IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The days of discount skiing at Echo Mountain are over. A local ski club has bought the ski area and is turning it into a private ski racing and training center.

Echo Mountain opened in 2005 and had become a favorite spot for snowboarders who enjoyed its terrain park. The ski area is located only about 35 miles from Denver, on Squaw Pass Road out of Evergreen and not far from Interstate 70 and Idaho Springs. Last season it was home to about 40 employees and thousands of skiers and boarders.

The new center will allow only a few hundred young people to train there, and the ski coaches who will be in charge say that’s the beauty of the deal.

“It’s really just a dream come true to think about putting together one of the finest alpine training facilities in the country,” Front Range Ski Club coach Mike Farny told CBS4. “We want to turn this into a kind of into a skiing gymnasium. So when the kids come to train they’re not just going to be running gates, we’ll have mogul lines for them, we’ll have jumps for them. We’ll have different terrain features for them.”

Farny’s ski racing credentials are among the tops in the country. Now it’s his job to turn this mountain around and open for training in less than 60 days for teaching techniques that he says can’t be found anywhere else on the continent.

“We can control every aspect of the training. We no longer are dependant on working with a mountain, we’re controlling everything,” he said.

Sarah Schleper has raced in four Olympics and is now the World Cup-level coach at Echo Mountain. She said plan to buy the mountain didn’t start until late June, and the now it’s “like a dream coming into reality in less than three months.”

“It’s going to be this crazy alpine center that you can do a full length Super G run — that’s unheard of. And we’re going to have a rope tow so it will be like two minutes a lap, so you can get 40 runs in an hour and a half if you really go for it,” she said.

The family that bought the mountain lives nearby in Evergreen and has children who are ski racers. They told CBS4 it was either buy the mountain or move deeper in the mountains to a town like Vail or Aspen so the kids could get the proper training. Now they are hoping Echo Mountain can become an opportunity not just for their children, but hundreds in the Denver metro area.

The sale price for the ski area hasn’t been disclosed.

Skiing In Colorado

– Read recent Skiing stories.


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