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January 12, 2011

The Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek

I don't piss my pants often (well at least not since I turned 27). In the last 8+ years of 20-30 ski days per year, two places have literally turned my stomach and ended with me questioning whether I was going to live after taking a run.

The Talons Challenge includes 13 gut wrenching Black and Double Black runs at Beaver Creek, one of which induced a near meltdown, urine incident in my ski pants, and possibly some tears.

For the 8th year, Talons Challenge will be showcasing the best steeps Beaver Creek has to offer. Over 24,000 vertical feet of Black Diamond and Double Black Diamond runs await on Beaver Creek’s legendary World Cup Birds of Prey downhill course, Grouse Mountain, and in Larkspur Bowl. Conquer all 13 runs and earn your spot on the Talon's Wall-of-Fame.

The event is limited to the first 1,500 registrants. Last year's registration sold out, so register early to make sure you secure your spot on February 26th!

Included in your registration fee are a free Bratwurst and either a Bud Light or a non-alcoholic beverage. All finishers will receive a Talons Challenge cap and a commemorative Talons pin.

A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to SOS Outreach. SOS Outreach provides 5,500 kids with an adventure based youth development curriculum. More information is available at www.sosoutreach.org. Come out for a great day on the mountain and help make a difference in the lives of youth.

I skied Osprey about three years ago and it was like looking off of a vertical stack of 60's VW's stacked 2000 feet high. I thought there is no effing way I am gonna make it down this damned thing. You take it turn by turn, develop a rhythm, and get to the bottom, look back, and the lift line runs almost vertical.

Plus side--you don't have to hike to scare the hell out of yourself. The other place where I sat down (partially from altitude sickness and partially because I am a big fat wuss) was the top of Alberta Peak at Wolf Creek.

This sounds incredibly fun and certainly challenging.

Posted by Justin at 03:02 PM

September 16, 2010

How Much Personal Information is Too Much

This is a must read on Vail's new RFID and social media strategy. I have known the inventor of Ski Pass Defender which blocks the RFID chips for several years. This is Big Brother and then some. They know when you've been sleeping and know when you're awake. The revenue streams have dried up and once they are linked to you, who knows where they will sell the information. Facebook already has some pretty reprehensible data protection policies, so you are opening your ski experience to the world.

On August 30th, 2010 Vail Resorts announced EpicMix. This feature which comes included in all RFID enabled passes will link you with your virtual persona. This shall collect data and store it in Vail’s servers, soon to be a server farm I imagine. With the acceptance and adoption of Social Gaming (Farmville, Bejeweled), and the advent of Geolocation/Geotagging offerings such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, Vail Resorts has developed a fantastic integrated product. One which will be compelling to use. It shall be social networking “candy” to the active person. Skiers and riders shall be advertising their accomplishments, while Vail gets to advertise across social media platforms. The guest shall be able to register themselves with the click of an “Allow” button.

Vail Resorts has come with a tour de force of social media, skier/rider statistics, friend logistics/locations, etc within this platform. It has been a long time coming, but it is here and will be developed.


The features to the guest are vast:

* Automatically tracking data of vertical feet, days on the mountain
* Digital pins for special achievements
* Mobile phone integration
* Social Media platform integration
* Coordinating with friends on the slope
* Weather Reports & Traffic updates
* Integrated EpicMix website for adults and juniors
* Keeping track of lost children and members of a group

Vail Resorts has also created a phone app for iphone and Android phones. Are you ready for lunch special alerts being sent to your phone? Would you like to have alerts sent to you based on your ski terrain preferences? I have little doubt that these shall come too.

In short, it will be a fun product for many guests.

As for privacy concerns, Mr. Rob Katz (CEO Vail Resorts) said the information belongs to each individual and they don’t have to choose to share it via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Vail Resorts already knew when skiers and snowboarders were riding the mountain in previous seasons because that information is recorded when passes are scanned, he said.

As for my privacy concerns, there are MANY, but I will address just a few here.

