VAIL — The Great Race reload’s turnout was less-than great on Sunday, with heavy snow detracting participants and soaking those who did brave the obstacle course.
And as weekend one of Vail’s end-of-season party, dubbed “Spring Back to Vail,” wrapped up with activities at Golden Peak on Sunday, guests attempting to leave the valley after a weekend on the slopes gathered at the Vail Welcome Center, awaiting a closed Vail Pass to reopen.
Zach Smith, of Denver, found himself spending out the afternoon in Vail after skiing Beaver Creek on Sunday, unable to get back home. He said seeing the pass closed was a surprise.
“There was nobody on the roads driving up this morning,” he said. “I talked to my wife at about 12:30 p.m., she said the CDOT app showed clear traffic, so I said we’re going to go do a couple more runs. I got on the road at 2 p.m. and saw Vail Pass was closed, but I’ve been wanting to check out the ski museum anyway.”
Smith also said he was going to take a walk over to Golden Peak to check out the free concert by all-female Led Zeppelin cover band Lez Zeppelin.
“Not a bad time to be stranded, I guess,” he said. “I’d like to be home before my 9-month son goes to bed, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The Lez Zeppelin show followed Vail’s Great Race 2.0, a new event tied in with the end-of-season events at Vail. The Great Race 2.0 was supposed to be capped off at 35 two-person teams, but only two teams showed up.
Andrew Moyer, of Vail, was on one of those teams with his friend Terry Renalde, of Denver.
“Years from now we’ll have a cat taking people back up between runs, we’ll talk about this time when we brought back the Great Race to Vail,” Moyer said with a laugh.
Moyer and Renalde were beat out by Allison O’Brien and Katie Post, who came out to Vail from Boulder and Denver for the weekend.
Like O’Brien and Post, thousands crossed the pass from the Front Range during the weekend to catch Vail’s Saturday night concert, STS9, at Ford Park. While ski crowds often fill the Vail Village parking structure on Saturday, it was the night crowd that finally pushed the structure to capacity, filling it up by about 7 p.m.
But not all visitors were here to see STS9. O’Brien, 25, said it was the mountain that drew her here this weekend, not the shows. She skipped Saturday’s STS9 concert.
“We were partying in Blue Sky all day,” she said. “I thought I was going to puke during the Great Race today.”
Vail Resorts’ Marketing and Sales Director David Ratchford says having a variety of activities is important to their closing week festivities. Vail will wrap up the season on Sunday with another free concert, Steel Pulse beginning at 4:40 p.m., in addition to the annual World Pond Skimming Championships, scheduled for 3 p.m.
“We want people to have a fun time on the hill, and then go watch events like the Great Race, the pond skimming and the free concerts,” Ratchford said. “Spring Back to Vail is basically a thank-you party to all of our guests for coming out at the end of the season.”
O’Brien and Post said the docket will draw them back again this weekend, and after their winning performance in Sunday’s Great Race 2.0, they’re hoping for more excitement.
“”We’re hoping we win a free entry into the pond skimming competition next weekend,” O’Brien said.