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Breckenridge Ski Resort is a world-renowned winter destination for skiers and riders, but it wasn’t always that way. Breckenridge’s humbling beginnings make its transformation into the mecca that is today all the more interesting. Learn about the Breckenridge Ski Resort History:
Late 1950s – The conception of building a ski resort in Breckenridge began when Bill Rounds of the Porter and Rounds Lumber Company became interested in bringing skiing to the valley. He created an organization called the Summit County Development Corporation led by Claude Martin and Bill Starks.
1961 – After some time, Trygve Berge convinces Bill Rounds that a ski area in Breckenridge could be a good business venture. Berge helps design the ski area and layed out the trail system. The Peak 8 Ski Area opened on Dec. 16, 1961, with one Heron double chair and a midway unloading station and one short learners T-bar. Ticket prices were $4 for an adult and $2.50 for children. Attendance ranged in the neighborhood of 17,000 skiers.
1962 – A 375-foot Constam double chair was installed up the “Mach One” trail. This season also marked the first Ullr Dag festival — which included a ski parade, competitions and aerial tricks demonstrated by ski school instructors. The festival came about because the majority of the ski school instructors were Norwegian.
1965 – Chair 2 was installed by Heron, which terminated near the top of the current Colorado SuperChair. A base lodge was completed on Peak 8, but the structure was short lived. An explosion destroyed the building shortly after completion. While an exact cause was never determined, a gas leak was suspected.
1967 – Harry Baum from Arapahoe Basin was in charge of operations at the ski area and later purchased the resort. That same year, a poma lift was installed near the summit of Chair 2 to what is now the summit of Chair 6, serving high-alpine bowl terrain. Skier visits topped over 140,000 people.
1970 – Aspen Skiing Company purchased Breckenridge and Baum was retained as the manager.
1971 – Peak 9 opens. During the summer, two new double chairs were installed along with multiple ski runs. Cost of the expansion was $4.5 million.
1972 – The popular C Chair was built with runs Union, Minnie and Silverthorn Cutoff. Ticket prices topped $6 per day with skier visits at 271,000 people.
1978 – A, # 4, and D Chair were all installed providing access on Peak 9. That same year, Aspen Skiing Company was sold to 20th Century Fox, which had vast profits from the hit movie Star Wars. During the late 1970s, the alpine slide was constructed providing summer on-mountain activities. Chair 6 was installed in 1979, which provided easier access to some of Breck’s bowls. New runs included Quandry, Too Much, Steilhung and Frosty’s Freeway.
1980/81 – The season marked a big drought for Breckenridge when only 86 inches of natural snow fell. Skier numbers fell to 195,000. Almost half the previous season. The following summer, Breckenridge heavily invested in snowmaking operations to prevent poor conditions seen the previous year. The world’s first high-speed quad was installed at the base of Peak 9 during the same year. The Doppelmayr Lift Company from Austria constructed the quad.
1981 – Breckenridge becomes first ski resort in North America to install a high-speed quad.
1983 – Lift ticket prices reached $19 per day, with skier visits at 673,000 people. The E Chair was installed, providing better access to some of Breck’s more challenging mogul runs off Peak 9. The following season, the infamous T-bar made its debut up the Horseshoe Bowl.
1984 – Breckenridge becomes first Colorado resort to allow snowboarding. The following year, it hosts the first snowboard World Cup and has hosted major winter events every year since.
1985 – Peak 10 opens
1986 – A large avalanche occurs on the Peak 7 Bowl, killing four skiers. Rescue efforts take days and news of the incident spreads across news stations. The terrain was considered out of bounds
1987/88 – Skier visits top 1 million people for the first time
1996 – Vail Resorts (VR) purchased Breckenridge along with Keystone. Now VR owned Beaver Creek, Vail, Arrowhead, Breckenridge and Keystone.
2002 – The long-awaited Peak 7 terrain was developed. The Peak 8 SuperConnect was also installed this year by Poma.
2005 – Breckenridge Ski Resort opens the Imperial Express chairlift — the highest lift in North America at 12,840 feet. The Imperial Express took the crown from Chair #9 at Loveland Ski Area.
2006 – The BreckConnect Gondola is built to facilitate development at Peak 7, Shock Hill, and Peak 8. It also elminates transport buses from the downtown parking areas to the ski area. To better integrate with the new developments, the Independence Express on Peak 7 was lowered to the midway station of the gondola, providing skiers quick access to Peak 7 terrain.
2007/08 – Breckenridge Ski Resort boasts an astounding 1.63 million skier visits, making it the most popular ski area in North America that year.
2013 – Breckenridge Ski Resort opens Peak 6, increasing the resort’s skiable acreage by 23 percent.