Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Mini burro makes history by winning Sunday’s historic World Championship Pack Burro Race in Fairplay

#Fairplay #Colorado
Photographer:  Julie Bullock

 In a year when 12-foot-high snow drifts prevented Fairplay’s World Championship Pack Burro Race from reaching the 13,185-foot summit of Mosquito Pass for the first time, it was a 33-inch tall miniature donkey who was up to the challenge on rugged Rocky Mountain terrain.
Leadville ultra runner Marvin Sandoval — all 5 foot, 3 inches and 140 pounds of him — paired with 3 1/2-year-old Buttercup to capture victory at the 2019 Fairplay Burro Days World Championship on Sunday. In Sandoval and Buttercup’s first world championship race, the duo completed the altered 26.4-mile course in a time of 4 hours, 58 minutes and 7 seconds — 5 seconds ahead of runner-up Bob Sweeney and his (much larger) burro Yukon (4:58:12).
Despite her diminutive stature — small even for a miniature donkey, which is classified as 40 inches or smaller in burro racing — Buttercup led Sandoval to the finish line after he employed a racing strategy in which he saved as much of her energy as he could until the home stretch. Once they crossed the finish line on Fairplay’s Front Street, Buttercup became the first miniature donkey to win the Fairplay race, an event historically dominated by standard- and mammoth-size donkeys in its 71-year history. 
“I think she was the one who wanted to win,” Sandoval said. “She’s tiny compared to the donkeys that she’s racing against. She’s a mini mini.”
Months ago, Sandoval would have found it far fetched that he would win the world championship race, let alone with Buttercup. The experienced ultra runner — who won the Leadville Race Series’ Leadman trail run and mountain bike challenge in 2015 — only came across Buttercup serendipitously several months ago while down in New Mexico, just a few months after he first got into burro racing. At the time, Sandoval and his wife scoured Craigslist for miniature donkeys for their daughter and came across some for sale in New Mexico. But when the final purchase of the miniature donkeys didn’t work out as planned, the family stopped at a roadside burger joint for one last meal in New Mexico before heading home. 
Glancing at Craigslist again, Sandoval saw three miniature donkeys for sale 20 miles away. One of those donkeys was Buttercup, who Sandoval decided to run with just two days before the June 8 Creede Donkey Dash.
“And when we showed up, Buttercup walked right up to me, and I was sold,” Sandoval said. “Just a little cutie, a sweetie pie — you wouldn’t think she’s a determined racer if you just met her.”
After Buttercup earned her racing legs in Creede, the pair taking third place at that race, Sandoval decided to stick with her for the Fairplay world title race instead of racing her sister Snickers, a donkey Sandoval thinks is faster but who he’s never really been able to run with due to a lingering injury. 
Practicing on county roads near his home in Leadville, Sandoval knew he and Buttercup would have a chance. Then once the race started, he saw her competitiveness and her zest to lead the race’s pack early in the race.
It was with two miles left in the race, as they neared town, when Sandoval led Buttercup off course. Race veteran and 2019 fourth-place finisher George Zack yelled ahead to Sandoval helping him return to the course. The yell made Buttercup anxious, though, Sandoval having to settle her saddle on her back before she sprinted as fast as she had all day through the finish line near historic South Park.
“I knew that no miniature had ever won because there was even a question by some of if a miniature could do it,” Sandoval said.
Sandoval and Buttercup will race in this weekend’s second leg of the annual burro racing triple crown, the 71st annual Leadville Boom Days Pack Burro Race, a 21-mile race that will reach the top of Mosquito Pass. If they win in Leadville, Sandoval said the duo might also race at the following Sunday’s third leg of the triple crown, the 46th annual Buena Vista Gold Rush Days Pack Burro Race, a 13-mile course.
Long day in Fairplay
Fairplay local Bryan Shane and his burro, Margarita, were the final racers to cross the finish line Sunday night.
Shortly after 9 p.m. — 10 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds after they started the race — crowds cheered the pair home after seeing the glimmer of Shane’s headlamp from just outside town. Behind a police escort due to the darkness, Shane said Margarita gave it one last inspired go through the home stretch after he thought she wouldn’t budge after pausing for 90 minutes on the outskirts of town.
Shane said he knew about 9 miles into his first long-course race that Margarita wasn’t feeling like racing. So he was elated to see the crowd’s reaction when they opened the gate to Front Street from historic South Park.
“My favorite quote for the day is a Mike Tyson quote,” he said, “‘Everybody’s got a plan till they get punched in the face.’”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Pet Scene: Summit County’s adoptable pets for the week of July 28

