Monday, November 23, 2009

Free fun at Colorado Resorts

Skiing/snowboarding may be relatively expensive, but there are ways to soften the blow once you're at the resort. For example, free mountain tours are offered at nearly every major resort in Colorado. Here are some more examples of free fun:

First Tracks is a free amenity that gets you on the slopes before the masses. Reserve a spot by calling 970-923-056 at Snowmass or 970-925-1220 x3543 at Aspen. Grab a free morning cup 'o joe at the base of the mountains and hot cider at the top of the lifts. Snowsports Events like X Games or Word Cup races are free to spectators as are Concerts in the once-a-month Bud Light series.

Copper Mountain
Snowcat rides are free for skiing/riding on Tucker Mountain from 10-1:30 on certain days. Snowshoe tours are free and use of Redfeather Snowshoes and poles is also complimentary. Ice Skating with your own skates is free on West Lake rink, or you can join in curling and a game of broomball.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Enjoy cookies and hot chocolate at the base area on weekends and holidays.

Echo Mountain
Lift tickets for kids 5 and younger are free when an adult buys a ticket and for all seniors 75 and older. Plus, Colorado Gem cardholders can get a free lift ticket between Dec. 2-18, 2009 or April 1-16, 2010.

Snowshoeing and X-Country Skiing at the Nordic Center are free to season pass holders. Kids who need a break can warm up, rest and hang out with a movie at the Children's Center at no charge.

Helmets are provided for all kids in lessons. Lift tickets are free to kids 5 and younger, and all beginners who buy a 3-Class pass for lessons will get a free season pass.

Lift tickets are free to kids 6 and younger and seniors 69 and older. Colorado Gems cardholders get one free day in April.

Earn you turns by boot-packing the snow ala 1950s. Show up on any of the four scheduled days with a beacon, shovel and probe and earn a free day for each day you work.

Ski Cooper
One free lift ticket on weekdays during March for Colorado Gems cardholders.

When booking through Central Reservations you can get: Free lift tickets when booking early season (11/25-12/18) and late season (4/4-11) packages; a free airline ticket for kids 12 and younger for each adult ticket purchased; one free lift ticket for kids 12 and younger for each regular-priced five-or-more-day adult lift ticket; and one free rental for kids 12 and younger for each five-day adult rental.


There's plenty of free cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding in and around the town.

Vail Resorts (Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail)
These resorts will give you free equipment rentals with the purchase of lodging.

Wolf Creek
Free racing, equipment storage and online carpooling service are offered to all skiers and riders.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Wear a helmet!

Mandatory Helmets
Vail Resorts took the lead in requiring all employees of its five mountains - Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly in California - to wear helmets as part of their uniforms. In addition, all children 12 and younger in lessons must wear helmets. And the head gear will be a required part of any child's equipment rental package at all of Vail Resorts' rental and retail stores. A parent or legal guardian can sign a waiver to decline helmet use, but what parent in their right mind would do that! The company also is recommending the use of helmets for all skiers and snowboarders on its slopes.

I applaud the ski company for taking a bold stand on this safety issue. As the leading mountain resort operator in the U.S., it no doubt sets an example that I believe other resorts will follow.

What do you think? Are they going too far? Do you wear a helmet? Are you for or against mandatory helmet use? I know a lot of instructors (mostly men) who think they are invincible when I comes to protecting their noggin and will take exception to this new rule.

Could the tragic death of Natasha Richardson at Mount Tremblant in Canada have been prevented if she were wearing a helmet? Experts say helmets help prevent head injury mostly when skiers travel 12-17 MPH - fairly slowly. Richardson was in a beginner class, so chances are she was within that range.

I started wearing this helmet years ago and have never regretted it. I've taken several falls where I've hit my head hard, and really believe that my helmet prevented any kind of injury. Yes, it takes away that wind-in-your-hair sexy sensation of skiing fast, but your brain is your life, so protect it! The picture was taken on Cresta D'Arp in Italy, 2004. I was amazed at the time that few Europeans wore helmets, but I've read that recent accidents and deaths have shaken them into the realization that it's a good thing to do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whistler's Peak 2 Peak Gondola

If you haven't been wowed at Whistler on the new Peak 2 Peak Gondola, head up there this winter for a spectacular ride.

I rode it last season shortly after it opened. It was like being suspended in the sky like a hot air balloon—quiet, gentle, with no feeling of motion. Truly amazing, and yes, it was a bit scary since we were so high above the valley floor. A break in the clouds let the sun shine on the tops of the enormous pine trees waaaaay down below. It took 11 minutes to travel the nearly 3 air miles between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains—the world's longest unsupported span between two towers, and the highest (1,427 feet!). Two of the cars have glass bottoms for viewing the terrain right under your feet (railings around the glass protect it).

Here's the video of my ride last January, courtesy of Chris Elliott, travel writer and editor of

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Yoga for Skiing

Since I've been practicing yoga, I've noticed an improvement in balance and leg strength while I'm skiing. My yoga instructor Josh McGirk in Denver explains why: "Certain poses like Chair Pose and Warrior I and II are excellent for building strength and endurance in the legs for downhill skiing," he says. "Strong legs translate to shorter recovery time, reduced muscualr soreness and more effective skiing."

In addition, the breath control one learns in yoga practice helps with endurance and increased oxygen delivered to working muscles, McGirk says. "Increased oxygen transfer also reduces muscle fatigue and increases effective caloric consumption."

"Tree Pose, Dancer's Pose and Eagle Pose improve balance, which can reduce falls and increase ankle, knee and hip flexibility and range of motion," he says. Have you ever watched a beautiful skier carve perfect silky turns in the snow? That's balance and strength at work!

Core strength is needed for bump skiing. The way to get that is through Boat Pose, Bow Pose and Bridge Pose, McGirk says. "These all are fantastic core strengtheners, and we know how important a strong core is to successful skiing"

Poses like Crocodile, Side Plank, Tabletop or Reverse Plank, and Downward Facing Dog are excellent for shoulder strength, helpful in lifting yourself up after a fall.

There's no question that Yoga should be part of your ski training regime. For more Yoga/skiing connections, contact Josh at or visit his website