October 30, 2017

  • Photo courtesy of Kathryn Robinson at CSCUSA.

    Photo courtesy of Kathryn Robinson at CSCUSA. Photo courtesy of Kathryn Robinson at CSCUSA.

    Last week, I stopped by A-Basin to log my first runs of the season. Most years, I admit, I’m not too excited about early season skiing. I’d rather ski late into the spring when more terrain is open and there’s tons of elbow room—and all that delightful soft spring snow. But I realized I’d never skied in October before. It seemed like a lark worth chasing.

    Sure enough, the experience was surreal. The parking lot was bone dry. No ice and snow, no mud or spring puddles. As I booted up, the scent of wood chips warmed in the sun made me think more of starting out on a summer hike than hitting the slopes. Weirdly, it just didn’t smell like skiing. At the base, I found small cadre of diehard skiers making laps on the Black Mountain Express chair. There were two runs to choose from, and I alternated left and right for a half-dozen laps.

    High above, East Wall scraped a blue sky, but it looked nothing like it does deep in winter. It was dusted in snow, but you could see the rocks and cliffbands usually covered in white. In the opposite direction, the view of Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide was a startling vista in hues of tan and brown. Bikers clad in Lycra and motorcyclists were still riding the pass.

    I saw skiers in tank tops and bikinis. Plenty of T-shirts and hoodies in the terrain park (that A-Basin can get a terrain park up and running before November 1 is, in and of itself, impressive). The day was sunny and warm. It felt like spring. Everybody was stoked. The common refrain on the chairlift was, “Can you believe we’re skiing in October?! This is crazy!” Most of the skiers and riders I ran into were Colorado locals. Folks from Summit County and the Front Range.

    Midweek in October at a ski area feels a little like Adult Swim at the local pool. I saw just two kids all afternoon. Maybe they were home schooled? Or maybe they were playing hooky, too. (I, for one, was playing hooky from work.) Not that I don’t love kids. I have three of them. But it was a decidedly different vibe. Like we were all sneaking in a ski day when we should have been at the grocery store buying candy corn and fake cobwebs to decorate our front decks. The day had a touch of the illicit.

    It wasn’t blower powder and it wasn’t chalky January snow on a steep high alpine cirque. But it was carving turns in snow—in October. And that’s one for the bucket list.

    When I got home, I told my kids I’d gone skiing. It was a giddy confession. They were mad. Envious. “You did not!”

    Yes, I did.

    Photo courtesy of Helen Olsson.

    Photo courtesy of Helen Olsson. Photo courtesy of Helen Olsson.

    Tips for Early Season Skiing

    • Go midweek if you can. You’ll have more room to wiggle (or wedel, as they say in Austria).
    • Don’t bring out your brand-new boards. Coverage is usually good, but it’s not unheard of to encounter a rock or two. If you have rock skis or an old snowboard, this is the time to use them.
    • Tune up those rock skis. Early season snow is primarily man-made, which can get a little slick in spots.
    • Wear thin socks. After wearing flip-flops all summer, your feet may feel a little pinched in ski boots. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it by December.
    • Enjoy the gorgeous fall weather and have fun!

    The post October Turns at Arapahoe Basin appeared first on Colorado Ski Country USA Blog.

October 26, 2017

  • Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.20.05 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-26 at 1.20.05 PM

    By R. Scott Rappold

    It’s that time of year. There’s a chill in the air, snow on the highest peaks and winter is so close you can almost touch it.

    But we still have a few weeks until most Colorado resorts open, so what’s the skiing addict to do?

    The answer, of course, is to watch a ski movie. Some call it “ski porn,” for the drool-inducing effect these movies can have on skiers. From groundbreaking films by director Warren Miller in the ’50s to goofball comedies of the ’80s to the current generation of directors pushing the envelope of intense backcountry skiing, these movies will have you out waxing your skis and making winter hotel reservations.

    Here are some of the best.

    Blizzard of AAHHHS

    Like the name suggests, this groundbreaking 1988 film still has the power to drop your jaw. Nobody had filmed anything like this before, with athletes dropping cliffs and shooting down dangerously narrow couloirs, long before most ski areas offered such terrain. It’s even more amazing when you consider that powder skis had yet to be invented.

    Steep and Deep

    Warren Miller directed more than 50 ski movies between 1950 and 2005, movies that mixed his passion for the ski bum life with a sense of humor about it all (especially people who don’t know how to get off the lift.) This 1985 film may be his magnum opus, more off-piste, out-of-bounds snow-riding and less campy humor, and it convinced a generation of young skiers to push what they ever thought was possible on snow.

    Aspen Extreme

    Two guys from Detroit take on Aspen – the mountain and the posh resort culture – in this 1993 movie. Half drama, half skiing, with plenty of drug-fueled mayhem and partial nudity, it’s as memorable for the snow scenes as much as the portrayal of the ski bum trying to make it in the world of the rich and famous. As they say in the movie, “Skiing is the easy part.”

