Snowboarding Dogggg opens Colorado’s snow season – again

Snowboarder Nate Dogggg, left, and his friends celebrate being the first ones on the lifts as Arapahoe Basin Ski area opens it's lifts for the first time this year. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Snowboarder Nate Dogggg, left (in the red jacket), and his friends celebrate being the first ones on the lifts Sunday as Arapahoe Basin Ski area opens for the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

By Austin Briggs
The Denver Post

ARAPAHOE BASIN — The streak of Nate Dogggg lives on.

For the 18th consecutive year, the 36-year-old Breckenridge snowboarder, who declined to give his real name, says he has been the first to catch a chair to the top of a ski lift on Colorado’s opening day.

“We do it for the fans, for those that couldn’t be here, and to build the legend of Nate Dogggg,” said Nate’s friend, Trailer Tom.

After Arapahoe Basin issued a news release late Friday morning saying it would be the first resort in the state to open, Nate, Trailer Tom and two friends showed up about an hour later to camp out for two days under the Black Mountain Lift to secure their spot and legacy at the front of the line.

Their patience paid off when, at about 8:25 a.m. Sunday, the lift opened to cheers, catcalls and a scrum of reporters as the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season kicked off.

Arapahoe Basin officials said they expected 1,000 skiers and snowboarders on the first day.

Under clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-30s, the line on the one lift serving one run quickly reached 400 people.

“People are so excited,” said Arapahoe Basin marketing director Leigh Hierholzer. “We’re honored to be the first in the state to get the season started.”

In 2009 and 2010, Nate Dogggg was on the first chair at Loveland; in 2011 on the first chair at Wolf Creek; and in 2012 on the first chair at A-Basin, according to news reports.

“I’ll start planning around the middle of summer, just calling people to see who wants to be on TV,” Nate Dogggg said. “I pack all my stuff and the second the press release comes out, I’m out the door.”

Hierholzer said Oct. 18 was slated to be opening day, but cooperative weather helped snowmaking operations lay an 18-inch base and move the date four days earlier than last year’s Oct. 17 opening.

Jenn Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, said a snowy spring ended last season on a high note, and that momentum appears to be carrying over into this year.

“We’re seeing a lot of optimism this year,” Rudolph said. “Members have reported robust season-pass sales, and long-term booking is filling up nicely.”

Epic adventure has a big payoff: free skiing, snowboarding for life

Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass now includes 26 mountains in four countries, and the company is calling all globetrotting, Epic Pass-holding, die-hard skiers and snowboarders for The Epic Race – a season-long competition to visit each resort this winter. The first 10 people to complete the race will receive an Epic Pass for life.

“When we launched the Epic Pass with five resorts in 2008, I said our guests wouldn’t be able to out-ski or ride this pass,” said Rob Katz chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. “Five years later, after adding three more countries and 21 additional resorts, we’re throwing down the gauntlet. If you can be one of the first to ski the world, you’ll ski for life.”

Starting Nov. 1, guests can register to ski the world by visiting Each racer will need to ski or ride all 26 resorts on the Epic Pass (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Eldora in Colorado; Canyons in Park City, Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe; Afton Alps, Minnesota; Mt. Brighton, Michigan; Verbier, Switzerland; Arlberg, Austria – St. Anton, Lech, Zürs, St. Christoph and Stuben; and Les 3 Vallées, France – Courchevel, La Tania, Méribel, Brides-les-Bains, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle). Epic Racers will be asked to document and share their experience at each resort they visit to be eligible to win.

“If there was any doubt that the Epic Pass is by far and away the snowsports industry’s best and most comprehensive pass, the experiences these contestants share should put the question to rest,” Katz said. “What other pass allows you to enjoy the steep and deep of the Sierra Nevada, the amazing powder of the Wasatch, the majesty of the Rockies, the urban hills in Michigan and Minnesota, the interconnectivity of the French Alps and the world’s largest linked ski area, the unmatched off-piste skiing and riding of the Swiss Alps, and the birthplace of modern Alpine skiing technique in the Tyrolean Alps?”

Epic Racers will be responsible for their own expenses in undertaking the Epic Race and no racer will be permitted to ski or ride more than one resort per day in the U.S. and two resorts per day in Europe to ensure they capture and enjoy the full experience of each mountain. Race winners receiving an Epic Pass for life will be able to ski or ride only the resorts operated by Vail Resorts in any given year. All rules and guidelines will be posted here on Nov. 1 and included in the registration materials provided to guests.

