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Westword's Guide to teh '96-'97 ski and snowboard season

Those looking for more of a fight should hit "The Hoot," as it's known locally. "It's really the Last Hoot," Koury says. "It's on Keystone, too, and it's a short run, but worth it. The face of the Hoot is really tough." Her favorite challenge, however, is Powder Cap, which she calls a well-kept secret. "It's a bump run on North Peak," she says. "You have to take two runs to get there, and most people ski right by it. So not many people drop in, and it gets these bumps that always seem to be perfect. They have a nice consistency, a good pitch. By the end of the run, your legs are burning, but it hurts so good."

Also on North Peak is Koury's selection for best trees: the Glades. "I'm not real big on tree skiing, but you can get in there and still get out if you want to," she says. "If you go in farther, you'll find plenty of powder stashed away." And she doesn't think too many people are aware of Mineshaft, a blue run skiers can drop into on Keystone. "It's a more difficult bump run," she explains. She adds that intermediates feeling brave can give Go Devil a try without too many other eyes catching any mistakes they make. "The upper half's a mogul field," she says. "Or you can just take the last half where the pitch isn't as steep. But the snow's always good, because most people seem to drop into the run that goes off Go Devil. If you're into bumps, you'll definitely want to torture your legs on the upper part."

When she feels like pampering her legs, or if she wants to treat a girlfriend to a special lunch, Koury says she eats lunch at The Stube, located on the Outback portion of Keystone. "You have to eat lunch there, because it's way too expensive for dinner on my budget," she says. "But at lunch they have slippers for you to put on after you take off your ski boots, and they just treat you wonderfully. It's such a treat. And if you want to meet someone there who doesn't ski, they can take the gondola." Off the mountain, Ristorante Al Lago (240 Lake Dillon Drive) in Dillon is one of her top choices for dinner. In Silverthorne, she likes the Sunshine Cafe (Summit Shopping Place) for "huge breakfasts that are a good value for a family" and first-rate burgers, especially the "Alfred Packer." And the owners of her pick for Chinese, China Cafe (U.S. Highway 6 South) in Keystone, just opened a second location in Silverthorne called China Gourmet (102 Annie Road). "It's the best Chinese anywhere," Koury says. And while families make up a large percentage of the clientele at Pug Ryan's (104 Village Place), Koury thinks the prime-rib purveyor has started to attract a younger crowd as well, notably during happy hour.

Another local watering hole is The Pub Down Under, a "comfy" spot below the Arapahoe Cafe (626 Dillon Lake Drive), which Koury says serves basic American food, "like the Sunshine." For Italian, she likes Antonia's (817 U.S. Highway 6) in Dillon, and it's to either Frisco or Silverthorne that she heads for pizza at Matteo's (106 Third Avenue in Frisco; 122 West Tenth in Silverthorne).

"For families, though, that don't want to hike around to one of the towns, I'd have to say Soup's On, at the top of the mountain, is exceptionally well-priced," Koury says. "I can tell you from firsthand experience that the kids love it, and everyone gets a good, filling meal."

General information: 1-800-468-5004 or 1-970-496-4242
Snow report: 1-970-468-4111
Location: 90 miles west of Denver via I-70 to exit 205 at Dillon, 6 miles east on Hwy. 6 to Keystone.

Opening and closing dates: October 21 to early May.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Night skiing beginning November 18 until 9 p.m.
Terrain: 13% beginner, 36% intermediate, 51% advanced. 1,749 skiable acres with a 2,900' vertical drop. Base: 9,300'; top: 12,200'; longest run: 3 miles.

Lifts: 2 high-speed gondolas, 3 high-speed quads, 1 quad chair, 3 triple chairs, 6 double chairs, 5 surface lifts.

Lift rates: Adult full-day TBA, 2 days $78; child (6-14) full-day TBA, 2 days $24; 5 and under/70 and over ski free.

Lessons: Group lesson $36 for 2.5 hours. Lesson with beginner lift ticket $45; lesson with all-mountain ticket $74. Private lessons $75/hour. Call 1-800-258-9553 for more information.

Rentals: Adult full-day $17; child full-day $11.
Snowboarding: Welcome. Lessons and rentals available.
Cross-country: Keystone Nordic Center. Call 1-970-496-4275 or 1-800-238-9553 for more information.

Special events: Kid's Snowboard Camp, Nov. 28-30; Women's Skiing Seminar, Dec. 14-16; Cross Country Full-Moon Tour, Dec. 23; MCI Downhill Relays, Jan. 31-Feb. 1; Chevrolet Ski Carnival, Feb. 7-9; U.S. Women's Pro Ski Tour, Mar. 29-30.

Loveland Ski Areas
A lot of people make sacrifices for their mountain of choice, but Pip Baehler probably beats most of them. "I lost my car in an avalanche," Baehler says, without a trace of regret. "Hey, it's just a car."

And it's not as if he didn't know it could happen. Baehler is assistant director of the ski patrol in Loveland--he's been on patrol there for thirteen years--and he and some other patrollers were blasting an area last season that had started to look dangerous. "We were trying to get it to settle down in there," he recalls. "This was clear out-of-bounds, but it was above a spot where people like to cut the ropes. It was going to come down one way or another, so our intention was to control it. Yeah, right. All of a sudden there was this powder cloud, and it was obvious the thing was way bigger than we intended. My car was parked in the lot way below, but I looked at this other guy standing with me and I said, 'I'll bet you that just totaled my car.'" Sure enough, Baehler says that when the air cleared and they reached his Honda Civic, it was exactly two feet tall. "Talk about your lowrider," he says, laughing.

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