Storm stumbles, powder still pleases |

Storm stumbles, powder still pleases

Matt Zalaznick

“It’s ski season,” said Denver skier Laura Springhetti, on her way up the Vista Bahn at Vail Mountain Saturday morning. “And it’s Christmas.”

A storm skittered into the valley late Friday and Saturday morning, leaving behind a few inches of snow that were on the very low side of totals predicted by forecasters, some of whom were anticipating up to a foot.

The lackluster storm, which forecasters say Vail got the brunt of, did some damage to the lofty image some skiers had held –until Saturday – of the nation’s weather guessers.

“When we were eating breakfast Friday morning, a guy said we were going to get dumped on. I was pretty excited, but it didn’t happen,” said skier John Thompson, visiting from Cincinnati.

From now on, Thompson added, he won’t get excited about powder until he wakes up and his car is buried in snow.

Vail Mountain reported 5 inches of new snow at 7 a.m., Saturday, while Beaver Creek Mountain measured 2 1/2 inches. Despite the weakness of the storm – despite a two-hour drive from the Front Range – most skiers and snowboarders at Vail Mountain Saturday morning said they were pretty happy to be on the slopes.

“It’s Saturday – I’d be here regardless. There’s no better way to spend a Saturday,” said Brooks Parker, a snowboarder from Sugarloaf, CO.

And skier Jeff Thomas, who drove up from Denver Saturday morning, said friends of his who are visiting Vail were a bigger lure than the fresh snow, though, he added, the few inches of new powder didn’t bother him.

“There’s good stuff up here. It’s a bonus,” Thomas said. “I’ve only got 10 days to ski at Vail and Beaver Creek, so I’ve got to use them wisely.”

You’re probably wondering why no locals have been interviewed. Simple. No locals went skiing Saturday (that’s not true).

The snow itself, on the other hand, got mixed reviews.

“The ungroomed places have been really cruddy,” said Thompson, presenting the typical bullish views the Mid-West has long held of snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. “It was just a bunch of chunks.”

But not everyone on the mountain was so conservative.

“I’ve been impressed this year. It’s been good,” said Springhetti, revealing the often more-optimistic, giddier Front Range outlook.

Colorado State Patrol reported no serious accidents as of noon Saturday.

As for the weather, there are no monster storms in the forecast, but snow showers could continue throughout the week, says Paul Frisbie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Showers could continue through this afternoon, but will probably taper off this evening. Snow could drift into the valley again Tuesday and keep falling through Christmas Day, Frisbie said.

“There’s a decent chance on Tuesday and into Christmas Day, but there are no big storms or significant storms in the forecast for the next few days,” Frisbie said.

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

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