    Hot Dog: The Movie

    The ’80s saw no shortage of cheesy ski comedies, but this one set the bar. A promising young skier arrives at Squaw Valley, falls in with the wrong crowd, angers the wrong people and falls for the wrong girl … well you get the picture. Other movies tried to repeat the formula (see “Better Off Dead” or  “Ski School”) but nobody matched it. With plenty of raunchiness to go around, this isn’t a movie for the kids.

    Downhill Racer

    This 1969 film stars Robert Redford as an aspiring Olympic skier and Gene Hackman  as his coach. Serious and thought-provoking, it’s more character study and less ski porn, with critic Roger Ebert calling it “the best movie ever made about sports—without really being about sports at all.” No list of ski movies is complete without it.

    Valhalla

    Colorado College graduate Nick Waggoner of Sweetgrass Productions has fuzed cinematic art with the ski film format, making visually stunning ski movies that often seem to be about much more than skiing. This 2013 film is his best, about a man in search of endless winter. There’s also a naked skiing scene that will make you appreciate outer clothing layers.

    Journey

    Warren Miller’s narration was always one of the thing that made his movies great. This 2003 film was his last (subsequent movies used soundbites from old movies until ditching the great director’s narration completely.) Sure, the terrain got gnarlier, the skis fatter and the HD sharper as the company he sold his name to continued to make films, but there will always be something missing without Miller.

    James Bond

    Mr. Bond has always been an excellent skier. You have to be when people are trying to kill you on the slopes. Here are some of the best Bond ski scenes.

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: One-and-done Bond George Lazenby set the bar high in the franchise’s first ski scene, with jumps and an avalanche.

    The Spy Who Loved Me: Roger Moore escapes a mountain chalet on skis and parachutes off a cliff. And who hasn’t wished for a ski pole with a dart gun in it?

    For Your Eyes Only: Bond doing an Olympic ski jump and a bobsled run? Oh yes, believe it.

    The post Classic Ski Movies to Build Your Winter Stoke appeared first on Colorado Ski Country USA Blog.

  • Mary Jane's Opening day at Winter Park. Photo by Carl Frey.

    Mary Jane's Opening day at Winter Park. Photo by Carl Frey. Mary Jane’s Opening day at Winter Park. Photo by Carl Frey.

    Fitting in an early season ski trip can be incredibly gratifying. Getting a quick start on the winter, and hitting the snow with a purpose in December sets skiers up for a big winter, the kind of season that sees lots of time on the snow and big skill improvements.

    Skiing early, in November or December, does come with a couple of caveats, however. Not every resort has full coverage this time of the year—but there are ski resorts that have exemplary track records in this realm, and there is a throng of them in Colorado. These are the ski resorts whose historical snowfall rates and December open terrain rates that make them very strong candidates for an early season ski trip.

    Colorado, as a destination overall, has some characteristics that make it a very strong play for finding snow on early season and holiday ski trips in December. Among those things:

    • High elevations, relative to most of the rest of North America, which helps keep snow on the slopes cold and preserved.
    • Lower average snowfall standard deviations, which means Colorado’s snow tends to be dependable and not as prone to gaps or droughts (like that of California).
    • Strong snowmaking resources, compared with the rest of the West, thanks to a decades-long long commitment to getting terrain open early in the season.
    • Good amounts of blue and mellow terrain that faces north. Steeper expert terrain, of which Colorado possesses plenty, requires more snow to get open. Gentler blue runs, however, especially ones that face north, are usually the first runs of the season to open and the last runs of the season to close. It’s why Colorado has so many ski resorts that are great for beginners.
    • Great air service. Booking a last-minute ski trip can be tricky – but it’s far easier when there are great regional ski airports—Aspen has an especially good one—available with directs that are great for Texas skiers, Midwestern skiers, and even those coming all the way from the East Coast.

    Some of the Colorado ski resorts that are the best bests for early season ski trips, according to stats compiled by ZRankings, a ski trip booking site:

    Steamboat

    Steamboat collects snow in copious quantities during the early season. It has almost no rivals in North America, in fact, when it comes to dependable early season skiing. Steamboat has an average of 93% of its terrain open by Dec. 25, and only 5% of its winters are so dry that the ski resort is less than 50% open at the end of the December. Steamboat is simply outstanding in this way, and it should be toward the top of every skier’s list when it comes to planning holiday ski trips to Steamboat.

    Aspen Mountain

    Aspen is a classic holiday destination for skiers. Town comes alive with festivities and fanfare. To go along with its top-rated accommodations, Aspen at Christmas is an excellent destination for skiers seeking snow and open terrain. Aspen Mountain, the legacy resort that funnels right into the middle of town, averages having 80% of its terrain open by Dec. 25, a great ratio that traces to Aspen’s high elevations and its strategically-placed snowmaking.

    Winter Park

    Winter Park piles up more snow than any other ski resort in Summit County. It also benefits from a large portion of north-facing terrain that preserves snow and keeps it cold. Winter Park average having 77% of its terrain open by Dec. 25, a stellar mark. It’s one of the best bets for early season skiing—and it also tends to have smaller crowds than some other major resorts during the holiday season.  The resort has a knack for catering to families, making it one of the top ski resorts for families in all of North America.