“The Epic Pass is more attractive than ever, not just because of the access it provides to 26 mountains in four countries, but also because of the unprecedented on-mountain improvements of $130 (million) to $140 million across our resorts for the upcoming season,” said Kirsten Lynch, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “Not since the opening of Blue Sky Basin at Vail have we seen such a significant terrain expansion at a Colorado ski resort as with the addition of Peak 6 at Breckenridge. We’re also adding a new high-speed six-person lift in Mid-Vail to get guests into the Back Bowls faster and opening a new on-mountain restaurant at the base of Beaver Creek’s famed Birds of Prey race course. And then there’s the fourth generation of EpicMix – Epic Academy – which offers a unique way to earn and share your accomplishments in our world-class ski and ride schools.”

Ski/snowboard season for Vail Resorts? In a word, ‘heavenly’

A snowboarder takes full advantage of the snow, slopes and scenery at Heavenly Mountain Resort on Christmas Eve. (Heavenly Mountain Resort photo)

Associated Press

Skier visits this season at Vail Resorts Inc.’s seven resorts in California and Colorado and have risen 5.5 percent from last season, with growth picking up through spring break and the Easter holiday, CEO Rob Katz said Monday.

Meanwhile, season-to-date lift ticket revenue, including

some season pass revenue, was up about 10 percent from the comparable period a year ago. Dining revenue was up about 13 percent, ski school revenue was up more than 11 percent, and retail and rental revenue was up almost 9 percent, the company said.

Exact revenues and skier visit numbers weren’t released. The results were for the season through April 14 and didn’t take into account the reopening of Vail and Breckenridge resorts last Friday through Sunday for one more weekend of skiing and riding after both resorts got hammered with new snow.

The results don’t include recently acquired Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mount Brighton in Michigan. Results were adjusted as if Vail Resorts had owned the newly acquired Kirkwood resort last winter too.

Katz said season pass sales for next season are off to a strong start. He didn’t release details.

Vail operates the Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone ski areas in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mount Brighton in Michigan; and the Grand Teton Lodge Co. in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Fewer and fewer places open for that last run of the season

With only three California resorts still operating — Mammoth Mountain, Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley — the 2012-13 ski/snowboard season has mostly wrapped up in the Golden State. It’s the same story elsewhere in the country. Here’s a status report:

Aspen Highlands will open for one last weekend, this Saturday and Sunday. The resort has received more than 20 inches of new snow in the past week.

Loveland Basin will be open until May 5, and until then the resort is inviting skiers and boarders with passes from any other ski area to bring those passes to Loveland where they may purchase a lift ticket for $36.


Sugarloaf Mountain has an impressive 134 trails still open. No closing date has been announced, but the resort will be scaling back on its grooming efforts mid-week.

Mt. Bachelor will be open daily through May 26, but only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mt. Hood Meadows will be open daily through Sunday, then for one final weekend of the season, May 4-5

Alta has one final weekend, this Friday through Sunday.

Snowbird will be open daily through May 12, then it shifts to a Friday-Sunday schedule for the remainder of the season (likely until the end of May).

Jay Peak, which is expected to close for the season on May 12, has 59 trails and seven lifts in operation.

Killington Mountain Resort– with two lifts and 39 trails open earlier this week – plans to be open every day until May 5, then weekends only beginning May 11.

Sugarbush Mountain Resort will be open daily through Sunday, then opening for one final weekend on May 4 to celebrate its Kentucky Derby/Cinco de Mayo weekend. Two lifts and 24 trails are currently open.

Skiing in Telluride a ‘heavenly’ experience

Skiing into Revelation Bowl at Telluride. Photo by Brett Schreckengost

By Richard Irwin, Savvy Skier
“To hell you ride!” At least, that’s one popular explanation of how the town of Telluride got its name. But a skier or snowboarder riding the snowy slopes this winter will find them heavenly. (Apologies to our California resort.)
We returned to the Colorado ski resort last month for a winter vacation. And we discovered why it ranks among the best snowboarding destinations in the country.
Telluride averages more than 300 inches of snow every year, as well as 300 days of glorious sunshine. An important element for Los Angelinos who are used to seeing the golden rays every day.
And so it was on our February adventure. The mountain had received nearly two feet of new snow the weekend before, and we enjoyed sunny skies for the next four days.
The only weather bump we had was on our last morning, when high winds roared up the box canyon, nearly blowing us off the top of the mountain. So we stayed on the lower slopes, buffered by the towering peaks above.
Telluride is huge, it has more than 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. Galloping Goose, the longest run is more than 4 miles long, though there were a few flat spots that requires some poling.
We found the 125 perfectly groomed every morning, which is quite an accomplishment for a resort this big. This runs ranged from refined groomed runs to some challenging moguls.

