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

But as the father of two, Chelsea, eleven, and Courtney, six, Gould thinks Silver Creek is just fine. "I feel very comfortable with them there," he says. "I could let Chelsea go off in third grade with her friends and know that everyone knows her and keeps an eye out for the kids. When I really need to let loose and ski myself, I just head over to Winter Park. There's even a free shuttle from Silver Creek if I don't feel like driving."

When he does stick around at Silver Creek, he's sure to be found on either Sleepwalker or Widowmaker. "Widowmaker is fairly steep and bumpy, and it's probably the toughest run," Gould says. "It's really the only one that gets bumped up at all. And it's a blue that makes you feel good." He also enjoys the high-speed cruising on Conquest and Dragon Lady, but he says there's really no tree skiing to be found at Silver Creek.

There is, however, some bargain dining to be had, especially in Granby, one mile from the mountain. "I like Mad Munchies (420 East Agate Avenue) for lunch," Gould says. "It's a real good sub shop, and they also have pizza. No doubt it's a local favorite." He also adores the bagel club sandwiches at The Sunrise Grill (729 West Agate Avenue), which serves "tasty yogurt parfaits and Belgian waffles." German food is on the menu at The Long Branch (185 East Agate Avenue), which is run by a German couple. "They have Warsteiner beer on tap," Gould says. "The food is authentic all the way." But the all-around best food in the county, according to Gould, is found at Caroline's Cuisine (9921 U.S. Highway 34 in Grand Lake). "It's more in the $15 to $20 entree range, but worth every penny," he says. And The Mountain Inn (612 Grand Avenue), also in Grand Lake, is another of his top picks for its family-style dining and chicken-fried steak. "If you order mashed potatoes, you get to ask for more," he says.

If he's heading home from Winter Park, Gould says a stop at Hernando's Pizza (78199 U.S. Highway 40) is a must. And if he's heading into Winter Park early in the morning, he leaves extra time for The Kitchen (78199 U.S. Highway 40). "It takes all morning to eat breakfast there," he says. "It gets so busy, they put numbers on your car for you to wait outside. But it's great food, and you can get a beer with your breakfast. There's nothing like huevos with a Corona to get the day started," Gould notes. In Grand Lake, he gets his beer at The Lariat Saloon (1121 Grand Avenue)--"It's real redneck fun," he says--and in Granby, he puts a few away at The Silver Spur (15 East Agate Avenue). "That's another redneck outfit," he says. "You'll pay a buck, a buck-fifty for draws of beer. And you're bound to make some interesting friends."

General information: 1-800-754-7458, 1-970-887-3384 or 1-970-629-1020.
Snow report: 1-800-754-7458
Location: 78 miles northwest of Denver via I-70 (exit 232) and U.S. Hwy. 40 west.

Opening and closing dates: November 27 to April 13.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Terrain: 30% beginner, 50% intermediate, 20% advanced. 252 developed acres with a 1,000' vertical drop. Base: 8,202'; top: 9,202'; longest run: 1.5 miles.

Lifts: 2 triple chairs, 1 double chair, 1 Poma lift, 1 surface lift.
Lift rates: Adult full-day $32, half-day $26; child (6-12) full-day $18, half-day $16; senior (62-69) $18; 5 and under/70 and over ski free. Family Skiing Passport: mom, dad and two kids ski all day for $84.

Lessons: Group lessons $26 for 1 3/4 hours. Private lesson $50/hour. Package includes lesson, all-mountain lift ticket and rental for $50. For information call 1-800-754-7458.

Rentals: Adult $13; child $7.
Snowboarding: Welcome. Half-pipe. Rentals available.
Cross-country: Silver Creek Cross-Country Center has 40 km of groomed trails. Lessons and rentals available. Trail fee $8. Other trails nearby. For information call 1-970-887-2152, 1-970-726-8231 or 1-970-627-8008.

Special events: Snowbiking, snowmobiling and snowshoeing located at base of ski area. Ice skating, sleigh rides and tubing nearby. Ski with Santa, Dec. 21-23; Torchlight Ski Down, Dec. 31; Girl Scout Cookie Days, Feb. 22-23; 13th Annual Fireman's Feud Race, Mar. 8.

Ski Cooper
When Audie Mullings moved from Climax to West Park in Leadville in 1961, she got to bring her house with her. "They shut down the mines and moved all the houses," she says. "There was a ski area there, too, but they shut it down when everyone moved." So Mullings, 66, transferred her allegiance to Ski Cooper, where she's been skiing for more than forty years and where she now serves as the pro patrol director. "I didn't exactly retire," she says. "And at my age, I tend to be a little more careful. You kind of start to like your bones the way they are and want to keep them that way. But being on patrol gets me out of bed in the morning, and it's a constant challenge."

For a challenge on the mountain, Mullings looks to Homestake. "There's some trees," she says. "It's really nice in there, too, and it gets some good powder." All the kids go to Timberbash, she says, but she prefers Nightmare because "it's steeper and more wide-open." She adds, "I don't particularly like the real bumpy runs. The knees are a little bit gone, you know." To go easy on them but still get a rattle, she goes with Slot or Burnout, where "the upper part is steep but the rest is a good cruiser. But Kamikazee is the steepest," she says. To get to the really difficult runs at Cooper, Mullings suggests that skiers take the 'Cat tour up on Chicago Ridge. "That's where they'll find the trees, the steeps, just about a little bit of everything," she says. That's also where she recommends that snowboarders go. "We try to encourage them to use the terrain park," she says. "But they're allowed to go anywhere, and really, they're all over. They manage to find the jumps and such all over the place."

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