1. Vail Resorts does know if you are riding on the mountain on a given day. But they did not know where you ski during the course of your day. There were scanners only on the base mountain lifts.
2. They know where you eat and what you eat (if you eat in a VR establishment and use your Resort charge). Now it can be easily linked
3. The information is your own…. And VRs as well!
4. With several scanners linked, speed of skier can be determined
5. Which secret tree run did you ski.
6. Where did an employee ski on their day off, and much did they ski or ride.
7. Playing hooky from work, or taking a break from your work day… if you are linked to Social Media. Everybody knows.
8. Autonomy on the mountain.
9. The more scanners placed around the mountain, the more you will be tracked.

The list goes on for me.

My personal concern--what if people see the dude that runs ski-blog.com is a total poseur who mostly skis "Bunny Run" and spends half days in the lodge? What if my work or my wife found out how many days I sneak out for a lap or two when I am "working" at the condo?

I like my privacy at least a little bit.

Posted by Justin at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

October 13, 2009

Antlers at Vail Offers Freebie Tips

Antlers at Vail has some good deals and great tips for the Vail area:

At the height of ski season, the Antlers at Vail hotel (www.antlersvail.com) offers its "Value Vail" package from January 9 to February 10, 2010 with 25% savings off regular prices. Rates for the five-night package start at just $235 per person for four people in a two-bedroom condo - including four-day lift tickets for all four skiers!

10 Freebies in Vail Valley this Winter

The Antlers at Vail hotel’s staff of savvy locals offers ten ideas for enjoying the snow scene – without opening your wallet once:

1. Free culture –– The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame features over 1500 pieces of memorabilia celebrating 130 years of Colorado skiing. Admission and 90 minute parking are free. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. http://www.skimuseum.net/index.html

2. Free concerts –The Street Beat Concert Series features rock, blues and gospel music every Wednesday night. Concerts start at 6 p.m. at Check Point Charlie in Vail Village.

3. Free transportation – the Vail Village shuttle runs throughout the village offering hop on, hop off convenience and easy access to the village’s numerous shops, restaurants and galleries.

4. Free light show – Thursday Night Lights at Beaver Creek features skiers with glow sticks traversing down the mountain, followed by a fireworks show.

5. Free parking – Guests at the Antlers at Vail hotel can park for free in the hotel’s heated parking garage. Other guest perks include free high-speed internet, free hot chocolate and coffee in the lobby, and free passes to the Vail Athletic Club.

6. Free ice skating - Nottingham Lake in nearby Avon is open to the public for ice skating seven days a week weather permitting. Skating is free, and skate rentals are available for a nominal fee.

7. Free gondola rides – Enjoy the mountain views, on-mountain dining and kids’ activities at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Starting mid-December and throughout the season, people on foot can ride the gondola for free from 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

8. Free ski & snowboard competitions – The Session, Mountain Dew Vertical Challenge, American Ski Classic, Malay Day, World Pond Skimming Championships and U.S. World Cup competitions are held throughout the season at Vail and Beaver Creek and are free.

9. Free entertainment – The Helmut Fricker Band performs throughout the season on the Plaza in Beaver Creek on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 12 to 2 p.m.

10. Free offers – Check the Eagle County web site (http://www.eaglecounty.us/airport/) for the latest deals; recent promotions have included free airline tickets for children traveling with parents and free arrival day lift tickets.

Expect more deals as resorts struggle to get people coming in the doors. This is high end lodging for a very reasonable price.

Posted by Justin at 11:49 AM

September 09, 2009

Vail Tries to Increase Non-Lift Ticket Revenue

Vail is trying to increase revenue by doing something shocking--CUTTING PRICES:

Vail Resorts will offer adult skiing lessons and value-priced lunches in an attempt to generate more non-lift-ticket revenue this year.

The Broomfield-based company, which operates five ski resorts in Colorado, also is holding pricing at 2008-09 levels for two of its ski passes and developing a gourmet-style hamburger for its on-mountain eateries, CEO Rob Katz said.

Non-ski revenue plummeted last year as visitors tended to pack lunches and eschew such extras as ski school. Between February and April, for example, ski-school revenue fell 21.3 percent from the same period in 2008 and on-mountain food and beverage transactions dipped by 15 percent at the five locations.

The changes for this year are aimed at giving people more incentive to spend money on ancillary activities at Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, Arapahoe Basin and Beaver Creek, Katz said.

