Areas Rank High in Reader Poll
By DANIEL GIBSON
The 2001-2002 rankings
of North America ski resorts compiled by Ski Magazine based
on reader input found regional areas faring quite well-as usual.
In overall quality,
Telluride came in at position 19, while Crested Butte ranked
26, Taos 27 and Durango Mt. Resort 30. The top five were Deer
Valley, UT; Vail; Whistler/Blackcomb, BC; Aspen Mt.; and Sun
Valley, ID. In the "snow quality" category, Wolf Creek
was ranked number 3 (bested by Alta, UT; and Grand Targhee;
WY), while Taos nailed down the 10-spot in "terrain"
(Whistler/Blackcomb led, followed by Jackson Hole, WY; Alta;
Mammoth Mt., CA; and Snowbird, UT). Taos also ranked high, number
5, in "challenge" (led by Jackson Hole; Snowbird;
Mad River Glen, VT; and Alta). Wolf Creek scored well in "value"
with a number 9 ranking, while Telluride took the number 4 slot
in "scenery" (led by Wildcat, NH-go figure; Lake Louise,
ALB; and Heavenly, CA) and the 10-spot in "dream vacations"
(led by Whistler, Vail, Jackson Hole and Aspen Mt.).
Categories the regional
resorts missed out on were "off-hill activities,"
"on-mountain food" and "grooming." That's
quite a remarkable report card, especially considering the relatively
small market the southern Rocky Mountains region represents
in the overall ski/boarding scene in North America.
Here are some of
the specific remarks readers made about the regional resorts.
Telluride: "no liftlines;" "beautiful scenery;"
"hard to get to;" "lots of this place scares
the hell out of me." Taos: "a mountain that skis bigger
than its vertical, especially if you hike;" "skiing
off the Ridge is bliss;" "when it doesn't snow, it
gets small;" "snobby old skiers think they're too
good to allow boarders." Crested Butte: "Awesome steeps,
bowls and chutes, and great, fun town;" "no crowds,
very friendly;" "tough to get to;" "a little
rusty around the edges." Durango Mt. Resort: "beautiful
scenery, great weather, no crowds;" "nightlife at
the resort is terrible;" "too many catwalks make for
a lot of poling."
Here's a look forward at special events at regional resorts.
Santa Fe will host the annual Gladfelter Memorial Bump Run for
boarders and skiers on March 30. Sandia Peak is the site of
the annual Southwest Snowboarding Competition in March (call
505/242-9133 for details). Angel Fire holds a boardercross and
skiercross competition on Feb. 23, a halfpipe open competition
for skiers and snowboarders on March 2, a Big Air Competition
for skiers and snowboarders on March 3, and an alpine giant
slalom race on March 9. Ski Apache is host to the annual Texas
State Ski Championship March 3-4. The event is open only to
Texas residents (ID required) and will feature divisions for
men and women, boarders and skiers, in various age categories
(ages 12-over 45). Grand prize for the fastest man and woman
is a season ski pass, but prizes will be awarded in all categories.
Entry costs $60 (which includes 2-day lift pass, T-shirt and
race fee) in advance or $80 on race day. Taos checks in with
a Ski Masters Week beginning Feb. 24 for skiers 50 years and
up; a telemark ski week for free heelers beginning Feb. 24;
a women's ski week March 3-8; and the Ernie Blake Weekend Celebration
March 23-24. The latter is held annually in honor of the late,
great resort founder, with a beer festival, torchlight parade
and fireworks, live music and a mountain treasure hunt.
Colorado areas come
up big with many special events. Durango Mt. Resort hosts Mardi
Gras Week Feb. 25-March 1; the Dave Spencer Ski Classic (for
adaptive sport participants) March 1-3; the Goliath Gelunde
Jump March 1-3 (jumping on ordinary skis); the Subaru Master
the Mountain event March 2-3 and the Pontiac Vibe SnowJam March
10-11. Telluride will hold an "in-drag" benefit race
for Aids on Feb. 23; a women's ski week March 4-8; and its infamous
"Surf the Rockies" bash March 30-April 7, including
the bikini slalom, a dance on Main Street, the Slush Cup and
an Easter egg hunt. Crested Butte is the site of the U.S. Telemark
National Championships Feb. 27-March 3, with slalom, giant slalom
and race categories open to citizens and licensed racers (details
at www.ustsa.org). The Kim Reichhelm's Women's Ski Adventure
runs March 7-12; and the 8th annual Magna Bloc U.S. Extreme
Boarderfest March 19-24.
Daniel Gibson of
Santa Fe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is the author of four books, most recently Pueblos of the Rio
Grande: A Visitors Guide (Rio Nuevo Publishers). He has been
skiing in New Mexico for 40 years, and publishes a biweekly
snow sports column at www.sfaol.com.
Snowbases slowly continue to improve throughout the southern
Rockies region, but conditions are far from stellar. The best
regional conditions are found in New Mexico at Taos and Ski
Apache, and in Colorado at Wolf Creek, though most intermediate
runs at almost all areas are in at least good shape; it's on
advanced and expert slopes that things get sketchy.
Contact Ski N.M.
at 505/984-0606 or www.skinewmexico.com for reports on New Mexico
ski areas and to order a free winter trip guide; Colorado Ski
Country at 303/825-SNOW or www.coloradoski.com for Colorado
reports; or individual areas: Angel Fire--800/633-7463 x 3;
Crested Butte--888/TO POWDER; Durango Mt. Resort: 800/525-0892,
ext. 6; Enchanted Forest (XC)-800/966-9381; Monarch--800/228-7943;
Pajarito--888/662-7669; Red River--505/754-2220; Sandia Peak--505/857-8977;
Ski Santa Fe--505/983-9155; Sipapu--505/587-2240; Ski Apache--505/257-9001;
Taos Ski Valley--505/776-2916; Telluride--970/728-7425; Wolf