Vail Resorts create new programs for women

Despite making up over half the population of the United States, women only make up 40 percent of alpine skiers and only 32 percent of snowboarders according to participation data from SnowSports Industries America (SIA).

Vail Resorts, the world’s leading mountain resort operator, announced a new company initiative to increase women’s participation in skiing and snowboarding.  Vail Resorts created a number of new programs and products, available for the 2014-15 winter ski and ride season.

  • Vail Resorts’ Ski & Ride Schools will offer the Women’s Ultimate 4, a lesson for women where they can join fellow women and a female coach to learn or brush up on skiing in a small-group setting, from the foundation-building basics of a “first-timer” class (open to all), to navigating the easiest greens, to sharing tactics and camaraderie on mountain green and blue runs. Women’s Ultimate 4 lessons will be offered at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, Park City and Canyons in Utah, and Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe.
  • Select resort Ski & Ride Schools will also offer four-hour lessons for women, providing ample time for the drop-off and pick-up times of their kids’ lessons, as well as “Mommy & Me” lessons, where instructors spend time with the mother and the child, reviewing what the child is working on and providing tips on how to continue to develop the child’s skills.
  • The comments also spurred Vail Resorts to create Prima, a personalized concierge service to assist with every aspect of the vacation experience for the company’s most loyal Brazilian guests of Vail and Beaver Creek.

10 reasons Breckenridge is one of best ski resorts

The changing leaves and colder temperatures can only mean one thing: Breckenridge Ski Resort’s opening is just around the corner.  With opening day set for Nov. 7, Breck is sharing the top ten reasons to get excited for the 2014-15 winter ski season at one of the most popular ski resorts in North America.

10. One of Colorado’s Best Ski Towns Breckenridge is world-renowned for its welcoming spirit and friendly locals.  With over 200 restaurants, bars, and shops and numerous year-round activities and events, Breck embodies more than just a destination; it inspires a way of life. And by the way, this 155-year-old historic hamlet and its famous Main Street are just steps from the ski resort – a location unmatched in the ski industry.

9. A New Colorado SuperChair. New this year, the Colorado SuperChair is getting an upgrade from a quad express to a six-passenger express to provide a 28 percent increase in capacity for Peak 8’s primary lift. This will help disperse skiers to the surrounding peaks and provide a faster route for skiers and riders traversing the resort.

8. This Season Marks 30 Years of Snowboarding at Breckenridge Ski Resort.  Beginning with the 1984-85 season, Breck became one of the first major ski resorts to allow snowboarding. This embrace of a wild new sport resulted in hosting one of the initial major snowboard competitions in the industry, one year later. Breck solidified its place at the very pinnacle of freestyle snowboarding and skiing with the addition of an Olympic-sized 22-foot superpipe, which anchors the resort’s award-winning Freeway Terrain Park. With four terrain parks creating a park progression system for beginners and intermediates, including the top-ranked Freeway Terrain Park and SuperPipe and the Park Lane Terrain Park, Breckenridge remains on the forefront of the industry.

7. World-renowned Ski SchoolThere are a variety of options for riders of all abilities at Breckenridge Ski and Ride School, including new camps this year. Private Lessons: The ultimate customized experience. Our pros will take up to six students and cater to the needs/wants of the participants.  A private lesson is a sure way to accelerate skills and progress with as much individual feedback as requested. Camps: This season guests can choose from four specialized camps: two women’s camps, Jan. 23-25 and Feb. 20-22, 2015; a ‘steeps’ camp, Feb. 27-Mar. 1, 2015; and the Kid’s Park and Pipe Camp, Feb. 20-22, 2015.

6. DoubleTree from A to Zzzz: A New All-Inclusive Package. Guests can enjoy the convenience of an all-inclusive resort from arrival to late night and receive lodging, food and drinks all for one low price when they book The Double Tree by Hilton Breckenridge’s All Inclusive Package. Grab a quick breakfast or lunch at the Made Market, enjoy house drinks, wine and draft beer for Après, or treat the family to a gourmet farm to table dinner at the 9600 Kitchen – all without having to get out your wallet!

5. Peak 6. Last season, Breckenridge Ski Resort added over 540 acres with its Peak 6 expansion just north of Peak 7. Peak 6 includes 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain, representing a 23 percent increase in resort’s skiable acres. Peak 6 features high-alpine, intermediate bowl skiing – a rare find in North America.

4. New on-mountain dining. The Peak 9 Restaurant will reopen as The Overlook with a renovated interior, including a new kitchen that will provide a warm, welcoming guest experience. In addition to The Overlook, the resort is introducing a mobile dining option, the Snowdrifter, which will change its location throughout the season.