“This is about value,” he said. “We want to give people a way to thoroughly enjoy our resort and everything we have to offer but spend less money than they might have thought.

I guess the revolutionary model tried by places like TGI Fridays and Applebees during Happy Hour might just work at a ski resort.

I am so sick of $8 burgers that taste like crap and $3 drinks. We throw 5-6 packs or Oreos in the pockets of our jackets and keep a bag of Peanut M&M's with us for a quick energy boost and at Brian Head, we eat at Pizano's or Bump and Grind because the food is cheaper and better.

Part of why we loved Brian Head when we bought there was because of the low prices of lessons and lift tickets and we have multiple kids that will be taking lessons over the last couple years and starting this season with Lindsey. Every $$$ counts.

Make it more affordable and we will keep your lift operators, instructors and cooks (that you import from Argentina) busy.

Posted by Justin at 05:58 PM | Comments (2)

April 23, 2009

Vail Skier Visits Down 6.2% Year over Year

Certainly not the most dire of news:

BROOMFIELD - Vail Resorts on Saturday reported some numbers from the beginning of the 2008-09 ski season through April 12. As expected, most of those numbers were down from last year's record season.

• Season-to-date total skier visits through April 12 for the company's five mountain resorts were down 6.2 percent compared with last year.

• Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue through April 12, including an allocated portion of season pass revenue for each applicable period, was down 8.7 percent compared with last year.

I was expecting 10-15% so this is good news. Next season may be the worst of it because today's unemployment numbers indicate no real end in sight to the recession.

Posted by Justin at 01:27 PM

April 20, 2009

Vail Resorts to Require Helmets for All Employees

Good for them:

Vail Resorts Inc. says it will require all on-duty employees and children 12 and under in ski-school lessons to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding next season.

Broomfield-based Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) operates the Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone and Beaver Creek winter resorts and Heavenly at Lake Tahoe, Nevada-California.

In a statement Monday, the company said its on-slope employees will be issued a helmet as part of their uniform.

In addition to children enrolled in group lessons, helmets will be a required part of the ski or snowboard rental packages for children 12 and under next season unless a parent signs a waiver.

Vail Resorts said it is imposing the helmet rules for safety reasons.

"We firmly believe when children are participating in our ski and ride school programs that we must provide them with the proper equipment that promotes enjoyment of the sport while also reducing the possibility of injury," Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division, said in a statement.

"Even though we will now require children in our ski and ride schools to wear helmets and make them a mandatory part of every child's rental package, we strongly recommend the use of helmets for all of our guests, regardless of their age or ability level," Carrig said.

And good for them. I won't let Jake, Jackson or Jarrett ski without a helmet. If you start wearing a helmet, you get used to it and it becomes a part of your equipment that you cannot go without. Mine is comfortable and warm, plus has built in earphones and a port for my Motorola radio.

Posted by Justin at 10:36 AM

April 03, 2009

Vail Resorts CEO on the Latest Ski Season

From the Denver Post:

KEYSTONE — Though the snow was good this season, the top executive at Vail Resorts Inc. had another way to describe the season when it comes to business: "awful."

Skier visits, overnight lodging occupancy and room rates have slid this year, prompting the industry to turn its thoughts to the future, seeking ways to regroup and win back travelers when the economy improves.

"I'm optimistic the season is almost over," Vail chief executive Rob Katz told ski-industry leaders Wednesday. "It's a joke on one level, but there is a truth to it."

He said the industry must reorganize, innovate and give guests more value.

"We are pointed in the right direction, but we can't rely on the success we had over the last five years," he said.

More than 900 ski-industry leaders are gathered in Keystone this week for the 2009 Mountain Travel Symposium.

Skier visits nationally are expected to be down for the 2008-09 season. Early estimates by Mountain Travel Research Program director Ralf Garrison are for between 54 million and 57 million skier visits, at least a 5 percent drop from the 2007-08 season record of 60.5 million.

Statewide estimates aren't yet available.

Garrison, Katz and Mike Shannon, founder of KSL Capital Partners, which owns the Vail Mountain Lodge and other resort properties, addressed a crowded room to discuss the state of destination mountain travel for next season.