Nightly grooming offers perfect corduroy slopes in the morning. Photo by Gus Gusciora

I liked it because many of the trails were wide open boulevards that left plenty of room for everyone. No crowding and squeezing here like you might find at Bear Mountain or Mountain High.
In fact, during the second week of February, we often found ourselves skiing by ourselves. There were literally no other snowboarders within sight or sound.
Telluride has a lift capacity of more than 22,000 per hour. That includes two high-speed gondolas, seven high-speed quads, one fixed quad, two triples, two doubles, two surface lifts and a couple magic carpets.
We never stood in line for more than a few minutes. Most of the time we jumped right on the next available chair.
The popular resort has a nice variety of terrain. The breakdown is approximately a quarter beginner, a third intermediate and 40 percent advanced.
After warming up on the easy stuff, we advanced to the the bright blue runs. There’s so many trails that Telluride even breaks the runs down into double green for advanced beginners and double blue for the harder intermediate trails.
Of course, there were also the diamond runs for the advanced skier and the double diamond trails for the cliffs, chutes and cornices for experts only.
The ski resort has even installed a bridge and steel staircase between Gold Hill Chute 8 and 9 to provide better access to Palmyra Basin. Experts can test themselves on the Gold Hill Stairs, climbing to the tip top of the mountain and the extreme terrain in the Gold Hill Chutes.
The mountain sports a vertical drop of 4,425 feet, with a lift served vertical drop of 3,845 feet.
Snowboarders will find a great range of freestyle terrain parks on the mountain. Beginners will like Ute Park, which features a mini snow-cross, small jumps and ride-on boxes.

Skier hikes Gold Hill Stairs at Telluride. Photo by Ben Eng

Misty Maiden Park was designed for intermediate to high intermediate riders. It has medium jumps, rails and boxes. Advanced riders will like Hoot Brown Park with its large jumps, as well as a wide variety of rails and boxes.
Skiers come from around the world to ski at Telluride. One gentleman from Mexico brought his many children and grandchildren.
Der Sitzmark Ski Club from Pittsburgh was certainly having a grand time. The club has more than 300 members, who enjoy weeklong ski trips throughout the country including an upcoming one to Crested Butte.
“Telluride is one of our favorites, we always have some great skiing here,” said the club president and one of its founders.
So if you’re looking for a “helluva” good place to ski this winter give Telluride a look. “To hell you ride!”<QA0>

Airbags prove a useful training tool for X Games competitors

Bobby Brown slides down the hill after wiping out in the men’s ski big air finals at the Winter X Games. The use of an airbag in training can help develop the body mechanics needed for big tricks, but it also increases the risk for athletes striving for glory in action sports now defined by increasingly technical and dangerous tricks. (Photo by Daniel Petty/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

Backflips are taking over skiing and snowboarding. Spinning double and triple-corked trickery was the golden ticket in every competition at last weekend’s X Games in Aspen.

The sketchy-to-learn tricks have expanded the training toolbox for athletes to include massive airbags.

Superstar Shaun White honed his triple-cork on a private airbag at Breckenridge. His airbag training at a private pipe at Silverton Mountain in 2010 greased his way to Olympic halfpipe gold that year. Today, the massive bags aren’t just for the pros but also the young aspirants nipping at their heels.

“It’s just changed everything. It’s so valuable and such a great in-between step, that difficult step between imagining a new trick and actually doing it. Now we can have the luxury of taking that step and not get hurt,” said Aspen’s Gretchen Bleiler, who sessioned an airbag at Mammoth Mountain ski area two weeks ago as she regained her snowboarding pipe form after suffering an eye injury while training on a trampoline.

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Shaun White slides into X Games slopestyle and superpipe finals

Shaun White competes in men’s snowboard slopestyle at the X Games on Thursday in Aspen. White qualified for the finals by placing seventh. (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

By David Krause
The Denver Post

ASPEN — With some of the more exciting qualifiers rolling through Thursday afternoon to open the X Games, crowds were looking to the skies on a regular basis.

With only one finals event Thursday at Buttermilk Mountain, the opening day for the X Games features plenty of qualifying runs down the superpipe and the slopestyle course for the men.

Shaun White squeezed into the slopestyle finals, advancing for the first time since 2009 when he won gold. White qualified seventh Thursday after two runs in the elimination round.

Later in the evening, White, who has won the past 11 superpipe events he’s entered, put down a basic first run and earned 87 points, which was tops for the round. However, he dropped to second overall after Iouri Podladchikov, know better as I-Pod, had an 87.33-point run in the second round.

White had a chance to best I-Pod, but White bottomed out on his first hit of the second run.

