Burton Open bolsters Vail brand
Burton Open schedule
Halfpipe, slopestyle practice
VAIL — With the world’s best snowboarders competing in town and free live music beginning Wednesday night, the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships bring a new wave of people into town, but some local businesses don’t seem to notice much difference.
“I don’t know how much retail business it brings,” said Buzz Schleper, of Buzz’s Boards in Vail. “This storm I’m looking at on the computer coming in is going to bring more people, I think.”
The daytime action takes place at Golden Peak each day, with semifinals on Wednesday and Thursday and finals taking place Friday and Saturday. The party moves to Solaris after dark for live music Wednesday through Saturday.
For employees at Sweet Basil in Vail Village, it’s business as usual this week, but it’s also a chance to take advantage of the longest-running snowboarding competition that takes place in our backyard.
“We don’t see a drastic increase in our numbers because we’re already at capacity almost every night,” said Chris Bate, manager of Sweet Basil. “We do see a little bit of an increase in our bar crowd. If anything, it’s a nice little break for the staff. We still have a long March ahead of us, so it’s a good break for them.”
Bate said he told his staff in a Monday meeting to get out on the town this week and enjoy the festivities — when they aren’t working.
“To me, it’s more important for my staff to have something to be excited about,” he said.
La Tour restaurant is taking advantage of its prime location steps away from Solaris and packed with foot traffic heading to the concerts later in the evenings.
“This time of year is pretty busy regardless,” said Chris Russell, general manager at La Tour. “With the Burton Open, we get more traffic through here, so we’re excited about it. We’re gearing up, and it’s going to be a fun time.”
La Tour will host a patio party each day of the Burton U.S. Open starting Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. just before the free music begins down the street, hoping to attract some of that foot traffic walking through town.
While the Burton U.S. Open is not a boon for local businesses such as other festivals created specifically to put heads in beds, it’s a chance to showcase the town — and its businesses.
“It’s good for our image,” Schleper said. “It just puts us on the map as a strong snowboarding community. Jake Burton could put this anywhere he wants, and he picked Vail. It’s great for us.”
There’s an energy and vitality sweeping through town this week, and as always, Rayla Kundolf is excited to have people in town, even though her Masters Gallery is located away from most Burton events.
“The Burton Open is here for the town and certain retail,” Kundolf said. “I get lucky once in a while, but I notice people looking in windows, and they’ll come back through when they find the time or at a later date.”
With the snowboarding world watching and Vail in the spotlight, it’s a chance for the town, and its businesses, to make a lasting impression on visitors.
“I am always an ambassador,” Kundolf said. “It doesn’t matter what event it is.”