JUST ADD SNOW…SKI SEASON KICKS OFF

By Caitlin Switzer

REGIONAL (December 5)—With blue skies and mild temperatures, outdoor recreation enthusiasts have enjoyed a wealth of opportunities in recent weeks. Now, many are looking ahead to winter with one thought…snow!

With Crested Butte Mountain Resort opening Nov. 21, Telluride Ski Resort opening Nov. 22, and Powderhorn Mountain Resort scheduled to open Dec. 13, there will be plenty of local options for skiers and snowboarders once the snow does start to fall.

A skier hits the slopes at Telluride in a photo from the resort’s Facebook page.

“World Cup is right around the corner (Dec. 11-15), with the skier and boarder cross,” said Tom Watkinson of Telluride Ski Resort. “It’s an awesome spectator sport, and we are the only U.S. stop for both events. We hope to see a lot of regional visitors come out.”

If you do go, expect plenty of action.

“With six people on the course at once, jockeying for position, a lot can happen—and it happens quickly,” Watkinson said. “It’s a very cool sport.”

Although more natural precipitation is always welcome, Telluride has added five new high-efficiency snowmaking guns to their already considerable arsenal of ten.  The snow guns were purchased with grant funding from the National Ski Area Association’s (NSAA) Sustainable Slopes Program.

“We’ve got new groomers too,” Watkinson said. “It may not be super sexy, but these things add to the experience.”

Also adding to the experience are the new slopeside Tomboy Tavern in Mountain Village and two new warming hut yurts and restrooms at the top of Sunshine Express (Lift 10) and the bottom of Ute Park (Lift 11).

“It feels good just to be out making turns,” Watkinson said. ‘We’re just getting warmed up—there’s a lot of winter in front of us.”

At Crested Butte Mountain Resort, the season is off to a strong start, said PR and Communications Manager Erica Reiter.

“We had a great opening day, and it’s nice to be getting ramped up,” she said. “We are getting our new bag jump Dec. 20—it’s a 50 by 50 by 11 foot bag of air. We will have tubing into it, and our teams can practice doing tricks where it is nice and safe—and exhilarating.”

Along with the traditional holiday festivities—sleigh rides with Santa, a torchlight parade, gingerbread house competition and “Rock on Ice” professional  ice carver event (Dec. 15-20)—Crested Butte is excited to host the second annual songwriters festival over Dr. Martin Luther King weekend  in January, Reiter said.

“We will have the top songwriters in the country here,” she said. “These are the faces behind the pop musicians. The setting is intimate—the events will take place in local bars and at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. Dean Dillon, who writes songs for George Strait, will be here, and Robert Earle Keen will be here too.”

Special packages for the three-day weekend will be available, she said.

Perhaps the most exciting event of all takes place on Dec. 15, however, when Allegiant Air begins direct, bi-weekly service between Montrose, Phoenix and Oakland—a program for which Crested Butte Mountain Resort has pledged its support.

“We are excited to have helped bring them here,” Reiter said. “Come one, come all!”