Vail Tales: Vail’s Ouzo ski run |

Vail Tales: Vail’s Ouzo ski run

Ouzo was one of the negotiating tools local ranchers with those launching the new ski area. Chris Jouflas used Ouzo to help smooth the deal for a ski run accidentally cut on his property. That run is named Ouzo.

VAIL – Chris Jouflas and the Jouflas clan ran one of the largest sheep-ranching operations in the country right in Eagle County.

In fact, the Jouflas crew was herding sheep on Vail Mountain for decades before it was named Vail Mountain.

One summer day not so very long ago, Jouflas was about the business of herding sheep at the top of what is now Lionshead.

He came across a couple of pleasant young guys wandering around the area, taking notes and pointing at things. That was 1960, when it was still impolite to point.

Those guys were Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton.

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“I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were going to build a ski area,” said Jouflas, whose family ranched the area for most of the 20th century, even after the ski area was built.

As construction continued, the mountaintop encounters became more frequent, and the groups he met were growing larger.

Eventually, they started talking to Chris about buying some land for things such as ski runs and ski lifts. Those discussions included some pretty serious numbers by 1960 standards, and Jouflas began to split his focus between ranching and real estate.

Those real estate discussions worked their way deep into the winter, when they finally reached a handshake agreement for 80 acres for a lift near what is now Lost Boy.

“They wanted to buy them and build a chairlift,” Jouflas said. “We started talking, and it finally came to fruition one winter evening. As was my tradition in those days, I brought a bottle of Ouzo.”

And that, history buffs, is how the ski run of the same name earned its moniker.

When the Vail developers bought another 135 acres, which, as we understand it, became Game Greek Bowl, that deal was also consummated with a couple more rounds of Ouzo.

“They created the legend. I just brought the bottle,” Jouflas said. “As I recall, it’s a black diamond run, which works out pretty well because Ouzo is a black diamond drink.”

If you don’t know what Ouzo is, you need to get out more. For the uninitiated, Ouzo is an anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece and Cyprus, and it’s known to be a symbol of Greek culture.

Modern Ouzo distillation largely took off in the beginning of the 19th century following Greek independence, and after absinthe began to fall into disfavor.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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