Christmastime snow drawing raves, guests |

Christmastime snow drawing raves, guests

Braden "Pep" Fujas styles it out off of Prima Cornice in Vail on Friday. Pep was in town for Patagonia ambassador day.
Charles Townsend Bessent | |

The forecast

Here’s a look at the National Weather Service’s forecast for Vail through Christmas Day:

Saturday: A 20 percent chance of daytime snow, high of 30.

Sunday: A 70 percent chance of snow, daytime high of 30.

Monday: An 80 percent chance of snow, daytime high of 31.

Tuesday: A “slight chance” of snow, daytime high of 28.

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, daytime high of 29.

Thursday: Chance of snow, daytime high of 27.

EAGLE COUNTY — Snow at Christmas doesn’t really make us all taller, younger, skinnier and better-looking — it just seems that way.

Strong storms in November got pulses racing for virtually everyone involved in winter sports. The past week or so has only quickened that pace. Forecasters say the modest, but steady, snow of the last week will receive a pre-Christmas exclamation point. Meteorologist Joel Gratz of is predicting between 1 and 2 feet of new powder between Sunday and Tuesday. Still more snow is in the forecast for Christmas Day.

Although Beaver Creek isn’t yet fully open, good early-season snow has allowed Vail Resorts to open more than 5,000 acres of terrain on Vail Mountain. The resort company had only opened a bit more than 3,200 acres at Vail on Dec. 21, 2013, with more than 4,500 acres open by Dec. 29.

Snow at Christmas isn’t unusual, of course. Mike Brumbaugh, owner of Venture Sports, said the snow is usually good right now, although some years are better than others.

Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards in Vail, has been in Vail since the 1970s. He was on Vail Mountain Friday, and agreed that this year’s Christmas time conditions are about as good as they get.

Reached Friday on Vail Mountain, Schleper said, “I’ve never seen bad snow over Christmas, but this year should be exceptional.”

Schleper skis as much as he can — he’s using this season as physical therapy following heart surgery earlier this year. As a longtime mountain veteran, Schleper said folks who believe this year’s snow is out of the ordinary weren’t around in the 1970s and ’80s, when snow like this year’s was the norm.

This year, Schleper said, is like those years in terms of early snowfall.

For those with shorter memories, though, this year’s snow is something special.

“To me, this is as good as we’ve had since I can remember in Vail,” Brumbaugh said, adding, “Good snow makes us all smarter.”

‘Best They Remember’

Jeff Burrell, general manager of the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, has been in the valley since just before the hotel opened in 2008. This is the best Christmas time snow in his memory.

“But I know people who work here who have lived here for 20 years or more who say this is the best they remember, too,” Burrell said.

One of the ways snow makes us smarter is on the bottom line. Brumbaugh said this year’s snowfall has been driving people to his rental business.

“Our bookings are off the hook right now,” he said.

The prospect of more snow may drive still more people to the valley, if it comes. But while weather forecasting is better than it once was, there’s still plenty of margin for error.

“Snow’s a lot easier to count when it’s on the ground,” Brumbaugh said. “I don’t get excited until I’m shoveling it off my driveway.”

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