#Summit County #Colorado
Leo | Michael Yearout Photography

Contact the Summit County Animal Shelter at 970-668-3230.
LARRY, 3 years, Domestic Longhair, orange and white, neutered male
FRANKLIN, 4 years, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, neutered male
MISS KITTY, 7 years, Norwegian Forest Cat, tortie and apricot, spayed female
CATALONIA, 7 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, white and gray, spayed female
MR BISCUIT, 7 years, Domestic Shorthair, gray tab and black tiger, neutered male
PENELOPE, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair, gray tab, spayed female
LEO, 5 years, Domestic Longhair, orng tabby, neutered male
DEXTER, 5 years, Domestic Mediumhair, black and white, neutered male
BOBO, 6 years, Domestic Mediumhair, dil calico, spayed female
GAMORA, 12 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, black, spayed female
YONDU, 4 months, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, neutered male
DRAX, 10 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, white and gray, neutered male
SNOWFLAKE, 2 years, Snowshoe, seal point, neutered male
MAX, 4 years, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, neutered male
ROMEO, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, neutered male
ALLY, 10 weeks, Domestic Mediumhair, tortie, spayed female
MOSA, 10 weeks, Domestic Mediumhair, orange and cream, neutered male
LILY, 1 year 1 month, Domestic Shorthair, white and orange, spayed female
NUTMEG, 4 years, Domestic Shorthair and Manx mix, tortie, spayed female
ANOUK, 9 months, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female
DIXIE, 8 years, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female
MIMI, 1 year 11 months, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female
PUPPET, 1 year 2 months, Domestic Shorthair, gray and white, neutered male
DARTH, 5 years, Domestic Longhair, black, neutered male
RICKY, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair, black, neutered male
VIVIAN, 11 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, tortie, spayed female
BLOSSOM, 1 year, Domestic Mediumhair, white and gray, spayed female
VINNIE, 11 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, neutered male
VALOR, 11 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, gray tab, neutered male
VELCRO, 11 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, black, neutered male
VANCE, 11 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, orng tabby, neutered male
VIOLET, 10 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, tortie, spayed female
VERONICA, 10 weeks, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby and orange, spayed female

WINSTON, 10 years, Border Collie and Australian Cattle Dog mix, black and white, neutered male
JEWELL, 2 years, Border Collie, black and white, spayed female
COFFEE, 2 years, Pomeranian and Chihuahua – Smooth Coated mix, brown, neutered male
KEYANA, 10 years, Greyhound and Siberian Husky mix, black and gray, spayed female
NELLIE, 3 years, Chihuahua – Smooth Coated and Dachshund mix, black and white, spayed female
GEORGE STRAIT, 5 years, Australian Cattle Dog, blue merle and red, neutered male
SAM, 7 years, Pit Bull Terrier mix, black and white, neutered male
KEELEY, 3 years, Australian Kelpie mix, brown and white, spayed female
CHANCE, 5 years, Boxer, tan and black, neutered male

   Courtesy Summit Daily.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Volunteers spruce up Sapphire Point

