Shoppers line up for Vail swap |

Shoppers line up for Vail swap

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL – For two hours, Stephen Botts camped outside the Dobson Ice Arena in Vail in the cold with his sleeping bag.

His mission?

“To get the best selection,” he said.

Botts was the first shopper in a long line for Vail’s annual Ski Swap Friday evening.

His dedication seemed to pay off. Once inside the swap, the West Vail resident piled a shopping cart with gear.

“This is my prize right here,” he said, holding a Travis Rice Banana Hammock snowboard he found for $200.

The annual Ski Swap had already drawn about 540 people by 7 p.m. Friday. It continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The event is a fundraiser for the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

“It basically makes us possible,” club development director Jennifer Geisness said. “We’re hoping to raise over $90,000 this year.”

For 40 years, shoppers have been drawn to the deals at the swap, which features discount gear – everything from skis to snowboards to coats. This year featured 25,000 pieces of merchandise.

Many shoppers confessed to strategizing. Shawn Bruckman and Mike Igel came an hour early to get a good place in line. Bruckman, a 25-year-old Avon resident, said she stuck to her $500 budget but ended up with far more gear than she planned.

“Everything was so cheap,” she said.

She scored two snowboards, a pair of bindings, ski boots, snowboard boots, snowshoes – and the piece de resistance: a pair of yellow Liberty powder skis for under $100.

Over by the skis, Marlin Linder from Eagle was eying up a pair of Rossignol Scratches for his 14-year-old son.

Having been to the swap for the past eight years, Linder honed a strategy for getting the best deals.

“We never buy that year’s skis,” he said. “A lot of times with new skis, they’ll get written up in a magazine but you don’t know how honest the write-ups are.”

Instead he buys skis that debuted the year before. That way he can rely on recommendations from friends or colleagues who have tried them.

Avon resident Tim Burch, 36, said he thought the selection at the swap was better than last year.

“I was looking for a jacket, gloves, hat, helmet,” he said. “Everything worked out except the jacket. I just didn’t find the right size at the right price.”

Staff writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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