Snow blankets Vail on closing day
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – The snow never stopped falling this winter at Vail Mountain, so why would it stop for closing day?
You could say Vail Mountain’s closed with a bang on Easter Sunday, and not even thunder and lightning could keep the crowds away from the annual Chair 4 at 4 tradition. For those who didn’t get to the top of Chair 4 early enough, though, the party ended a little bit earlier.
Lightning in the area caused Vail Mountain to close down chairlifts around 3:30 p.m., disappointing the large crowd of people who were waiting in line for Chair 4. Vail Ski Patrol Director Julie Rust said the weather doesn’t often cause any problems on closing day, but this year it did.
Chair 5, which comes out of the Sun Up and Sun Down Bowls, was going to reopen in order to get people out of the Back Bowls, Rust said, and the Vista Bahn and Eagle Bahn Gondola would stay open in order to allow people to download.
Some people who didn’t make it onto Chair 4 in time began hiking to the top because they were so determined to make it to the party. Others chose to ski down and head to town and to the World Pond Skimming Championships.
Jonny Zeller and Whit Boucher made it up to the party in time and said it was packed. While people were turned away at Chair 4 once the weather closed the lifts, those who had made it up to the top could stay.
Zeller and Boucher celebrated an awesome season with thousands of other people, many of whom were dressed in outlandish costumes, they said.
“I lived in Vail this winter and it was absolutely incredible,” Boucher said.
Roxanne Bybee, who was dressed in a banana costume along with two friends, said the mountaintop party was as busy as ever, even as heavy snow came down throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
A snowy season comes to an end
Snow, snow and more snow – that’s been the story at Vail all winter. La Nina kept the white stuff flowing out of the sky for what seemed like an eternity.
As of Jan. 23, Vail Mountain officials knew the season was looking good. The resort reported that snowfall was more than 50 percent above average by Jan. 23, nearly 8 feet more than normal.
They also reported that snowfall was more than double what it was at the same time last season.
And the good news just kept on coming. By April 11, Vail Mountain recorded 450 inches for the season. By Sunday morning, Vail had 524 inches – the most snowfall the resort has recorded in one season in its 48-year history.
Down at the World Pond Skimming Championships at Golden Peak, the moisture came out of the air as rain and hail for about 15 minutes, causing many people to leave the event. At least 1,000 people stayed, though, and watched some pretty spectacular crashes and pond skimming successes.
Dusty Orr, one of three winners at the event, proved that snowboarders can make it across the pond unscathed, even while dressed in a Hulk Hogan costume that left a lot of skin showing. His strategy was simple – just point it and hope for the best.
“This was my first time doing it, I just went for it,” Orr said.
Chris Conrad, also one of the winners Sunday and the winner last year, said the jump was a little smaller this year but it still launched people into the air.
“I just made sure I absorbed that jump and stayed out of the air. I wanted to hit the water as soon as I could,” Conrad said.
Pond Skimming used to be held the day before closing day but Vail Mountain moved the event to closing day last year in an effort to break up the crowds and spread people out more. For people like Conrad, it’s the perfect way to close out the season.
“It’s a great event – the energy, the people – I love coming out here, it’s so much fun,” Conrad said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.