Winners selected in this year’s Vail Daily, TV8 Tell Us Your Love Story contest |

Winners selected in this year’s Vail Daily, TV8 Tell Us Your Love Story contest

Krista Driscoll
Mike and Denise Leigh.
Special to the Daily |

Vail Valley, we asked you to tell us your love stories, and you definitely delivered. From powder-day proposals to traveling the world as skiing couples to nearly missed connections made possible on the mountain, cheers to all of the amazing romances made possibly by our snowy home.

Out of the nearly two-dozen submissions, we picked the three we thought best interpreted the “Powder Couple” contest theme for this year’s Tell Us Your Love Story contest. Congratulations to the winners.

White earring, white snow

It would be impossible to find a white earring that is buried in the snow. Or would it be? Let me see if memory serves me well …

It was 30 years ago — January of 1986, to be exact. I was skiing with some friends on Vail Mountain. We came upon a young lady at the top of Chair 4 who was skiing by herself that day. She looked familiar, the long blond hair, the brown eyes, the ribbons and bows in her hair.

A month before, a friend had introduced us while she was working at Gorsuch. I was in Vail teaching skiing during my holiday college break. All pretty in pink, she did not look the part of a skier. But when we all took a run down to MidVail, I watched in awe. Wow, could that girl ski. She gracefully floated down the mountain like a pink butterfly.

Well, I was certainly impressed and made sure I got onto Chair 3 with her. She was all laughter and light, and I was completely smitten with this princess. As she fiddled with her white mother of pearl earrings, one fell to the snow at the base of Look Ma. I glanced down to see it bury itself in the powder below.

When we got to the top, our group wanted to head to Sundown Bowl. But I told them of the mishap and said we were on a mission to find an earring. So we all bolted back toward MidVail. As the first one on the scene, I remembered where to look. And against all odds, I did find that white earring in the snow. And for this impossible discovery, I was rewarded with a kiss.

We dated that January, and then I returned to school in San Diego. My princess moved from Vail to California that spring to be with me. Then upon our return to Vail in December of that year, I proposed to her at the Wildflower restaurant. We were married the next fall in San Diego, and once I finished school, we returned to Colorado.

Our ties to Vail led us to a condo at the Racquet Club and then a duplex in Eagle-Vail. We raised two sons, and they both learned to ski in the valley. Our careers took us away from Vail to Denver for several years. Our boys went on to college in Durango and now have careers of their own. So this past year, with an empty nest, we moved back to Eagle-Vail.

My princess still works in the ski clothing industry, and I am once again teaching skiing. The Valley has changed, and we have certainly changed, but not our passion for the powder. We were out there a couple of weeks ago on that epic Sunday with 15 inches of new snow. We rode up Chair 3 and both remembered a day 30 years ago when I found an earring in the snow. And found the love of my life.

— Mike and Denise Leigh, of Eagle-Vail, winners of a signed print No. 1/100 of “Powder Couple,” the latest collectible print from Signature Colorado; two VIP Passes to the Vail Film Festival; and a 50-minute couples massage from Allegria Spa.

Love’s a Cinch

It was a Tuesday in February 12 years ago, on a huge powder day, that I met my future husband on the Cinch lift at Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek had reported 14 inches and Vail only 8. So, everyone and their mother went to Beaver Creek, including me …

My parents were visiting from Pennsylvania. I had given my two-week notice at work that Monday. At the end of the day, boss said, “I think we oughta call it quits.” So, the next day, Tuesday, I should have been at work. Instead I was listening to words of wisdom from my mother, saying, “Let’s ski, enjoy the powder and bluebird skies and everything will work out just fine!”

So, we headed off to Beaver Creek (my mom’s favorite). Finding a parking spot was a challenge. We were about to give up and go to Vail when the old rodeo lot opened up and we scooted in and parked. We were off to enjoy this beautiful Colorado day with tons of fresh powder, along with every other powder hound. The line to Cinch was so long it extended way beyond the ropes. We got in line, and right away, there were two nice guys next to us. How nice, two and two make four … a perfect match for the chair! Little did I know I was riding with my perfect match!

My now husband quickly switched places with his friend so he would be sitting next to me. He says he was making it easier for his friend to be on the end with a snowboard. Ha! Cinch kept stopping, allowing us even more time for conversation. I was intrigued by his sense of adventure. Here we sat, helmets goggles, no idea what either of us looked like.

I remember thinking this guy is really awesome. We were approaching the end of our ride — oh no, this guy is going to ski off and I’ll never see him again! And then one chair from the top, Cinch conveniently stopped one last time. My heart was pounding, and without hesitating, I seized the opportunity and blurted out, “Would you like to go out sometime?” My husband loves to tease that I picked him up, but it’s really true!

On our second date, the words “I love you” were on the tip of my tongue. I think it was a few more dates I finally let the words out; I heard the same back from him! Ahh, what a relief, we both had the same feelings for each other.

Six months later, we were married. Had a ceremony, nowhere else but at Spruce Saddle at base of Cinch lift. We have been married for 11 years. We love skiing with our two boys, ages 7 and 9. We love our adventurous life in the mountains. Couldn’t imagine my life without this random Tuesday powder day!

— Laura and Shane Merlihan, of Eagle, winners of dinner for two at Maya in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and a 50-minute massage at Simply Massage.

Meet cute on Giant Steps

There she was. From the top of Pepi’s Face, I could see her down below. She was in the lift line for Chair 1, which used to be a double to the top of Giant Steps, the only way up. She was standing with a couple of guys from the University of Denver who I knew were really good skiers, so I assumed she must be pretty good, too. She had that same furry hat that she had on when I learned her name.

I had seen her in my Wednesday night art history class. She had that skier’s good look. But who was she? A big lecture of 100 students, the second night I decided I might find out if I sat in the very last row. Attendance was taken the old fashion way, by calling out each student’s name. When the professor finally got to the “O’s,” the hand of the furry hat went up. Wow!

There I was standing the very next Saturday at the top of Pepi’s, although it wasn’t called Pepi’s then as it is today. How was I going to meet her? What could I do? Well, I carved a few quick turns and skied right down to the lift line that stretched out across at the bottom of Giant Steps, and wow! I showered her in an immense rooster tail plume of snow only my Rossi 215s could do. As she turned to me, I said “Hello Judy” and without waiting for a response, I skated off to the singles line as fast as I could go, so embarrassed at what I’d done.

But I knew I had to do something special because the guys she was with were real hotshot skiers and powder hounds. And who was I? After all, she’d never met me and she’d probably never want to see me again. She asked who that was, and one of the guys replied, “That’s Jeff.”

The very next Wednesday after art history class, we met again and went for a cup of coffee — odd because neither of us drank coffee, especially late at night. Well, that coffee lasted for several hours into the night. She remembers we met Feb. 9, a few days before Valentine’s Day. We married and have skied together ever since. On most any Feb. 9, you might even find us on Giant Steps.

Thank you, Pete, Earl and everyone else who created this fabulous place. Thank you, Vail, for making love happen for us.

— Jeff and Judy Lovelace, of Essex, Connecticut, and Vail, winners of lunch for two at La Tour Restaurant in Vail Village and a bouquet of flowers from Cedar’s Flower Shop.

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