Vail up to 261 cumulative inches this season
VAIL — We have been lucky this season. The East Coast may have had their snow year, but many other mountains in the U.S. didn’t fare so well.
In California, Heavenly has reported 75 inches this season and Mammoth is reporting about 120 inches of snow received since November. In the Northwest, Mt. Baker has suspended operations for the last few weeks due to bad conditions. To the north, Big Sky Resort has recorded 188 inches this season. To the south, Taos has had a good spring and has even extended their closing by a week, but their totals are still sitting at only 167 inches so far this season.
So in Vail, where we have received 261 inches total snowfall since Opening Day, skiers are feeling pretty good in the slushy spring conditions right now.
“I was in the Back Bowls and Blue Sky all day, the snow was awesome,” Will Franklin of Denver said Saturday. “Great day to be in Vail.”
HAPPY HOUR AT THE BEACH
Franklin spent the afternoon and early evening hours lounging shirtless on a patio chair at the tiki bar and palm tree area known as The Beach at Mid-Vail.
“They were playing music, we were rocking out, it was awesome,” he said.
The Beach is one of several new features Vail has put in play this spring to capture a sunny vibe in the resort’s continuing effort to provide a unique experience for their guests. Another, more involved move was to extend the operating hours on the front side of the mountain until 5 p.m. starting Saturday.
Carlos Ibarra, of Mexico, was loving it.
“I haven’t been to Vail in 8 years,” he said during an early evening gondola ride on Saturday. “It’s amazing what a special place it has become.”
Ibarra acknowledged it was likely the travel and skiing habits of his countrymen that may have accounted for the change in hours.
“So the locals out here enjoying the late hours have us to thank,” he said with a laugh.
Saundra Spaeh, a 35-year-resident of Vail, said she was thankful for the late hours and she took full advantage on Saturday, skiing into the early evening.
“I’ve never seen the whole front side open this late,” she said. “It’s a great idea.”
VONN HOME, HAPPY
And it wasn’t just recreational skiers enjoying the spring conditions on Vail Mountain during the weekend. Lindsey Vonn herself spent a day skiing with the kids in her Ski Girls Rock program and cheering on skiers in her Epic Mix Racing competition.
Four-time Olympian skier Casey Puckett was also enjoying some spring skiing in Vail on Saturday, and took part in the Epic Mix Racing event. He laid down a smoking fast combined time of 56.26 seconds in the two-run competition; the nearest racer to him was former Vail resident Eric Lee, who came in at 60.87 seconds.
“It was really great getting to spend time with Lindsey and hear her speak,” Lee said. “Coming off the World Cup, she’s home now and you can see that it’s starting to set in, everything she accomplished. She was saying she’s happy about winning the downhill and super-G globes, and she’s happy about being the new World Cup wins leader, but it wasn’t so much the words, it was the tones in what she said. She’s exuding this natural happiness, and it just felt so sincere. One thing she said that stuck with me was ‘I don’t think anyone thought I would be here with these globes after my second knee surgery.’ She said that and I started remembering all the doubters, and I was just really happy for her.”
With Puckett doing the honorable thing and throwing out his performance, Lee became the Epic Mix Racing overall winner on the day. As an amateur racer in his 40s who continues to dedicate time to the sport, he too was exuding a natural happiness. After all, he had to go through two-time Epic Mix Racing defending champion Natron Smith, who did not want to lose.
“But if I could pick one person to beat me, it would be Eric Lee,” Smith said. “I love that guy.”
Lee said after not finding housing in Vail and moving to Breckenridge this season, he was pleasantly surprised by the race training facilities our eastern neighbor had available after getting used to the world class facilities at Golden Peak during the past few years.
“The race crews at Breckenridge got to know me by name from jumping into the course once a day,” he said. “They were really supportive, always helping me out and saying encouraging things.”
Spring skiing will continue at Vail through April 19, with the 5 p.m. close time in effect until April 12.