Vail takes fourth in Ski Magazine rankings
Ski Magazine Best of the West 2017
1. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
2. Aspen Mountain, Colorado
3. Deer Valley, Utah
4. Vail, Colorado
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
6. Beaver Creek, Colorado
7. Steamboat, Colorado
8. Telluride, Colorado
9. Snowmass, Colorado
10. Sun Valley, Idaho
VAIL — Three of the top-10 resorts in Ski Magazine’s Best in the West 2017 rankings are owned by Vail Resorts, but the top spot is not Vail Mountain.
Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Vail Resorts’ recent $1.1 billion purchase, claimed the top spot for the fourth year in a row. Vail Mountain jumped from seventh to fourth in 2017. And Beaver Creek, after ranking 10th last year, is now sixth.
“I think as a mountain and a community, we always strive to be No. 1,” said Vail Mayor Pro Tem Jenn Bruno. “Being fourth is pretty incredible, but it gives us the opportunity to move up the list.”
Vail Mountain used to be a regular atop the list, and when it first started slipping, there was an uproar from locals.
Fear not, however, because the Epic Pass still gets you on the mountain at the No. 1 spot, except that won’t start until the winter of 2017-’18.
“Whistler is definitely one of my favorites,” said Vail local Hunter Schleper. “Obviously, Vail is my No. 1, but every time I’ve gone to Whistler it’s been awesome, if you get the weather right, of course.”
Schleper said he enjoys the extreme terrain at Whistler compared to that at Vail, but his hometown resort beats out Whistler in a few categories, in his mind.
“It’s very comparable to Vail — both huge mountains,” he said. “Vail’s weather is hands-down better, and our snow is better because it’s lighter and fluffier.”
Categories ranked for the Best in the West include snow, value, access, dining, lodging, apres, variety and challenge.
The report on each mountain ranked also provides average snowfall totals, acres, lifts, signature experiences, what’s new and other tidbits.
Vail Mountain’s top three strengths were apres (ranked third), grooming (ranked fifth) and terrain variety (ranked sixth). Its top three weakness were value, scenery and character.
Beaver Creek Mountain’s top three strengths were service (ranked second), grooming (ranked third) and on-mountain food (ranked sixth). Its weaknesses were value, scenery and terrain variety.
Whistler Blackcomb’s top strengths were terrain variety (ranked first), off-hill activities (ranked first) and lodging (ranked second). Its top three weaknesses were snow, grooming and accessibility.
Vail Mountain opens Nov. 18, and Beaver Creek opens Nov. 23.
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.