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily

Sapphire Point is truly a crown jewel of Summit County. The breathtaking lookout point and associated loop trail off of Swan Mountain Road got some love and attention this weekend, as volunteers from the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and U.S. Forest Service did maintenance work at the popular site.
Built as part of the Swan Mountain Road project in the 1960s, Sapphire Point is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the county. It offers jaw-dropping views of Lake Dillon, the Tenmile Range and the Gore Range to the north.
The view at the main lookout point, facing the southern end of Lake Dillon toward Breckenridge, is one of the best in Summit. It is also the backdrop for the only designated wedding site in the Dillon Ranger District, a charming alcove framed by tall pines and hemmed with a low stone wall where hundreds of couples have said “I do” over the years. 
But Sapphire Point’s popularity is starting to take its toll. The trail is showing heavy wear from the thousands of visitors who walk the loop, which is a bit longer than a half-mile. Tripping hazards from exposed roots, rocks and old drainage sluices have made the short stretch of trail from the entrance down to the wedding site precarious, particularly for wheelchair users.
FDRD program manager Doozie Martin said the mountain was also trying to “reclaim the trail,” with the embankment near the entrance slowly collapsing on to the path, with no retaining wall to keep it stable. 
The parking lot at the lookout is meant to only park 22 vehicles, but on any typical summer weekend the lot is usually overflowing, with dozens of cars illegally parked wherever they can fit. Traffic to the site from Swan Mountain Road has also increased every year, necessitating the county to start making improvements for driver and cyclist safety.
Recognizing the site’s popularity, volunteers from FDRD joined the forest service on Saturday morning to perform trail maintenance and make improvements to amenities at the lookout. Among the volunteers was an Eagle Scout looking to snag another badge, with his friends joining to help him.
The volunteers performed a variety of tasks, including removing tripping hazards from the trail with shovels and picks, grading work at uneven parts of the path, digging out old drainage sluices that no longer worked, restacking rocks and stabilizing the stone wall at the wedding site to make it more aesthetically pleasing, and sanding and staining benches and tables further along the trail. Contractors with chainsaws were also on hand to cut down beetle-killed trees on the adjoining hillside.
Martin said that there was only so much volunteers could do by hand, and a lot of the work needs to be done by heavy machinery and professional contractors. But, he said, the Forest Service does not have it in their budget to do that work, so volunteers stepped up to do a few small projects in the meantime.
One of the primary goals of the day was to help make the trail safer and accessible to people with wheelchairs and walkers, especially given the wedding site’s popularity.
 “The idea is to make it more accessible,” Martin said. “It’s not ADA compliant, but we want to try to allow some new user groups to use the area.”
Along with the grading work, a retaining wall needs to be built along the inside of the path to keep the aforementioned embankment from collapsing, an expensive and onerous task that can only done by professionals. Martin hopes that FDRD can raise enough money to make the big improvements next year.
Aside from eroding infrastructure, the site’s popularity has created a bit of a ecological issue. The site is also famous for its teeming village of rambunctious chipmunks, and it has become a pastime for kids and adults to feed them handfuls of sunflower seeds.
Standing among small piles of sunflower seed shells around the site, Chris Walsh from the U.S. Forest Service said the forest service does not recommend people feed the chipmunks as they are becoming acclimated to humans, interfering with the local ecosystem. Walsh said there was also a health concern, as chipmunks, which are rodents, may carry disease.
 New local Doug Stratton was one of the volunteers working at the site, laboring under the sun to get rid of a hazard on the trail. Stratton, who has only lived in the county for a month, said he was a “proud volunteer” who had just moved here and “planned to be buried here,” saying he loved the community. Sapphire Point, to him, represented much of what he loved about Summit.
“It’s not only the natural beauty and serenity, it’s the peace of mind,” Stratton said. “People come here, walk and sit on the benches, and look off into the distance quietly. I think that’s quality time.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Mortgage borrowers’ FICO scores rise to a 3-year high

Strong labor market makes borrowers more creditworthy.

