ski trails on the mountain.
The project is also the largest expansion to happen at the resort in more than 30 years.
"Hopefully we’ll get a nice Christmas surprise and we can get it up and running," said Chris Sununu, CEO of the resort and candidate for governor. "Again, we don’t want to promise a firm date to anybody but, yeah, that’s what we’re shooting for."
Sununu announced the project to the media, his employees, and loyal customers on Wednesday morning. The contractors on the project echoed Sununu's optimism for an early winter opening date.
"Come December, assuming mother nature cooperates, and she will, I have it on good authority, we’ll get the job done and it’ll be open for the ski season," said Rich Combs, general manager of SkyTrans Manufacturing, the company that is overseeing the project and will install a new ski lift to service many of the new trails.
Those trails are already taking shape, as cutting began last Friday. Sununu said the land for the trails will be cleared within a matter of just a few weeks.
Sununu also said the plan for the new trails was to pay tribute to "old school, New England skiing."
"Sometimes you see ski resorts where it looks like you put your hands in the sand and just pushed them down with some straight, long trails, but we're creating islands, we're creating features on curved trails," he said during the announcement. "We're creating something dynamic for the skier to really enjoy."
Another concern for all ski areas is snowfall, considering what has been a historically dry year so far.
However, Sununu said his team is optimistic they'll have plenty of snow.
"The forecast for this winter looks pretty strong, actually, with potential snowfall," he said. "Usually following an El Nino event, which was tough for us last year, we traditionally see pretty decent snowfalls. That’s what’s been predicted by a couple of forecasting agencies, so we feel very very good that it’s gonna be a great season."
The Green Peak Expansion is still in phase one, which includes building the trails, installing the new lift -- which contractors say will accommodate 1,800 people per hour -- and getting everything fully operational. Sununu said subsequent phases could come soon after, including snow making and other advanced features.
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