Early December snow floats resorts through holidays, but just barely

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

The holiday snow in the high country arrived too late to rescue lodgekeepers in December but boosted bookings for January and February.

The latest Mountain Travel Research Program — or MTRiP — survey of 160 property management companies in 16 western resort communities shows December 2012 lodging occupancy finished 7.9 percent behind the previous December. But the average daily room rate climbed for the 19th consecutive month, increasing 2.6 percent over December 2011.

Still, the late snow that followed a dismally dry November and early December helped. Reservations heading into December were down 12.3 percent.

“What a difference a month makes,” said Ralf Garrison, director of MTRiP, in a statement released Wednesday, Jan. 16. “Mother Nature finally delivered some much needed snow from coast to coast just in time for the Christmas holidays and the fresh powder really helped fill some December lodging vacancies at ski resorts as well as generating buzz and bookings for January and February.”

The snow also stirred bookings for the rest of the season, with December bookings through May up 10.4 percent over last season. January bookings climbed 3.5 percent and February is up 8.6 percent.

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New winter sports for the family to experience on snowy terrain

Riding bumper cars on ice — these are at Howelsen Ice Arena in Steamboat Springs, Colo. — is one of a number of relatively new diversions being offered in winter recreation destinations, along with airboarding, snow bikes and snowkiting. (Photo by Karen Schwartz/Associated Press)


By Karen Schwartz

Associated Press

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — After nearly 50 years of living in the Rocky Mountains, I thought I knew how to enjoy the winter. I’ve gone skiing, skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, sleigh riding, dog-sledding and more.

But until this winter, I’d never heard of bumper cars on a skating rink. And it wasn’t until recently that I had my first chance to carve turns down a ski hill on a snowbike.

It’s part of a trend to provide visitors to ski resorts and other snowy destinations with a wider variety of choices, said Troy Hawks, managing editor of the National Ski Areas Association Journal.

“What we’re seeing is a larger swath of the family — you’ve got the grandkids all the way to the grandparents — and all of them have their idea of how they want to spend their day,” he said.

Some activities are more popular in certain regions, and some aren’t well advertised, so for a different spin on a snow-destination vacation, here are some things to look for:

Air bags
These massive, inflatable air bags are placed at the bottom of jumps to allow skiers and boarders to try flips and spins. Nail the landing on your feet and you ride off down the hill. Fail, and you have a soft landing. www.bagjump.com or www.bigairbag.com

Airboards
A high-tech spin on winter tubing, these snow body boards are inflatable sleds with molded plastic runners on the bottom and handles on the top. The sleds can reach speeds of 60 mph or more (nearly 100 kilometers per hour), and users steer by shifting their body weight. They’re offered at some ski areas (though banned at others) as well as through some private operators. www.airboard.com has a partial list of rental locations.

Bumper cars on ice
Just what it sounds like, these are turning up at skating rinks from coast to coast. The battery-operated “cars” are large rubber tubes with molded seats that can hold one adult or an adult and small child. Controlled by two joysticks, they are easy to steer or spin as they bump along on wheels with tiny cleats. Most rinks have age, height or weight restrictions.

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Video: Snowboarder Shaun White chops signature locks for worthy cause

The Denver Post

Shaun White left Breckenridge recently and went straight to the salon to have his red locks removed.

White, whose trademark long red hair has promoted “The Flying Tomato” nickname he picked up early in his career, posted video of getting his long ponytail cut off.

He said he has been thinking about it for a “long while” and wanted to donate it to Locks of Love.

“Somebody needs it more than I do,” he says during the car ride to a random salon. And after the final cut: “I did it for you, Locks of Love.”

The Locks of Love organization makes hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

White seemed a bit nervous during the 2-minute video as he arrived at the salon and as he gained the courage to sit in the chair.

“I haven’t had this short of hair in forever,” he says in the video.

Maybe he’ll be used to it by the time he comes to Aspen to defend his X Games title on Jan. 24-27.

It’s been a slow start to the ski season, but skiing Sunday was grand

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opens for it’s first day of skiing and snowboarding of the year on October 17, (2012 Mahala Gaylord, The Denver Post)

By John Meyer
The Denver Post

Like most avid skiers, I’ve been increasingly stir crazy waiting for an opportunity to get in some real skiing through what has been a very lean season for snow thus far.

Oh, I made a few turns on manmade snow when I had access to the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center one morning last month. I took a day when I made a run or two each at Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone and Copper Mountain — and then rode my bike from Copper to Vail Pass. I got so anxious for skiing that I went up to Loveland one afternoon, skiing the same two runs over and over again.

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