With plenty of snow, spend the holidays on the slopes

Forget the lousy economy. The biggest question we’re facing, other than whatever happened to the sad-sack Broncos, is “Whatcha doin’ for Christmas?”

And if you’ve been paying attention to the recent snow reports, the answer should be, “Why, skiing, of course.”

In some places, mostly across that part of the state bordering and north of Interstate 70, the snowfall has been little short of amazing, thanks to our favorite winter girl, La Ni&#241a.

Steamboat Ski Resort, to the surprise of few, leads the state with more than 122 inches of snow, including 7 inches of new earlier this week and more on the way.

But the ‘Boat is not the only place that’s rocking.

The resorts along the I-70 corridor (A-Basin, Loveland, Keystone, Copper and Breckenridge) are reporting one of the snowiest Novembers in a decade and that trend is continuing into December.

Keystone has a 48-inch base (all these depths were as of Wednesday) and has opened more than 2,700 acres of skiable terrain, which means even the busiest holiday crowds will be spread out over the mountain.

Copper claims a 44-inch base and Breckenridge says it’s at 51 with 130 inches of snow this year.

South of I-70, the story again is typical La Ni&#241a, only this time showing her not-so-generous side.

There’s still plenty of snow to enjoy, just not in record amounts like north of the I-70 border.

Aspen has a 23-inch base, Snowmass 19, Monarch 28 and Crested Butte 31.

Telluride is phoning in with a 28-inch base, even though the resort skis like it has more snow than that.

“The skiing is pretty good but we’re still waiting for that one big holiday snowfall that really gets everyone excited,” said Tom Watkinson, public relations manager for Telluride Ski Resort.

Even though other resorts might have more snow, Telluride might be your best bet for skiing on Christmas Day, thanks to a confluence of the calendar and airline schedules.

Christmas traditionally (at least, in my traditions) is a good day to ski because holiday crowds are late starters, preferring instead to stay home and open presents.

Which gives you most of the day to enjoy the skiing.

Once the lift lines start filling, you’re already high on the mountain, away from the base area.

Or, if you’ve been skiing hard, you’re ready to head down, enjoy a hot chocolate and think about Christmas dinner.

Also, this year Christmas falls on a Saturday, which is turnover day in Telluride.

Telluride largely is a destination resort, unlike the day-trip areas along the Front Range and I-70, which see heavy crowds every day of the holiday season.

When Saturday rolls around at Telluride, one week’s worth of guests is at the airport getting ready to fly out while another week’s worth is just flying in.

While they stand in line for the security check or to pick up their bags, you’re busy buckling your boots.

So this year, you’ll not only have the usual Christmas morning lull but also only the local skiers (which means as far as Montrose and Grand Junction) for company.

“Christmas Day and the day after might be a great weekend for regional skiers,” Watkinson said. “Usually the Sunday after Christmas is a phenomenal day to get out on the hill.”

While everyone else is heading for the airport, you’ll be on Chair 5, scheming your day on the snow.

Sweet.

You can get an early taste of Telluride during the holidays during the VISA U.S. Snowboardcross Cup from Wednesday through Saturday.

The event, which features Snowboard Cross and Parallel Giant Slalom, is expected to attract a list of top snowboard athletes, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott, three-time X Games gold medalist Lindsey Jacobellis and six-time X Games gold medalist Nate Holland.

This is Telluride’s second World Cup event, and last year’s still is remembered as one of the best.

The resort’s efforts won it “Rookie of the Year” on the World Cup tour, Watkinson said.

“We’d never done a World Cup before and we decided to do it the way we thought it should be done,” Watkinson said. “People were blown away.”

Race schedules and other information is available at http://www.tellurideskiresort.com.


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