3. Epic Pass. Breckenridge is part of the ski industry’s most valuable ski pass program. Vail Resorts offers multiple pass options for the 2014-15 season that include unlimited skiing or riding at Breck.

2. Exclusive special events. Breckenridge Ski Resort will feature signature events throughout the season – the Winter Dew Tour Championships, Dec. 11-14, 2014; the iconic Ullr Fest celebration of snow, Jan. 11-17, 2015; and the Spring Fever festival from March 21-April 19 (closing day). Returning Spring Fever Events include the Bud Light concert series (featuring acts such as Blues Traveler and The Dirty Heads in the past); the Throwback Throwdown snowboarding halfpipe competition with snowboarding legends (past and present); and the Breck Big Mountain Challenge.

1. Powder Days! Breckenridge received over 36 feet of snow during the 2013-14 season – including more January snow than any other U.S. resort – resulting in one of the longest ski seasons in its history.

Stay Connected
Visit Breckenridge.com for terrain updates, snow reports, lodging deals, event details and the lowest priced lift tickets guaranteed. Stay connected all season long and learn more about Breckenridge Ski Resort at www.facebook.com/Breckenridge watch official resort videos atwww.YouTube.com/Breckenridge, and follow @Breckenridgemtn on Instagram and Twitter

Vail Resorts offer Epic Pass discounts this Labor Day

Labor Day weekend in Colorado marks the official start of school and the unofficial start of ski season. Vail Resorts is celebrating this milestone with the last chance to purchase a 2014-15 season pass – including the Epic Local Pass – before prices go up on September 2, 2014.

“With unlimited, unrestricted access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, three of Colorado’s most iconic mountains, and with 10 holiday-restricted days at Vail and Beaver Creek, there is no better value in Colorado skiing or snowboarding,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts.

  • The Epic Local Pass™: Enjoy unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado, Afton Alps in Minnesota, and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Access also includes Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe, with limited restrictions. The Epic Local Pass also includes ten days at Vail and Beaver Creek, with holiday restrictions. At $549 for adults and $279 for children, the Epic Local Pass pays for itself in just under four days.
  • The Summit Value Pass™Unlimited skiing or riding at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin all winter for $469 for adults. This pass also includes limited restrictions at Breckenridge. The Summit Value Pass pays for itself in just under four days.
  • Keystone A-Basin Pass™: Unlimited skiing at Keystone and A-basin with limited holiday restrictions. This is the best deal for unlimited skiing in Colorado and, at just $289 for adults, pays for itself in just under three days.
  • The Epic Pass™: Unlimited skiing all winter for $729. Enjoy unlimited skiing or riding at 11 resorts including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.  No blackout days or restrictions apply.  Pass holders can also enjoy up to five consecutive free days each at Les 3 Vallées, France (Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle) and Verbier, Switzerland when booking in-resort lodging. New for winter 2014-15, Epic Pass purchasers will have access to five complimentary consecutive days at Niseko, Japan–known as one of the snowiest and most celebrated powder skiing resorts in the world.  The Epic Pass pays for itself in just over five days.

#Winter2014: Colorado skier visits surge to 12.6 million, a new record

During the past winter, Vail and other Colorado resorts welcomed more skiers and snowboarders than ever, thanks, in part, to disappointing snowfall at resorts in California. (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

During the past winter, Vail and other Colorado resorts welcomed more skiers and snowboarders than ever, at least in part due to disappointing snowfall at resorts in California. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

Colorado ski resorts broke a visitation record in 2013-14, thanks to an early start, a late finish, a drought in California and, of course, steady snowfall all season.

The state’s 25 ski areas logged 12.6 million visits, up 10 percent from last year — the strongest year-over-year surge in recent history and an 8 percent increase over the five-year average. The 2013-14 season is now the benchmark, unseating the 12.56 million high set in 2006-07.

“It’s been eight years and a Great Recession since the last new visitation record, and that feels great,” said Melanie Mills, president of resort trade group Colorado Ski County USA, which announced the season’s visitation at its 51st annual meeting at Copper Mountain.

Visitation was up across all categories, with the number of out-of-state skiers growing alongside international visitors and pass-wielding locals.

While California skiers have long ranked as a top market for Colorado resorts, the snow-gobbling drought there fueled a double-digit percentage increase in Californians on Colorado ski slopes this season.

Colorado resort leaders never wish a decimating season on their peers from other states, but there’s hope the 2013-14 season might turn some California skiers on to Colorado.