"It's important for us not to be so narcissistic and think this is all about us," Katz told the attendees from ski resorts around the world. "This is one of those moments when we are caught up in a much bigger thing."

The latest report released by Garrison's MTRP showed the national average daily lodging rate was down 8.6 percent in February compared with the same period last year. And the total occupancy for the 2008-09 season is expected to be down 16.3 percent.

All things considered, drops of 5-10% are not catastrophic. Not good, but given how much unemployment has shot up, what has happened to home values, and the disaster of a stock market (that surprisingly has rebounded some), skiing is fairing better than I thought.

I was at Alta and heard a couple employees throwing the figure 10-12% around which sounds about right.

Posted by Justin at 07:36 PM

January 12, 2009

Ferry Resigns Over Front Range Riff-Raff Comments

Interesting Comments from Vail Chamber and Business Association Executive Director Kaye Ferry over the Epic Pass:

“They’re paying $2,500 a night for a room, and then they’re fearing for the lives of their grandkids when they go skiing over Christmas,” Ferry said of Vail’s traditionally upscale, destination clientele.

“Throughout the history of (Vail) we have appealed to exclusivity. The only people we let up there during Christmas are the ones with the big homes and their ski instructors. We had eliminated the Front Range riff-raff, and all of a sudden we’re selling a pass that’s to the masses.”

Well said...

Now find a new job, bitch:

Kaye Ferry, the outspoken and sometimes controversial executive director of the Vail Chamber and Business Association, has resigned in the wake of comments to Colorado Confidential last week in which she labeled Denver day skiers “Front Range riff-raff.”

Ferry denied making the comment, although she stood by her concerns about the potential parking, traffic and skier-safety impacts of Vail Resorts’ new $579 Epic Pass. The story was picked up by mainstream media such as the Denver Post and caused a flurry of negative comments on Web sites around the state. Colorado Confidential stands by the accuracy of Ferry’s quotes.

The Vail Town Council late last week collectively sent a letter to board members of the Vail Chamber suggesting Ferry be asked to resign. On Saturday, Susie Tjossem, executive director of the Vail-based Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum and Hall of Fame and also a Vail Chamber board member, sent a letter to town council members announcing Ferry’s resignation.

I guess my family of moderate means is riff-raff that your grandkids need to be scared of.

Posted by Justin at 03:25 PM

Vail Resorts Skier Visits Down 5%

From the Wall Street Journal:

The snow fell early and often at most of Vail Resorts Inc.'s properties, but the avalanche of the bad economic news still took its toll. The company on Friday said that skier visits and forward bookings have declined for the season to date.

Vail Resorts said that from the start of the season through Jan. 6, total skier visits to its five properties were off 5.8% compared with the same period a year ago, while lift-ticket revenue fell 7.5%. Bookings as of Dec. 31 are down 14.8% on a room-night basis.

While the company's shares tumbled sharply on the early morning news, they partially rebounded and some analysts said it appeared that bookings were holding up better than expected...

The drop in lift-ticket revenue was higher than that of visits largely due to more traffic from season-pass holders, according to Mr. Katz. Ancillary revenues -- that is, from dining, retail and rentals -- were off about the same as lift tickets. The ski school was off roughly 20%.

"We believe the greater decline in ski-school revenue was due to lower guest spending on certain higher-priced items during their trip, a trend that was matched in lower check averages at certain of our fine-dine restaurants," the executive said.

Looking ahead, Mr. Katz noted that booking trends have improved from the 23.3% decline reported early last month -- an indication that "many of our guests are booking closer in, which we saw evidence of in the recently concluded current-year holiday period."...

Separately, Aspen Skiing Co. said skier visits were down 8% during the two weeks that covered Christmas and New Year's Day, compared with last year. Company officials had projected that visits would fall between 5% and 15% over the holidays.

A spokesmen for Aspen Skiing said that the week of Dec. 21-27 was noticeably down compared with last year but Dec. 28 through Jan. 3 was as strong, if not stronger, than last year.

5-10% decrease in skier visits during this economic crisis when unemployment has gone from around 4.8% to 7+% in a year...

Count your blessings.