    Early season at Wolf Creek.

    Early season at Wolf Creek. Early season at Wolf Creek.

    Wolf Creek

    As many skiers from the southwest (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico) know, Wolf Creek is a brilliant play during the early season. Data for Wolf Creek’s open rate during December isn’t readily available, but here’s what we know for sure: In the realm of traditional ski resorts, Wolf Creek receives more snow, on average, than any other mountain in Colorado. On top of that, 65% of Wolf Creek’s terrain faces north, which means the slopes here preserve snow at a highly efficient rate, especially during the early season, when the angle of the sun is at its most oblique point. Take all of these things together, and Wolf Creek is likely the best bet for good snow depths in Colorado during the last month of the year.

    Copper Mountain

    Copper is great spot for skiers seeking terrain open during the early season. Its location just off of I-70, one of the closer mainline resorts to Denver, makes it a strong play for skiers looking to get fresh tracks right off of the airplane. Copper has advantageous geographical and terrain characteristics that help it preserve most of the snow that hits its slopes after Nov. 1: it has a base elevation that, even for Colorado, is quite high—9,700 feet—and a full 55% of the mountain’s terrain faces north, which means the sun barely gets to it during November and December. This is the reason that Copper skis so well for spring break, and even beyond. It’s also why the mountain ranks No. 20 in North America for overall snow quality.

    Loveland

    We’d be remiss not to mention the ski resort that’s often the first open in all of North America every fall. Loveland is not known as a destination skier’s mountain, but it has great fall lines and wide swaths of high quality terrain among its 1,800 acres that, thanks to the mountain’s high elevation—the base is way up at 10,800—that get snow early and keep it on late. Loveland is a fantastic ski resort to remember when it comes to early season trips, and its location on top of I-70 makes it a convenient dovetail with trips to other ski resorts as well.

    The post Colorado Has Many Of The Best Ski Resorts For Early Season Ski Trips appeared first on Colorado Ski Country USA Blog.

October 25, 2017

  • Photo courtesy of Copper Mountain.

    Photo courtesy of Copper Mountain. Photo courtesy of Woodward Copper.

    • Free Intro and Drop-In Sessions at the Woodward Copper Barn
    • Meet & Greet with professional snowboarders Torstein Horgmo and Cam Fitzpatrick
    • Movie premieres include ShredBoots “R3BOOT,” Arbor Snowboards “Cosa Nostra,” and Faction Skis “This is Home”
    • Bowl Jam Expression Session with professional skateboarder Taylor Bingaman and the Satellite Boardshop Skate Team

    Experience everything the Woodward Copper Barn has to offer at the 2017 Woodward Barn Bash on Saturday, Nov. 11. Groups of friends and families are invited to bounce, skate and ride in the 19,400 square-foot facility with free sessions, live music, giveaways, movie premieres, and more.

    It all kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 11 with free Barn sessions beginning at noon offered on a first-come first-served basis. Intro Sessions are fully coached sessions designed for newcomers to The Barn, while Drop-In Sessions are open-gym style for those who have already completed an Intro Session.

    “This event is designed as a community open house that welcomes kids, parents and the young-at-heart into The Barn to check out what Woodward Copper is all about,” said Chris Stellato, Woodward Copper’s regional marketing supervisor.

    An exclusive Expression Session for skate participants will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the skate bowl with pro skater Taylor Bingaman and the Satellite Boardshop team.

    “If you’re a parent bringing the kids, stick around in the afternoon for live music from the Well Beings,” said Stellato. “Those who are coming later for the films are encouraged to come by around 5 to enjoy tunes from DJ Landry, as well as a cash bar and food.”

    The fun continues into the evening with an autograph signing featuring pro snowboarders Torstein Horgmo and Cam Fitzpatrick before the lights dim for premieres of some of the latest ski and snowboard films including ShredBoots “R3BOOT,” which includes footage from Woodward Copper terrain parks at Copper Mountain. Additional features include Arbor Snowboards “Cosa Nostra,” and Faction Skis “This is Home.”

    For more information on the Barn Bash and Woodward Copper, including winter programming on-snow and indoors, visit WoodwardCopper.com.

    The post Woodward Copper Barn Bash celebrates all things action sports on Nov. 11 appeared first on Colorado Ski Country USA Blog.

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October 30, 2017
Photo courtesy of Kathryn Robinson at CSCUSA. Last week, I stopped by A-Basin to log my first runs of the season. Most years, I admit, I’m not too excited about early season skiing. I’d rather ski la...
October 26, 2017
By R. Scott Rappold It’s that time of year. There’s a chill in the air, snow on the highest peaks and winter is so close you can almost touch it. But we still have a few weeks until most...
October 26, 2017
Mary Jane’s Opening day at Winter Park. Photo by Carl Frey. Fitting in an early season ski trip can be incredibly gratifying. Getting a quick start on the winter, and hitting the snow with a pu...