“We think that all those visitors that came to Colorado had a great experience,” Mills said, “and we think that gives us an opportunity to get them back.”

Colorado Ski Country’s 21 member resorts saw 7.1 million visits in 2013-14. Vail Resorts’ Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone ski areas drew 5.5 million visits.

Vail, the nation’s largest resort operator, last month reported solid growth in the 2013-14 season, despite poor performance at its California resorts, with visitor spending reaching near-records on increases in lessons, lift tickets, dining and retail.

Colorado’s ski communities reported strong spending during the season as well, with many resorts — like Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge and Telluride — posting record sales-tax revenues for the ski season.

Mills said member ski resorts enjoyed similar boosts in spending.

“A number of member resorts had a record year (for revenues), and everybody had a strong year,” she said. “It was the perfect snowstorm this year, with a snow message that started early and it was authentic … we just had snow every month.”

Monarch ski area saw a record 190,000 visits, up from 168,000 the previous year, spokesman Greg Ralph said. The Chaffee County hill harvested record revenues too, Ralph said.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s four Roaring Fork Valley ski areas posted the highest visitation since 1997-98, company spokesman Jeff Hanle said. Lodges in both Aspen and Snowmass saw highest-ever occupancy in March, with the season falling just shy of the all-time occupancy record set in 2006-07, said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, the reservation hub that books lodging across the valley.

“We had a really good start and an incredible finish,” Tomcich said.

Colorado’s skier visitation growth bested the 6.4 percent annual increase for the Rocky Mountain region, which includes resorts in Utah, Montana and New Mexico.

The snow was a blessing, and the international media’s sensationalized focus on Colorado when the state legalized recreational marijuana in January certainly helped.

Mills called legalized marijuana “the PR event of the year and the operational nonevent of the year,” meaning resorts barely noticed the new laws but welcomed the attention.

“From a PR perspective,” Mills said, “we did not view it as a negative that everyone was talking about Colorado as of January first.”

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jasonblevins

Winter carnival and Wyndham special in Steamboat Springs

Unlike much of the country, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has figured out a way to cope with cabin fever.

From Feb. 5-9, the great citizens of Steamboat Springs will welcome visitors for the annual Winter Carnival, unleashing such winter games as skiers jumping through fire and adults racing on shovels pulled behind horses.

And it doesn’t end there. There’s also the skiing high school band and the legendary Lighted Man who will race down the slopes wrapped in holiday lights and with roman candles shooting out of his backpack.

In celebration of this event and Steamboat’s more than 220 of snow, Wyndham Vacation Rentals is offering vacation rentals at an extra 15 percent off already reduced rates of up to 30 percent off.

Accommodations start below $200 per night and range from mountain view studios to luxurious six-bedroom ski-in/ski-out townhomes – all professionally managed by Wyndham Vacation Rentals.

And booking the Sparkling Savings deal automatically enters guests into a drawing to for a chance to win a ski vacation in 2015.

Wyndham Vacation Rentals’ Sparkling Savings offer is valid on bookings stays of two or more nights using promo code BUBBLY. Travel must be booked by Feb. 7 and completed by March 7.

ESPN’s X Games staying put in Aspen through 2019

Shaun White catches air during his first run in the men's snowboard superpipe finals at the 2013 Aspen X Games on Jan. 27, 2013. (Photo by Mahala Gaylord/The Denver Post)

Shaun White catches air during his first run in the men’s snowboard superpipe finals at the 2013 Aspen X Games on Jan. 27, 2013. (Photo by Mahala Gaylord/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

The X Games will remain in Aspen through 2019.

X Games owner ESPN and the Aspen Skiing Co. announced today a deal that would keep the winter carnival of now-Olympic athleticism at Aspen’s Buttermilk ski area for another five years. The X Games launches its 13th year in Aspen this week. By 2019, the Roaring Fork Valley will have hosted the iconic contest for 18 years.

“It’s amazing how X Games has seemingly become part of Aspen/Snowmass’ identity over the years,” said Aspen Skiing Co.’s John Rigney, who spent countless hours negotiating renewal contracts with ESPN in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013, in a statement released today. “There’s a rich cultural history here and we’re fortunate to host many world-class events, but I can’t think of a single event that resonates so well with kids and young adults as X Games does — and that’s a win for our resort, and more importantly the sports we love. Our community is proud to collaborate with ESPN and we look forward to five more great years together.”

Aspen beat out several other bidders to host the snowy bacchanal. Park City in Utah initially expressed interest but wanted the event to reschedule to April. Two Lake Tahoe ski areas in California — Squaw Valley and Heavenly — submitted a joint bid that would have separated X Games events into two venues across the lake. Whistler in British Columbia pondered hosting, but local officials demurred at the idea of flipping, racing snowmobiles, a lucrative staple of the X Games. Quebec City in Canada also submitted a bid.

