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So long, ski season

Matt Zalaznick

season was a real slushfest.

A diehard batch of locals and visitors were lured up the sometimes tattered,

pock-marked slopes Sunday to get a final, few turns in on the last day of the



season at Vail and Beaver Creek mountains – the valley’s only two world

premier resorts.



“Overall, I’d say the snow this winter was average. It wasn’t as good as some

years but there have been seasons where it’s been worse,” said Littleton’s

Lysle Gust, who’s been skiing for 50 years, as he headed up the Centennial



Lift at Beaver Creek.

The snow Sunday, which drew small crowds on both mountains, many compared to a host of sticky, sloppy substances.

“Elmer’s glue would be a good name,” said Andrea Koski, a skier from Edwards who got about 40 days in this season. “The snow’s been about standard. We could have had more snow but the cold weather helped. But I’ve never see the snow at the end of the season this bleak.”

Koski and her daughter Tori were relaxing near the Vista Bahn around 11 a.m., both eager to get a final few hours of snowriding in this season, but clearly in no rush to hit the slopes.

It wasn’t a morning for moguls. Beaver Creek’s double-diamond Peregrine run

was slick, crunchy and unforgiving around 10 a.m. The snow was a bit softer

on Grouse Mountain next door, but battling down the moguls really was

battling down the moguls.

The smarter skiers on both Vail and Beaver Creek stuck to the groomers.

The muddy, gnarled base of Vail Mountain was an unfair indication of

conditions on the slopes up top, which were in pretty good spring shape –

particularly the runs around Northwoods. The Vail Daily Closing Day

Eyewitness ski team’s choice for trail of the day was Gandy Dancer, a front side black run that was so well groomed it could’ve been February.

Except for the 70 degree weather, of course.

Even a few runs in the Back Bowls held up. Headwall, in Sun Up Bowl, was soft

and slushy up top, though it turned icy and a tad more treacherous about half-way down.

Dan Correia, a snowboarder who lives in Avon, said conditions Sunday didn’t

make anybody feel like a rock star.

“It’s dufus snow,” said Correia as he was preparing to board the Vista Bahn.

But after a season where powderhounds were a bit of an endangered species and the only face shots came when you fell on your face, locals who’ve skied both mountains for several years were satisfied with the snow this winter.

“It was good; it wasn’t great,” said Matej Latte, a instructor, who, with no

class teach, was headed to the backcountry to ride Beaver Creek’s popular

Bald Spot.

There was no visual confirmation of Latte, but a few hours later there were

two snowboard trails swooping down the Bald Spot between Birds of Prey and

Grouse Mountain.

But many locals, and former locals, agreed that spring conditions have been a bit drab the closing weeks of this season.

“I never seen the mountain like this until June,” said one time local Matt

Rinn, as he headed up the Vista Bahn, with a bunch of friends he attended

college with in Virginia.

But there were hundreds of actual tourists on the slopes Sunday, despite the

sloppy snow.

“The best thing about the snow is I’m not the greatest skier, so I’m not

worried I’m going to hurt myself or anybody else,” said Abbey Goldman, a

skier from Chicago.

Goldman said she was lured to Beaver Creek this late in the season by the

resort’s well-known end of season employee party. The most popular event of that celebration, which takes place today, is the puddle jumping where

snowboarders and skiers try to slide all the way across a pond next to the

Centennial Lift.

Most visitors, like South African skier Mike Fenwick, who’s visited Beaver

Creek for the last eight springs, said they weren’t disappointed with the

snow.

“People complain but up top it’s still great – until about 1 p.m.,” said

Fenwick, who’s off to Cooper Mountain today.

And, after all, this is Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.

“Relative to the skiing in Colorado, it isn’t that great but we’re having

fun,” said George Stiles, a skier from Pittsburgh who said spring was the

best time for him to get away for a vacation. “The snow’s comparable to the

skiing in New England. I’m used to the slush.”

Heading through the lift line Sunday, a lot of people – those with passes, that is – ask the ticket scanner how many days they got in this season. One member of the Vail Daily Closing Day Eyewitness ski team had about 60, but a ticket scanner at the Vista Bahn said one skier – not an instructor or a ski patroller, either – had 112 days.

But a ski patroller who went through the line Sunday had more than 130.

That’s out of possible 145 or so days of ski season at Vail and Beaver Creek.

And for those of you who want to get your totals a little higher, Copper

Mountain’s open for another week, Keystone will be open until April 28,

Loveland isn’t planning to shut down until May 5 and the Legend, Arapahoe

Basin, could stay open well into June.

Tori Koski, the snowboarder from Edwards riding with her mom, Andrea, said

closing day isn’t all about waking up at the crack of dawn to catch first

chair and getting 30 runs in.

“It’s about having a picnic,” Koski said. “It’s about being up here with the

family on the last day of the season.”

“It’s really because we’re not in Mexico,” added her mother Andrea.


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