The average credit score of borrowers who got all types of mortgages in June rose to 731, an almost three-year high, as a strong labor market helped Americans pay their bills on time. 
The rate was the highest since September 2016, according to Ellie Mae. Measuring just conventional mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the average FICO score was 742 for refinancings, the highest since November 2016, and 754 for loans to buy homes, which matched last month's level that was the highest since June 2017, according to Ellie Mae data. 
Higher FICO scores weren’t the result of lenders tightening standards. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index that measures how easy it is to get a loan was at a record high in June, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. (See chart below.) The MBA's data series goes back to mid-2011, but it has biannual extrapolated data, or historical estimates, that put the MCAI at the highest since the second half of 2007.
The unemployment rate was 3.7% in June, rising from 3.6% in May that was the lowest level in almost 50 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Debt-to-income ratios, known as DTIs, for mortgage borrowers in June matched the prior three months that were the best since mid-2017. Ratios tend to improve as mortgage rates go down, because cheaper financing translates into lower monthly mortgage payments. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.75% this week, near a three-year low, Freddie Mac said on Thursday.
The average “front end” ratio measuring a borrower's income compared to the new monthly mortgage payment was 25%, meaning a quarter of borrowers’ income was going to toward paying their home loans. The average “back end” ratio, measuring all recurring monthly debt including mortgage bills, stood at 38%.
Courtesy of HousingWire newsletter.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Amazon and Realogy gang up on Zillow to entice homebuyers

It's a battle of the titans, and yes, Alexa has a role.  

You buy toilet paper, computers and paper towels through the Amazon website. Now, you can buy your next house. The world’s largest retailer is partnering with Realogy, the largest U.S. residential brokerage, to match homebuyers with real estate agents through a program called TurnKey
Potential buyers will be able to go through their Amazon account, click on TurnKey, put in details about the size, price and location of the home they want to buy, and then be matched with one of Realogy’s agents. In return, customers get up to $5,000 of Amazon products and assistance called a “Move-In Benefit,” which includes help with chores and product installation through a division of the retailer called Amazon Home Services.
And, yes, Alexa – with her calming voice – has a role in the battle of the titans. Customers can use their credits to set up a smart home run by the virtual assistant. The offered products also include things like Ring doorbells or flat-screen TVs, which can then be installed by Amazon professionals.
"Customers can be overwhelmed when moving, and we're excited to be working with Realogy to offer homebuyers a simplified way to settle into a new home," said Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon’s services division, said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "The Amazon Move-In Benefit will enable homebuyers to adapt the offering to their needs – from help assembling furniture, to assisting with smart home device set-up, to a deep clean, and more."
The two giants – retailer and real estate brokerage – are ganging up on Zillow and its Premier Agent program that matches potential buyer to agents who pay a fee to the company. That program generated about $898 million in revenue for Zillow last year, according to regulatory filings.
Realogy is the owner of NRT, the nation’s largest brokerage measured by two key metrics: the total dollar volume of transactions and the number of real estate agents. In addition to NRT, Realogy brands include Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Corcoran, ERA, Sotheby's International Realty.
"Realogy and our brands are always looking for ways to give consumers an awesome home buying experience with a terrific real estate agent, and today's launch of TurnKey is a big part of that continued strategy," said Ryan Schneider, Realogy's CEO.
The TurnKey service now is available in 15 markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles.
The Amazon credit for products and services ranges from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the price of the home. Homes purchased for between $150,000 to $399,000 will get a $1,000 benefit, transactions between $400,000 and $699,000 will receive a $2,500 Amazon credit, and buyers of properties priced over $700,000 will receive a $5,000 benefit, according to the TurnKey page.
Courtesy HousingWire newsletter.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fairplay World Championship Pack Burro Race won’t reach Mosquito Pass for first time ever due to snow drifts