Posted by Justin at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)

January 08, 2009

Chairlift Catches Pants, Hillarity Ensues

A little humor for you from Vail:

Wardrobe malfunctions don't just happen to celebrities. A 48-year-old skier was left hanging upside down, half naked on a chair lift at the Blue Sky Basin at the Vail Ski Resort in Vail, Colorado. His pants and underwear were apparently caught in the ski lift, leaving him bare bottomed and exposed.

Fortunately, the man, who has not yet been named, was not hurt.

How Did It Happen? Vail Snow Job?

The Vail skier, being called the naked skier by online searchers was hanging upside down for approximately seven minutes, a Vail spokeswoman Liz Biebl said. (Associated Press) The Smoking Gun reports it was 15 minutes. He had fallen through a raised chair lift and his his pants got caught on the chair when he fell, according to FOX.

Specifics about how the man could have ended up hanging from the chair were not released by the Blue Sky Basin in Vail, Colorado. More details about how the Vail skier started his New Year as the naked skier, were reported by The Smoking Gun and the Vail Daily.

The chair was not lowered as it should have been and the Vail skier fell through the gap. A child who was with the man is shown seated in the chair lift, as the man dangles beneath the chair lift, suspended in place by his right ski.

Photo Fall Out

The photo of the so-called naked skier, who was really only half-naked, resulted in a suspended job for the photographer, Marty Odom. Odom was not working in a professional capacity when he shot the photos, although he is a professional photographer.

He was at the Blue Ski Basin in Vail, Colorado skiing and he took the now famous photos of the naked Vail skier with his own camera. His images of the upside down skier were published in the Vail Daily, and Odom's employer, SharpShooters claim the suspension is due to the non-compete clause he signed.

Odom was doing what any other trained photographer would do, get the shot. The man was being helped, although not yet down from the chair lift when the photos were shot. History and pop culture are filled with priceless photos taken by photographers in the right place at the right time.

Posted by Justin at 10:48 AM

December 12, 2008

Season Pass Deals - Vail Resorts Gets It

Vail sells "Epic Passes" with unlimited skiing at all VRI resorts and makes a killing:

The hue and cry over the unwashed rabble likely to snap up cheap ski passes and invade Vail this winter, clogging our roads and jamming our ski slopes and parking garages, has morphed into the “All the Love” ad campaign as quickly as you can say “economic downturn.”

And Vail Resorts, which bore the brunt of the controversy after the announcement of its unlimited, six-mountain, $579 Epic Pass last spring, revealed Tuesday it sold nearly 60,000 of the season passes, prompting accolades from some analysts who foresee a brutal year for the ski and tourism industries.

“Front Range riff-raff” comments from a former Vail business leader and concerns about parking on the part of some town officials seem like distance echoes from a different era – even though the debate occurred just seven short months ago...

In a conference call with investment analysts Tuesday, CEO Rob Katz said the company reaped about $32 million from the sale of just over 59,000 Epic Passes – good at Arapahoe Basin, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly (Calif.), Keystone and Vail ski areas.

Overall, Vail Resorts took in nearly $91 million from the sale of about 204,000 of all of its season pass products, including the discounted Colorado Pass. And there has been almost no discussion of parking problems, traffic woes or Front Range customers who tend to spend less than out-of-state destination visitors.

And they ski a lot more days too. It is a tough sell. Sell more passes for less money to people that will use more days and spend less on mountain versus leaving lifts idle and keeping the riff-raff out.

Every dollar counts, even if it is a smelly hippie dollar from some scruffy dude's wallet that he keeps in his van with his ski dog--Mutt.

And more of the folks at Vail will be US citizens thanks to changes to Visa rules:

ail Resorts, which annually requires 1,900 H-2B visas, hoped to benefit from a cultural ambassador programme used in other resort areas such as Disneyland after the nationwide cap of 66,000 H-2B visas for America was reached earlier in the year.

“The requirements for the visas are very specific, and USCIS wanted to make sure Vail Resorts’ program met the visa’s specifications,” said Kristin Williams, a spokeswoman for Vail Resorts.

“Immigration officials wanted more information about Vail Resort’s cultural exchange program before any more visas were issued.”