But Aspen emerged as a clear favorite. The valley, populated with four ski resorts, provides an entire ski area — family-friendly Buttermilk — to ESPN for months as the network assembles the venue infrastructure and technical networks required for hosting the sprawling event. ESPN takes over an entire base-area hotel for several weeks while it prepares for the X Games and tears the venue down after the four-day, 200-athlete circus.

“For the last 13 years, Aspen/Snowmass has been a fantastic location for the Winter X Games and we’re excited about extending our stay in Aspen/Snowmass and continuing our great relationship with Aspen Skiing Company,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president, programming and X Games, in the statement. “While the level of interest from other locations was excellent, the opportunity to continue our collaboration with Aspen Skiing Company proved the most promising for long-term growth and development of the event.”

The X Games draws about 120,000 visitors every January to Aspen, swelling the valley’s lodges and hotels to capacity and mirroring the valley’s New Year’s Eve and Labor Day holidays.

While the network and privately-owned ski area don’t discuss the economic impact of the X Games, Aspen’s city sales tax reports reveal healthy bumps in lodging, restaurant and bar spending during the X Games. But the cash is only part of the benefit.

ESPN’s splays snowy Aspen into more than 260 million homes in 200 countries, a marketing boon that is hard to quantify for a ski company that thrives on powder-hunting visitors.

ESPN in October last year nixed a global expansion of the X Games into Spain, France, Germany and Brazil a mere 18 months after launching the international plan. The network in 2012 trumpeted three-year contracts with Barcelona, Munich and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil as well as continuing support for its European Winter X Games in Tignes, France. In October, the network killed those global events after only one event in each location.

The Summer X Games ended an 11-year run in Los Angeles last summer. The wildly popular summer contest will be held this June in Austin’s 1,500-acre Circuit of the Americas sports complex.

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jasontblevins

Breckenridge gets second freeski, snowboarding Olympic qualifier event

By Jason Blevens
The Denver Post

Breckenridge is getting a second round of Olympic qualifier freeskiing and snowboarding.

The third stop of the Olympic qualifying season for slopestyle and halfpipe skiers and snowboarders — from Jan. 8-12 — is moving from California’s Northstar ski area to Breckenridge, which hosted the first stop of the season with its Dew Tour.

“We were looking forward to competing at Northstar but unfortunately Mother Nature isn’t cooperating at the moment,” said Mike Jankowski, coach of the U.S. Olympic snowboarding and freeskiing teams. “So going back to Breckenridge is really the next best thing. Their pipe and park are world class and we love competing in Breck. So it will all work out.”

Northstar ski area has a base of 18 inches, with only 213 acres of its 3,170 acres open. Breckenridge has a 32-inch base, with 1,432 acres of its 2,358 acres open. Colorado had a strong early start to the season and cold temperatures in November enabled speedy park and pipe construction. Bringing the Jan. 6-12 Grand Prix event back to Breckenridge gives Colorado its third Olympic qualifying week with the world’s top snowboarders and freeskiers competing in both slopestyle and halfpipe.

The International Ski Federation, or FIS, said in a statement that the move was based on Breckenridge’s contest-ready venue and warm weather at Northstar.

“Despite good quality snow conditions at Northstar, the region was not getting sufficiently cold temperatures for snowmaking teams to ensure the huge production of snow required for building a competition halfpipe and slopestyle venue,” read the statement.

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jasontblevins

 

Ski resorts indulge in gut-busting, decadent food

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at the Little Nell hotel's Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

The Three Little Piggies breakfast sandwich, served at The Little Nell hotel’s Element 47 restaurant in Aspen, Colo., consists of a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, smoked and pan-seared pork belly and house-made sausage gravy, resting on top of an egg-battered French toast waffle, topped off with a fried farm egg. (Photo via Associated Press)

By Scott Mayerowitz
Associated Press

Forget that fresh arugula and grilled chicken salad. This season, ski resorts are letting us indulge with a new slate of warm, hearty comfort foods. They might not be the healthiest thing on the mountain, but after a day of racing down the slopes, they are just what skiers are craving.

Warm bowls of chili and greasy cheeseburgers are long-time staples of ski cuisine. But this season’s comfort foods go beyond chicken fingers and curly fries.