#Fairplay #Colorado
Courtesy Denver Post

Days away from August, this winter and spring’s snowfall is still affecting outdoors events in the High Country. Sunday’s 71st annual World Championship Pack Burro Race will not reach Mosquito Pass for the first time since the race, which pairs a human with a donkey, has run its course from historic South Park in Fairplay up to the 13,185-foot Mosquito Pass, and back.
“The snow is still too deep,” town of Fairplay special events coordinator Julie Bullock said Wednesday evening.
Bullock said snow drifts up near the top of the pass, near 13,000 feet, remained as high as 13 feet late last week. Bullock explained that the town of Fairplay worked diligently, with the help of volunteers, in recent weeks and months to clear out the copious avalanche debris that remained on and near the traditional 29-mile course over rugged terrain. Though the crew was successful in removing the avalanche debris, Bullock said there’s a roughly 2-mile stretch leading up to the pass on a narrow mountain road that has proven too difficult to clear well enough to safely put human racers, and especially donkey racers, out on any cleared stretch in the snow. 
Though the race has been hosted since 1949, Bullock said this specific route up to the pass has been used since 1973.
“This is actually the first time ever that we’ve not been able to get to the top of the pass,” she said. “We’ve had to shovel to get to the top of the pass before, but it wasn’t that high.” 
Bullock said the route change effectively means racers and their donkeys, or burros, will go directly up Mosquito Pass instead of being able to take the usual route up Forest Road 696 through terrain known as American Flats. Once traversing across American Flats, Bullock said the race traditionally follows a narrow, single-track road known as The Shelf Road, which takes racers up to the top of Mosquito Pass.
The alternate route will shorten the long course race by roughly 4 miles, but the 15-mile short course race will be unaffected.
“It was thought we might be able to get to as far as we could into the drift,” Bullock said, “but it’s a single-track road, and we just can’t get all the burros out. Burros are used to running together with their stall mates.”
Bullock said this year’s turnaround point will be at just over 12,000 feet, shortening the long course race’s elevation gain by about 1,000 feet.
“The biggest drifts seem to be right before they would cross American Flats,” Bullock said. “And they can’t get onto it, near the South London Mine. It’s just too much to be able to deal with — even bulldozers. It’s just too much, too heavy. It is melting every day, but we are getting a lot of moisture over here, and it seems like the rain is making it worse.”
The long course course change aside, Bullock said this weekend’s Burro Days celebration will be much the same as previous years, featuring 150 vendors including arts and crafts and food, as well as an airstream open house following Sunday’s 11:30 a.m. parade.
The weekend’s races will include an 11 a.m. llama race on Saturday. Sunday’s short and long course burro races on Front Street commence at 10:30 a.m. The annual outhouse races will begin at 1 p.m., also on Front Street on Sunday.
New this year will be a Bayou Salado Rendevous, which will run 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday across the river at 200 Platte Drive. The Rendevous, which used to be part of the Burro Days weekend years ago, will feature a pre-1840 primitive camp paying homage to Fairplay and the High Country’s mining and mountain history.
“Everybody is in costume,” Bullock said, “in camps, a black powder chute, the ladies fry pan toss.”
This weekend will also be the second consecutive year the event will host its Burro Days Museum on the Courthouse Lawn at Main and Fifth streets.
“Every year we are trying to gather more and more items,” Bullock said. “We received a grant from the South Park National Heritage area to preserve and protect some of the pieces in the museum, and we will continue to do it every year, to build on it.”
The annual Burro Days races are hosted in conjunction with the Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation, the organization that puts the rules and regulations together for several burro races each summer in the High County. Those races include the annual “Triple Crown of Burro Racing,” three consecutive weekends of races in Fairplay, Leadville and Buena Vista. The Triple Crown will continue in August with the 71st annual Boom Days Pack Burro Race, a 21-mile race, hosted in Leadville on Sunday, Aug. 4 followed by the 46th annual Buena Vista Gold Rush Days Pack Burro Race, a 13-mile race, on Sunday, Aug. 11.
Last year, Kirk Courkamp of Pine and his burro Mary Margaret won the Triple Crown by winning all three races in the series.
Courtesy Summit Daily

Thursday, July 25, 2019

$73,000 in net annual rental income!

#Breckenridge #Colorado

Yes, that's right - $73,000 in net annual rental income.