Under the programme, instructors are introduced as cultural exchange ambassadors and share their native languages and cultures with guests.

A provision allowing returning worker permit holders to be exempt from the cap expired this year, meaning that many international restaurant workers, ski instructors, lift operators and other mountain workers were unable to return this season.

This recession provides a real wake up call to the industry. Foreign workers at low wages combined with high dollar destination guests combined with high real estate sales profits has been the business plan for places like Vail. But when the economy slows, it is time to get back to the Riff Raff, the locals, the ski bums, and the basics. Prices come down. Folks that ski are more passionate about it. Profits are down for the industry (that didn't make a lot of profit anyway).

Looks like American Ski Co got out at the right time. The industry is getting shaken up.

Posted by Justin at 04:55 PM | Comments (1)

April 01, 2008

Opening Day, NBA Playoffs, and the End of the 2007-08 Ski Season

A little time to reflect on the last ski season. This year, I skied Beaver Creek for the first time, skied Wolf Creek for the first time in three years, and got my usual days in at Brian Head. I got in about half as many days this season as last--12 versus 25--but enjoyed it far more.

Couple great memories for me. First was
Jarrett skiing his first black diamond
. He isn't even in the same ballpark as Jake, but that is a function of being 7 versus 11. But he discovered a love for skiing this season and now looks forward to it. I am excited about this year and looking forward to going from having two skiing boys to having three kids that rip it up when Lindsey gets a couple years older.

Second was Jake and me going to Wolf Creek with Tim, Erich, and JP. It has been far too long since I took at trip to Wolf Creek and this trip magnified how Jake has improved from our last trip three years ago when he was a Wolf Pup. When we hiked Alberta Peak and he left me behind, I had a new sense of humility and some pride that all the time and money that I have spent on gear and passes and gas and hotels and condos has paid off. We have something that both boys enjoy and that helps us bond.

Finally, there was my trip to Beaver Creek. I have rarely enjoyed a ski day that much.

I am going to try to get one more weekend in before the season is over.

Posted by Justin at 02:46 PM

December 20, 2007

Running the Numbers

I use Beaver Creek as an example, but in reality I am referring to any major megaresort--you know, the ones that the ski magazines drool about. This is more an illustration of the pros and cons of major destination skiing at a high end resort (Vail, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breck, Keystone, Park City, Whistler, etc.) versus skiing at a smaller resort in the Rockies that costs half as much but also offers less. I am going to run down the resorts that I have skied and compare and contrast them:

Colorado - Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek, Loveland, and A-Basin
Arizona - Snowbowl, Sunrise
Montana - Red Lodge, Big Sky
Utah - Alta, Brian Head

What you find is that once you find a place that you really like, you tend to go there until you find a better deal, get bored, etc. So I am an Alta guy because I just like it so well because of the price, location, skiers only policy, snow quality, and experience that I never drive to the other resorts in the area. Now, I am probably going to have a tough time ever going to Vail because Beaver Creek is so awesome and I have yet to even scratch the surface of all that is there. I am not sure how to compare Beaver Creek to Vail to Keystone to Breck when you couldn't touch all the mountain on any of them in a week or solid skiing.

I am assuming that for folks with the Colorado Pass, they choose their resort based on snowfall numbers, location, or just plain familiarity. So since I haven't skied all the resorts, I leave it open for more comments and info. This is somewhat generic, but there are just too many resorts to know everything about. For the most part though, the mega resorts are that way for a reason--they have a lot to offer and all compare very favorably to the next tier or resorts.

In my mind, there are three categories of ski resorts. Megaresorts. Midsize resorts (and this is a broad category). And places that just plain blow. First, let's talk about the mega resorts. You are going to get a well developed base area, great restaurants, touristy bars, lots of high end shops, and a few high end hotels. Expect lots of folks that are crazy rich and have really nice stuff. Expect people in $1000 jackets riding $2000 worth of gear on groomers who look crazy pimped sipping lattes at the base area. Folks from the East Coast can't get this kind of snow or experience so expect most folks are destination skiers or locals that get really good pass deals or work at the resort. Lots of folks from Europe, etc. Just a different kind of guest. But folks don't come for just the base area. The mountains are massive, but you gotta have the skills to relly enjoy it. And the money to spend because it ain't cheap. EVEN WHEN YOU GET A GREAT DEAL.