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Torin Yater-Wallace returns to X Games halfpipe as ‘veteran’

Torin Yater-Wallace has the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in his sights as he throws tricks that include the first-ever 1800 in competition. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

Torin Yater-Wallace in 2011 was the youngest athlete to medal at the Winter X Games at age 15. Two years later the halfpipe phenom is a battle-scarred, heavy-medaled veteran.

After a momentous 2012 that included the first-ever 1800 thrown in competition and gold medals at both the Europe Winter X Games and the first World Cup contest of the 2012-13 season in New Zealand, the 17-year-old is still on track for an explosive performance in halfpipe skiing’s debut at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

This week Yater-Wallace will announce a sponsorship deal with Red Bull — but he keeps the Target lid — and returns to the halfpipe for his third X Games at Aspen after surgery to repair his shoulder.

Joining him in the halfpipe this show are his best pals, 18-year-old Aspen native Alex Ferreira and Crested Butte 16-year-old Aaron Blunck. The contest will highlight the newest-school halfpipe skiers and weathered patriarchs of pipe Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall.

“We have always skied together, and they have supported me so much in the last two years, and now seeing them get this opportunity, it’s just awesome,” Yater-Wallace said of his friends during a phone interview this week. “My first X Games was terribly nerve-wracking, so I kind of know what they’ll be feeling. I think it will definitely loosen it up, just to be hanging with good friends at the pipe. It could feel like just another day, you know.”

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Steamboat ski area celebrates a rich history during its 50th anniversary

This classic 1958 photo was taken atop Storm Mountain, which became Mount Werner in 1964 and now is the top of the Steamboat ski area. From left are Jon Elliott, Jim Temple, John Fetcher, Buddy Werner and Loris Werner. (Steamboat Ski Resort photo)

By John Meyer

The Denver Post

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — At first glance, perhaps it doesn’t look like such a special photo: five guys on skis posing at the summit of Storm Mountain in March 1958. But that shot taken by Merle Nash represents so much of what Ski Town USA and the Steamboat ski area — currently celebrating its 50th anniversary — are all about.

The men in the photo that day were exploring the mountain that would become a great ski destination known worldwide for “champagne powder.” It includes Jim Temple, the area’s founder, and John Fetcher, its other visionary. The others are Steamboat Olympians: Buddy Werner, the first great American ski racer, along with brother Loris, who made Olympic teams as a ski jumper and alpine racer, and jumper Jon Elliott.

It’s such a symbolic picture. Temple and Fetcher were ranchers in a town built on ranching. Both loved to ski and saw great potential in Storm Mountain, which would be renamed Mount Werner after Buddy was killed in a Swiss avalanche in 1964. The Werners and Elliott grew up competing at historic Howelsen Hill near downtown Steamboat Springs.

At a recent gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary, Loris Werner recalled how Temple fell and ripped the seat of his pants the day that photo was taken, near the bottom of what is now the Rainbow trail.

“So henceforth the saddle of Rainbow, we always referred to it as Temple’s Crotch,” Werner said.

Steamboat has to be America’s friendliest ski town, and I had a wonderful time at the party, catching up with so many longtime friends. Temple and Fetcher are dead, but their sons were there.

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Shaun White may have triple-cork down before Winter X Games in Aspen

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

As Shaun White ramps up for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, all eyes will be watching him in the slopestyle competition next week at Aspen’s Winter X Games.

He’s gunning to compete in both halfpipe and slopestyle in Sochi and is pretty much a lock for the halfpipe team. His push for slopestyle is less certain, despite his enthusiasm and a list of slopestyle win that eclipses his halfpipe tally.

“I love to compete in slopestyle,” he said last month in an interview before the Breckenridge Dew Tour, where he won the halfpipe competition and didn’t compete in the slopestyle event. “It’s definitely more exciting to me than halfpipe right now.”

After two seasons off from slopestyle competition to prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympics halfpipe, White’s return to the realm of money booters foundered. He failed to make the finals in the 2011 X Games and qualified last in the 2012 X Games. The next month he won the X Games slopestyle comp in Tignes, France with back-to-back double corks.

But double corks, while the double-flipping winners in the pipe, are so 2011 in slopestyle. Teenager Mark McMorris and Canadian Sebastian Toots battled in last year’s X Games slopestyle contest with dueling backside triple-cork 1440s. (That’s four rotations and three flips — and pretty much ridiculous.)

So the question has been whether White would develop the triple cork in time for a slopestyle showdown on the X Games Buttermilk course. Videos posted Wednesday from White’s practice sessions in Breckenridge’s terrain park seem to indicate that he’s ready.