116 Woods Drive in Breckenridge is for sale.  4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 2,800 sq. ft.

This luxurious and beautifully designed, meticulously maintained town home is nestled among the pine and aspen trees in the seculded Woods neighborhood.  It is the perfect setting to embrace the Breckenridge Resort Lifestyle and bring home some rental income.

Short walk to the BreckConnect Gondola and downtown.  Ski home via the Skyway Skiway ski run.  Modern open floor plan with a Chef's kitchen, dining and great room allows for elegant entertaining.  Slab granite and hith-end finishes throughout.

List price:$2,380,000

Contact me today for more information:  970-485-0293 or

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Summit County set to begin clear-cutting in Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space as part of wildfire mitigation project

#Frisco #Colorado
Summit County Government

Summit County is set to begin a major fuels reduction project in the Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space next week, a move officials believe will help to improve forest health and mitigate wildfire risk in the area.
Just over a year after the Buffalo Mountain Fire spurred evacuations of more than 1,600 individuals in the neighborhood, the county identified mitigation work on the parcel as one of its highest priorities following the passage of Ballot Initiative 1A in November.
“When Summit County voters passed 1A funding, which allocated about $1 million a year for hazardous fuel reduction projects of various types, that gave the open space department an opportunity to start doing fuel reduction and fire-breaks on our own properties,” said Michael Wurzel, resource specialist with Summit County Open Space and Trails. “So we immediately did a prioritization of efforts, and as one would assume, the Wildernest-Mesa Cortina Open Space came out as a high priority for fuel reductions.
The project will take place on county owned property south of Royal Buffalo Drive in the Wildernest neighborhood. Of the roughly 90 acres of open space on the property, Wurzel said about 30 acres are forestland — as opposed to riparian or wetlands — and marked for mitigation. The project will be completed in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service and contracted through Willowcreek Timber Services. It is set to begin July 29.  
The project has two main goals: maintaining a healthy and diverse forest, and limiting the wildfire risk. Wurzel said mitigation work has taken place in this area before, though it was always restrained to sections where machines could get in due to budgetary constraints. With the additional funding provided by the 1A initiative, now called the Summit County Strong Future Fund, the open space department has more flexibility to dive deeper into areas with less accessible terrain by hiring crews to complete a majority of the work by hand.
“After the bark beetles came through years ago, the main treatment for forest regeneration has been clear-cutting the areas of dead and dying trees and starting over,” Wurzel said. “Because the area has steep slopes and difficult access, some of that work hasn’t happened. There’s still a lot of dead and dying timber in that open space. So what this project will do is get that timber on the ground into a pile, and get it burned and allow the forest to regenerate.”
The Colorado State Forest Service has already swept through the area and strategically identified which trees should be cut down or removed to improve growing conditions and reduce tree densities. Additionally, officials are hoping that by removing some timber in the area, they can help to reinvigorate existing aspen groves.
In regard to wildfire mitigation, on top of removing dead and dying trees, crews will utilize a thin-from-below strategy removing smaller “ladder” fuels to heighten the canopy.
“By removing ladder fuels, we hope that we’re increasing the canopy height and limiting the opportunity for a fire to transition from a surface fire to a crown fire,” Wurzel said. “So we’re working on reducing that overall fuel load and hoping if there was a fire it would stay on the ground.”
Because of the steep slopes, it will be difficult to remove some of the fuels, meaning any slash that can’t be removed will be piled and burned in the future, likely this fall or winter, when conditions are favorable.
The project is expected to cost about $100,000 for the felling of the trees, on top of other costs, and represents the first major mitigation endeavor funded by the Strong Future money. The work is expected to be complete by mid-September. Of note, there will be trail closures in areas with ongoing mitigation work. Closures will be noted on the county’s Facebook page or on the special projects page of the county’s website.
Wurzel noted that projects similar in size and scope are already being planned for the next few years, focusing on the county’s wildland urban interface to ensure the biggest positive impacts to public safety.
“One of the things we’re looking at is where these projects are going to be most effective,” Wurzel said. “… We own a lot of property in deep backcountry spots. It doesn’t do much for community protection to do mitigation work on a small parcel in the backcountry, so we’re focused on the projects in the wildland urban interface, where doing fuels reduction does really have that community safety benefit to it.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Vail Resorts to add 17 new ski areas to Epic Pass with acquisition of Peak Resorts

