New snow draws weekend crowds to Vail
VAIL — If you were expecting a lull in activity following the World Championships this week, then you were most definitely fooling yourself.
Snowy conditions brought the crowds out in droves on Saturday, with the Vail parking structure completely full by 9:36 a.m. and the Lionshead structure filling at about 11 a.m. The Frontage roads hosted another 316 cars, most of which brought skiers who were excited about the falling snow.
The flakes started coming down on Friday night, all but guaranteeing good conditions for the weekend. By 5 a.m. Sunday morning, Vail had reported 9 inches new snow in the last 48 hours.
“We’re really lucky we came when we did,” said Patricio Talavera, of Mexico, who was joined by his friend Rodrigo Corta.
“The snow is really great out here,” said Corta.
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Visiting Vail from Holland, Joost Verhoeff and Ushi Federer said they found exactly the conditions they were hoping for in Colorado.
“We read a story about the Rocky Mountains in the Holland newspaper,” said Verhoeff. “The snow here is the best.”
But it wasn’t just the snow attracting crowds to Vail Mountain over the weekend. On Saturday, the second-annual Vertical Express for Can Do Multiple Sclerosis attracted 100 participants, who all wore purple jerseys and attacked the run Jimmie Heuga Express at 3 p.m., creating a sea of skiers and snowboarders honoring the Olympic medalist and his foundation.
“It’s a growing event, our second annual, so 100 participants is a pretty good turnout for us,” said Cathy Ethington, of Can Do Multiple Sclerosis.
On Sunday, the annual Vail Uphill race attracted 169 competitors. The fresh snow made the annual race — which started in Lionshead Village and ended 2,200 vertical feet higher at the top of the mountain — even more difficult than usual.
“Not everyone was able to complete the challenge,” said Kip Tingle, of the Vail Recreation District.
The winner, Vail Valley local Josiah Middaugh, made it up the mountain in less than 35 minutes, using a snowshoe cleat bolted onto a pair of running shoes. He said that he also brought a standard pair of snowshoes to the race, expecting the track to be softer.
“It ended up being firmer than I was anticipating with all the new snow,” Middaugh said. “Surprisingly firm.”
With the snow picking back up on Sunday afternoon, not everyone visiting from the Front Range was headed right back in that direction.
Denver resident Patrick Kollmyer said after hearing a horror story from last weekend — where his friend detailed a 5.5-hour journey back to Denver from Vail — he opted for a Sunday to Monday trip rather than the typical Saturday to Sunday.
“I’m lucky to have Mondays off work,” he said Sunday afternoon from Vail Mountain.
With a look up to the snow falling overhead, he said, “It looks like tomorrow may be a great day.”