At Colorado’s Copper Mountain, skiers who pop into the Sugar Lip Donuts eatery can now indulge in Little Piggies, which are maple bacon doughnuts. Down the road at Vail’s Four Seasons Resort & Residences, guests can put on some extra calories with “That’s Just Wrong Dog,” a Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in house-cured maple bacon with blue cheese coleslaw and heirloom tomato ketchup.

And in Utah, the Goldener Hirsch Inn & Restaurant at the Deer Valley Resort has unveiled a Rocky Mountain Poutine — a Western twist on the Canadian specialty — with braised lamb and cheese curds (both locally sourced), crispy fries and lamb gravy. It’s described by the restaurant as a “rib-sticking, heart-pounding, I-better-ski-some-more” dish.

“After a day of hard skiing, who wants just a salad? So this season we’re seeing more savory, high-calorie options,” said Susie English, director of communications for Ski Utah. “There are so many creative chefs. They love to create these amazing feasts and dishes. It’s so much more exciting for them.”

Of course there are still plenty of healthy options — and a growing number of gluten-free dishes — but let’s face it, most skiers are on vacation and want to indulge.

Professional skier Chris Davenport spends about 200 days a year skiing. Each day on the mountain burns a lot of calories.

“You need something substantial to fill that tank,” Davenport said. “A salad or a sushi roll isn’t going to do it.”

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Skiing selfies: Helmet cams allow skiers to record their runs

A GoPro digital camera is mounted on a ski helmet. The camera is a hot item on ski slopes and other settings. (GoPro photo via Associated Press)

A GoPro digital camera is mounted on a ski helmet. The camera is a hot item on ski slopes and other settings. (GoPro photo via Associated Press)

By Samantha Critchell
Associated Press

Hey, mom, did you see that cool jump? That explosion of powder? How I squeezed between those trees?

There are moments on the slopes when skiers wish all eyes were on them. But here’s the next best thing: helmet cameras, which enable skiers to photograph and videotape their own descents, jumps and tracks to show off later.

Helmet cams have become so ubiquitous that they are “almost the norm” at Steamboat Ski & Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colo. “The cameras take bragging rights to the next level,” said resort spokeswoman Loryn Kasten.

Steamboat is even incorporating user content into its own social media and marketing, because the vantage point of the skier or boarder taking video has more impact than the pro cameraman standing at the bottom. The user videos, Kasten says, are a “scrapbook in motion.”

A new teen center at a members-only resort will even have indoor video editing booths and a screening room to play footage and finished films for a crowd.

The teen center is part of a new lodge at The Hermitage Club at Haystack Mountain in Wilmington, Vt. Hermitage owner and founder Jim Barnes was inspired by the interest of his own children — ages 16, 14 and 9 — in using the cams.

But the cameras are not just for kids. Barnes recalled a 40-something who took video of 47 runs during a single day last season.

“Each generation pushes other generations to do it. Gen-Xers are sharing, and Gen-Yers and Z. There’s a push for all of them to use cameras because they’re going to share it,” said Kelly Davis, director of research for the SnowSports Industries America association.

“Sharing” is the key: The explosion of social media is what’s led to the leap in cameras among skiers and boarders — not to mention surfers, skate boarders, rock climbers and mountain bikers.

“The cameras seem to be driving people to do more adventurous things, explore the back country, so they can share it,” said Davis. “It’s not just ego. But people are aware that they are presenting an image of themselves, and videos of them doing this stuff starts conversations.”
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Colorado resorts getting ready to welcome skiers, snowboarders

Skiers and snowboarders head down an intermediate run under the American Eagle lift at the Copper Mountain ski area last winter. Copper will open for the 2013-14 season on Nov. 1. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Skiers and snowboarders head down an intermediate run under the American Eagle lift at the Copper Mountain ski area last winter. Copper will open for the 2013-14 season on Nov. 1. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

With November fast approaching, so too are the opening days for ski areas in Colorado.

Favorable early season conditions have paid off for Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski areas. Both were able to open in mid-October and have since been able to open new terrain much sooner than in previous years. A-Basin has been opening new runs two to three weeks earlier than normal, according to our friends at The Denver Post.

Here are the opening dates for the rest of Colorado’s ski areas:

Friday: Copper Mountain, Keystone
Nov. 8: Wolf Creek, Breckenridge
Nov. 13: Winter Park
Nov. 22: Eldora, Vail
Nov. 27: Crested Butte, Steamboat, Beaver Creek
Nov. 28: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Telluride
Nov. 29: Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort
Nov. 30: Howelsen Hill
Dec. 6: Sunlight
Dec. 11: Ski Granby Ranch
Dec. 12: Powderhorn
Dec. 14: Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, Ski Cooper
Dec. 21: Silverton Mountain