#Vail Resorts
Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts on Monday announced it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding stock of Peak Resorts, Inc. at a purchase price of $11 per share, subject to certain conditions, including regulatory review and Peak Resorts’ shareholder approval.
Through the acquisition, Vail Resorts will add 17 U.S. ski areas to its network of world-class resorts. Located near major metropolitan areas, including New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Columbus, St. Louis, Kansas City and Louisville, the resorts include:
  • Mount Snow in Vermont
  • Hunter Mountain in New York
  • Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain and Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire
  • Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop Mountain Resort, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
  • Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River Mountain in Ohio
  • Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri
  • Paoli Peaks in Indiana
“We are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to add such a powerful network of ski areas to our company,” said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ chairman and CEO, in a news relsease. “Peak Resorts’ ski areas in the Northeast are a perfect complement to our existing resorts and together will provide a very compelling offering to our guests in New York and Boston. With this acquisition, we are also able to make a much stronger connection to guests in critical cities in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest and build on the success we have already seen with our strategy in Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit. The acquisition fully embodies our philosophy of Epic for Everyone, making skiing and riding more accessible to guests across the U.S. and around the world.”
The ski areas within the Peak Resorts portfolio exemplify the spirit of our sport as well as our Company’s mission to provide an Experience of a Lifetime to guests,” Katz continued. “We’re thrilled to welcome the resorts and their employees into the Vail Resorts family and invest in their continued success.”
“Vail Resorts has a proven track record of celebrating the unique identity of its resorts, while continually investing in the guest and employee experience. For this reason, we are confident that our resorts and employees will continue to thrive within the Vail Resorts network,” said Timothy Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Peak Resorts. “We are very proud of our track record over the last two decades in building the breadth, quality and accessibility of our resorts. We are thrilled that our guests will now have access to some of the world’s most renowned resorts.”
When the transaction closes, the 2019-20 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass and Military Epic Pass will include unlimited and unrestricted access to the 17 Peak Resorts ski areas. Guests with an Epic Day Pass will also be able to access the new ski areas as a part of the total number of days purchased. For the 2019-20 season, Vail Resorts will honor and continue to sell all Peak Resorts pass products, and Peak Resorts’ pass holders will have the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, following closing of the transaction.

Additional transaction details

The aggregate purchase price for all Peak Resorts common stock is estimated to be approximately $264 million (calculated on a treasury method basis), which Vail Resorts intends to finance through a combination of cash on hand, its existing revolver facility and an expansion of its existing credit facility. In addition, Vail Resorts will be assuming or refinancing Peak Resorts’ outstanding debt.
The acquisition is expected to generate incremental annual EBITDA of approximately $60 million in Vail Resorts’ fiscal year ending July 31, 2021, the first fiscal year with the full benefit of the synergies of the acquisition, with additional revenue upside in future years. Synergies are expected to come from additional revenue across the Vail Resorts network of resorts and cost reductions from the elimination of certain duplicative administrative functions and greater efficiencies brought by Vail Resorts’ size and scale. Vail Resorts’ annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase by $10 million to support the addition of the Peak Resorts ski areas. After closing of the transaction, Vail Resorts plans to invest approximately $15 million over the next two years in one-time capital spending to elevate the guest experience at these resorts.
The transaction was approved by both companies’ boards of directors, and the Peak Resorts board of directors also recommends that Peak Resorts’ shareholders approve the transaction.
The transaction is expected to close this fall. The parties expect operations at all Peak Resorts ski areas to continue in the ordinary course of business. Upon closing, Vail Resorts plans to retain the vast majority of each resort’s employees.