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

Opening and closing dates: November 27 to April 6.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Terrain: 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced. 440 developed acres with a 2,010' vertical drop. Base: 7,885'; top: 9,895'; longest run: 2.5 miles.

Lifts: 1 triple chair, 2 double chairs, 1 surface lift.
Lift rates: Adult full-day $28; child (6-12) full-day $18; 5 and under/70 and over ski free.

Lessons: Group and private lessons available. Call 1-970-945-7491 for information.

Rentals: Skiing and snowboarding equipment available. Call 1-970-945-7491 for information.

Snowboarding: Welcome. New and improved snowboard park including rails, slides, jumps, half-pipe, and fun box. Lessons and rentals available.

Cross-country: The Sunlight Mountain Resort's Cross-Country and Nordic Center has 10 km of groomed trails. Lessons and rentals available.

Special events: Snowmobiling, snowboarding, and ice skating.

Telluride Ski Resort
For fourteen years Rube Felicelli's best friend tried to get him to move to Telluride from Aspen, where he'd lived since 1976. Six years ago his friend won. "I really appreciated his persistence," says Felicelli, who now works for his friend buying ski equipment and bikes at Telluride Sports. "What makes Telluride so special is that it's so hard to get to. Once you do get here, you appreciate it and see why it's so special."

Felicelli thinks the mountain, too, is special, mainly because it has so much expert terrain available. "The intermediate stuff gets way overshadowed by the beginner and expert stuff," Felicelli says. "They have plans to add more intermediate runs, but it'll still be an expert's dream."

What Felicelli dreams of on powder days is Apex glade. "The trees on Lift 6 are really nice," he says. "Very good stashes. I can usually get in there and find places that aren't tracked up." He adds that the beauty of Telluride is that none of the slopes are crowded, but "among the better skiers, there's a bit of competition on the good runs." One such popular place is Bushwacker. "There's nothing like it, particularly when it's freshly groomed. Get some big GS skis under your feet, and you're out there," Felicelli says. "There is no other slope that's that steep, wide, long and has such a sustained pitch for its length." Also steep is Mammoth or the Spiral Stairs, both of which "are good bump runs that have a good rhythm," Felicelli says. "They're steep enough that you can use gravity to your advantage." And between Mammoth and Kant-Mak-M are the Mak-M trees. "Just come right down Mammoth and cut over into the tree area," he explains. "That's some tough stuff."

That's not to say there isn't anything for the intermediate to be found at Telluride. "Somebody solidly intermediate looking for a challenge that won't kill them should go to the Lift 5 area," Felicelli says. "Palmyra is a good one, and then I recommend going over to the Plunge off Lift 9. That's more advanced, but the beauty of it is that they only groom half of it, so if you want bumps, you got bumps. If you want a nice fall line and a nice steep pitch, you've got that, too." Also off Lift 9 is an area popular with snowboarders, Felicelli says, most notably on Mammoth and Kant-Mak-M. "The 'boarders also like to go off Lift 6," he says. "Most of the snowboarders I've experienced here come from having skied before, so they know what they're getting into over there."

Everyone gets into the apres-ski at Leimgruber's Bierstub and Restaurant (573 West Pacific Avenue), which Felicelli calls "the place that's been there for a while and has stayed friendly to all." The Cosmopolitan Restaurant (300 West San Juan Avenue), which Felicelli calls "Cosmo's," opened up just last year, but it's already garnered a following among "nouvelle-cuisine types," he says. "It's the chef from Beano's Cabin in Vail, so you know the food's good." The well-known local spots for a burger are Garfinkle's (101 East Colorado Avenue) and The Floradora (103 West Colorado Avenue), and for breakfast, Telluride goes Mexican at Sofia's (110 East Colorado Avenue) or to the Excelsior (200 West Colorado Avenue). The Excelsior also does some "pretty reasonable Italian, with a nice menu," Felicelli says. "But the best Italian in town is at The Powder House [226 West Colorado Avenue]. My parents are Italian, and I took them there when they came to visit. They said, 'This is better than New York.'"

General information: 1-800-525-3455
Snow report: 1-970-728-7425
Location: 335 miles southwest of Denver via

I-70 to Grand Junction, Colo. Hwy. 50 south, Colo. Hwy. 550 to Ridgeway, Colo. Hwy. 62 and Colo. Hwy. 145 into Telluride.

Opening and closing dates: November 27 to April 13.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Terrain: 21% beginner, 47% intermediate, 32% advanced. 1,050 skiable acres with a 3,165' vertical drop. Base: 8,725'; top: 11,890'; longest run: 2.85 miles.

Lifts: 2 high-speed quads, 5 double chairs, 2 triple chairs, 1 Poma lift, 1 Magic Carpet, 1 gondola transportation system.

Lift rates: Adult full-day $45, half-day $36; child (6-12) and senior (65-69) full-day $26, half-day $20; 5 and under/70 and over ski free. Early/late season prices available.

Lessons: Group lessons $40. Beginner ski clinic: 5-hour lesson, lift ticket and rental $70. Private lesson: full-day $380, half-day $200, one-hour $75.

Rentals: Adult $20; child $13. Snowboard rental $27.
Snowboarding: Welcome. First-time snowboarding special: lift ticket, lesson and rental $75. Snowboard park with half-pipes and tabletops.

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