The next category is the smaller Rocky Mountain resorts and most East coast resorts. Places like Wolf Creek or Bridger Bowl or Brian Head. Usually these resorts are smaller mountains and do not offer the same level of amenities as the big guys. Not as much vertical. Off the beaten path. Poor airport access. No development rights. Less snowfall. But far lower prices. So then it is a matter of what you are willing to sacrifice. All of these resorts are missing something and it is up to you to decide what you are willing to sacrifice. I am willing to sacrifice shopping, dining, amenities, and nightlife but not snow. I would rather ski powder at a small resort that offers nothing (i.e. Wolf Creek) than ski crap snow at a more developed resort.

I won't get into the third category of places that just plain suck, but they are out there. Usually they have a couple old doubles that some other resort took out 20 years ago.

Beaver Creek was the first place that I didn't have to worry about a sacrifice. I look at the things that I usually am willing to give up. First, I give up base area amenities. I like to stay in town where I can afford it anyway. Then I give up nightlife. Then I give up some of the massive areas and vertical. What I usually don't give up is snow.

I can't get over the $92 price tag. So now it really highlights how good the Colorado Pass is. Season pass at Key, Breck, A-basin, and then the free days at Vail and Beaver Creek. I am just hating that I don't live in Colorado. The Beav and the Colorado resorts are so affordable for locals due to VRI's passes. I can't help but sing their praises. If you want to ski these resorts, you just have to look for deals and I am able to ski Vail and the Beav for the same price as Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 09:40 AM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2007

BEST... DAY... EVER! - Beaver Creek, CO

I owe massive debts of gratitude to a couple friends... one that hooked me up with a condo for the night and the other that hooked me up with a half price lift ticket at Beaver Creek.

It has been probably three years since I skied something other than Brian Head when they were more than partially open and had good snow. I think that I forgot what real skiing is. I think in my little myopic world view, that skiing at a Brian Head is actually real skiing. It is family skiing. Taking cruisers with my kids and friends isn't the same as ACTUAL SKIING. The last real skiing moment that I had was Alberta at Wolf Creek.

Clay and I left Phoenix at 9:00 PM last night in the Avy. We had two things on the agenda--some IT work at Beaver Creek and a training class in Denver on Monday. If we left on Friday night and drove all night, I could squeeze in a day of skiing. But I would be crazy tired when we got in. Got into Beaver Creek at 9:30 AM and I was on the slopes by 10:30 AM.

I met Bermuda Bob on the second run I took. I was looking for something over off to the far left side of the mountain and ended up taking several laps on the Rose Bowl lift on Spider and Ripsaw and Web. We cut across on Harrier to the Grouse Mountain Lift.

I was a gaper. I couldn't get over it. 10 degrees. Crystal clear. Blue Skies. Fresh snow. Had to stop over and over just to admire the view. And then I got to the top of Osprey. We have all kinds of "play" black diamonds and an occasional fake double black. Sunrise calls some runs double blacks that are a joke. This was no joke. Almost 2,000 vertical feet of double black diamond goodness. One run that has double the vertical drop of the entire mountain at Brian Head. The resort just kept rising and rising. 4,000 vertical feet. It was the first time I rode a high speed quad since Alta two years ago. That is how sad and sheltered my life has been since we bought the condo and got season passes.

I have rarely felt truly humble. Bob humbled me. 60 year old man who just burned my quads and kept stopping and looking over his shoulders to make sure I was still there. And I was. He kept asking me which way we should go, but it is his mountain. He knows it. He skis it. So it was "where are we going, show me the way, I'll keep up".

I couldn't walk up the stairs to the condo and had to take the elevator. I can't even lay down because I am so worn out. BEST DAY EVER. It has been a while since I pushed myself at all. I may spend the rest of the year with the kids, but as of right now, I actually feel like a skier again. It just rocked. Beaver Creek rocks. (And so do Caroline and Daren who hooked me up today)

Posted by Justin at 06:16 PM | Comments (7)