Vail Closing Day 2018: Lots of snow for skiers, sunny skies for swimmers
Massive crowds swarmed Vail Mountain for Closing Day on Sunday, April 15, and there was plenty of terrain open for them to enjoy.
About half of the mountain — 2,791 acres — was available for skiers and snowboarders, and most of it had reached a nice mashed potato consistency by the afternoon.
By 3:30 p.m., most people had made their way to one of two areas — the top of Chair 4 or the bottom of Golden Peak.
Atop Chair 4, thousands of costumed revelers congregated to celebrate the season.
Vail native Hunter Schleper said it turned out to be a pretty good Closing Day.
“For how little of snow we had all winter to now, we have a great Closing Day,” Schleper said.
Onthesnow.com shows Vail receiving 171 inches this season. That’s only slightly better than the 2011-12 season, where the website says Vail received 164 inches.
The big difference between this year and 2012 was evident on Closing Day.
In 2012, Riva Ridge was half grass, the local creeks and rivers had already reached their peak flow for the season, and the snowTEL site on Vail Mountain had completely melted out.
This year on Closing Day, Vail’s snoTEL site was showing 70 percent of the 30-year median, local streams are still far from their peak, and top-to-bottom runs like Riva were devoid of brown patches from Chair 4 to Golden Peak for guests who enjoyed both areas of festivities.
At Golden Peak, sunny skies greeted pond skimmers who were testing their meddle in an effort to win an Epic Pass for next season, along with other prizes.
The pond skimming competition at Golden Peak attracted competitors from as far as Alaska this year, but the winners turned out to be local students Ava Jemison, 15, and Casey Cope, 17.
It was Jemison’s first ever pond skimming competition. She entered with her friend Robin Pavelich, 14; they both made finals.
Cope also won last year. To achieve his repeat victory, he spun a big 360 off the jump during finals.
“I wasn’t sure if I was gonna land it,” he said. “I could do some safe route, a trick I feel like I could land, but I was like I’m gonna send something.”
Cope was also competing alongside his friends, 17-year-old Liam Mattison and 15-year-old ski racer Fletcher Holm. They all made finals.
Mattison won the showstopper award for dropping in switch, hitting the jump into the water facing backwards.
“I just wanted to do something where they were like ‘Oh my god he tried that,’” Mattison said.
Snowboarder Reese Wilkins won a 162 Timber from Weston Snowboards in the Best in Snowboarding division.
Representing Vail’s Finest, officer Greg Schwartz cleaned the pond without a problem wearing his Vail Police Department uniform.
“The chief said I could do it in uniform, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Schwartz said.
By his own admission, Schwartz may have used excessive force in exiting the pond.
“The 360 out didn’t turn out so good, but that’s alright,” he said with a laugh.
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