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Romance reeks in Vail

Matt Zalaznick

Keats? Not likely. Shakespeare? It’s not iambic pentameter. Word Cup gold-medalist Bode Miller? Perhaps. Whoever said it, though, it succinctly sums up the sentiments of a batch of journalists who left Vail Mountain this Valentine’s Day off the list of North America’s most romantic ski resorts.

Even hills in neo-Parisian places like Idaho and Utah beat the valley’s most famous mountain.



“The guys in Vail take you out to get drunk and get some pizza and that’s it,” says Minturn’s Heather Hotard. “These guys don’t buy flowers.”

Listen guys, all women –even the most hard-core, cliff-jumping, tearing-though-the-threes, blazing-through-the-backcountry tele-mommas – like to get flowers from guys who are flirting with them.



But Zack Povey, invoking the notoriously-titled guy-to-girl ratio in the valley, says there just aren’t that many women in Vail for whom to buy flowers.

“You need guys and girls to have romance,” Povey says.

But Hotard says it’s women who are the losers in that oft-lamented imbalance. With all the competition, she says, guys just don’t think they can get the girls.



“They give up too easily,” Hotard says.

So how come Wile E. Coyote always loses to the Roadrunner?

“I think his ACME products are generic,” says Vail’s Crystal Mallory, referring the suspect company that provides Wile with his ill-fated jet-packs, supersonic scooters and rocket bombs.

Mallory adds that Vail was rightfully excluded from the most romantic list.

“People don’t come here looking for romance. They’re looking to party and snowboard and not take anything too seriously – including relationships,” Mallory says.

Some visitors to Vail have an almost entirely different opinion on the potential for romance. In fact, there’s potential just about everywhere, says Anne O’Connell, a skier visiting from England.

“I think romance is what you make it,” O’Connell says.

“A place like Vail,” says her friend, Rob Parker, “where the scenery is so nice and you’re on holiday and pretty relaxed, you just go have some nice dinner and drink some wine.”

Asa Wertheimer, a skier from Sweden, says the slopes can be extremely romantic.

“When the weather’s nice and the sun is shining –especially up in Blue Sky Basin. That’s very romantic,” Wertheimer says.

But romance is not currently a priority for Wertheimer and her boyfriend, Joakim Ottersten, the couple says.

“Romance is the wrong word for skiing,” Wertheimer says. “We’re here to ski, not for the romance.”

Bill Leslie, a skier who lives near Toronto, boasted about the many Canadian resorts that out-ranked Vail. And we think he’s got the scenery and authenticity to support his patriotic assessment.

“In Lake Louise, there’s a chateau that overlooks the lake and there’s no other development around it – it’s like a fortress up there in the mountains,” Leslie says. “What hit me when I first came to this area is that everything is so new. Most of the Canadian ski towns have a new part and a very old part.”

Some ski areas in the Canadian Rockies and Quebec have a few years on Vail – which was built from the ground up in the early 60s – and Beaver Creek, which is only 20 years old.

“It’s probably the old part of the Canadian ski towns that might make people think they’re more romantic, because there’s quite a history,” Leslie says.

And what about the skiing?

“I would rank Vail above Lake Louise,” Leslie says. “There’s more mountain to ski and the Back Bowls make it a special spot.”

And what about Wile E. Coyote?

“The coyote’s just dumb,” Hotard says.

Oh-uh, here come the letters from Colorado’s coyote lovers.

“OK. That particular coyote is dumb and that particular roadrunner is very smart – it has nothing to do with speed,” Hotard says.

Alas, says snowboarder Michael McGraw, romance in Vail can be fleeting.

“One night romances are much more common – and I think that goes for all age groups,” McGraw says.

Well, in the vicinity of the cubicle in which this article is being written, we can count at least four people who have overcome the tired, be-labored complaints about the valley not having enough girls and have met their soul-mates since coming to Vail.

A few of them are even engaged!

But Breckenridge’s Leslie Angus says romance just may not be endemic to ski towns. The problem’s mental rather than environmental, she points out.

“How can you get more romantic than the mountains at night, with the lights everywhere, after a hard day skiing?” Angus says. “But the guys here are like, “I came here to ride,’ and they don’t worry about romance until they go a while without meeting a girl.”

To settle this debate, we asked Vail’s foremost expert on romance –Vail firefighter turned realty-TV hunk, Ryan Sutter, of “Bachelorette” fame.

“I had to go on TV to find romance,” says Sutter, a part-time poet who is still in the running for Trista the bachelorette’s hand in marriage.

“Actually, I think Vail is a very romantic place, particularly the village,” Sutter says. “My date here with Trista turned her a little toward the mountains. She said she’d be willing to give up here desire to be in the sun.”

Skisnowboard.net’s most romantic ski resorts in North America:

The West:

1. Sun Valley, Idaho

2. Aspen

3. Banff, Alberta

4. Deer Valley, Utah

5. Santa Fe, N.M.

6. Crested Butte

7. Taos, N.M.

8. Telluride

9. Alta, Utah

10. Beaver Creek

The East:

1. Quebec City, Quebec

2. Balsams Grand Resort, N.H.

3. Stowe, Vt.

4. Mont Tremblant, Quebec

5. Jackson, N.H.

6. Bretton Woods, N.H.

7. Mad River Valley, Vt.

8. Lake Placid, N.Y.

9. Eastern Townships, Quebec

10. Charlevoix, Quebec

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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