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

Also on Peak 8, LaFonte feels lucky to have Horseshoe Bowl because of its steep wideness. Peak 9 has the racecourse to get up some cruise speeds, she says, and on Peak 10, the trees that make up The Burn are "widely spaced and excellent. Boy, is it a burn. Oh, my God."

For air, LaFonte reaches into the top of Psychopath. Or she heads for the "couple of rocks in Horseshoe Bowl that are fun to jump off." In general, though, she says there's not a lot of air to be had at Breckenridge. "Yeah, I'd take the hits off the top of Horseshoe, which is fun anyway, and then you get down to the bottleneck part where it gets steep and bumped up. That's a good ride." Also, she says, "there are a couple of hits at Saddleback on the south side of Peak 10." And anytime she wants to be alone on any of the Peaks, she makes for the trees. "I find that so few people want to take on the trees here," she says. "There are just so many untouched stashes in there."

You're guaranteed not to be alone Downstairs at Eric's (111 South Main), however. "It's one of my faves," LaFonte says. "They've got burgers and pizza, but they're really known for their pizza. And they've got like a hundred beers on tap." She says that another good burger can be had at the Breckenridge Brewery (600 South Main)--"good chicken wings, too, and a drink special every night." The place to go for breakfast after a night at the brewpub is the Blue Moose (540 South Main), right next door. "You see it in a drunken haze the night before while you're leaving the Brewery," LaFonte says. "The Moose has good egg burritos and good chiles, and they also do nice things with potatoes and eggs and vegetables."

More "super-good" Mexican food is available at Mi Casa (600 South Park Avenue). "Delicious and cheap," LaFonte says. Likewise a value is the Main Street Bistro (216 South Main), with its "super-simple menu on the wall," LaFonte says. "They offer five pastas and five sauces, a specialty bread and salad, and then they have a decent wine list. The entrees are under ten bucks, which is pretty good for a ski town." She mentions that Breckenridge actually felt like a real town when Jackson's Sushi House (318 North Main) came in. "Sushi!" she exclaims. "We were like, 'Whoa, we have sushi!' Everyone was so stoked, and it's really good sushi, too."

But nothing's as good as LaFonte's favorite dish in town, the eggs Benedict at The Horseshoe (115 South Main). "You will die when you try these," she says.

General information: 1-970-453-5000
Snow report: 1-970-453-6118
Location: 104 miles west of Denver via I-70 (exit 203). Colo. Hwy. 9 to Breckenridge.

Opening and closing dates: October 25 to late May.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Terrain: 15% beginner, 19%

intermediate, 31% advanced, 35% expert. 2,031 developed acres with a 3,398' vertical drop. Base: 9,600'; top: 12,998'; longest run: 3.5 miles.

Lifts: 4 high-speed quads, 1 triple chair, 9 double chairs, 4 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: Adult full-day lesson with beginner lift ticket $54; full-day lesson with all-mountain lift ticket $83; children: full-day lesson, lunch and all-mountain lift ticket $64. Private lessons and special clinics available.

Rentals: Call 1-970-453-5000 for rental shop.
Snowboarding: Welcome. Half-pipe and terrain garden. Lessons available.
Cross-country: The Breckenridge Nordic Center has 50 km of groomed trails. Call 1-970-453-6855 for more information.

Special events: Ice skating, snow skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, sleigh rides, dog sledding, sledding; NASTAR races daily; Alpine World Cup, Nov. 24-30; Hot Air Balloon Festival, Nov. 27-30; Disabled Sports USA Ski Spectacular, Dec. 9-14; International Snow Sculpture Championships, Jan. 7-11; Ullr Festival, Jan. 20-26; Breckenridge World Cup Freestyle, Jan. 23-26; ; The Senior Games of the Summit, Feb. 2-4; The American Airlines Celebrity Ski, Mar. 7-9; Breckenridge Beach Daze, April 1-30.

When people ask Lorenzo Semple III what brought him to Aspen, he always answers, "My parents' green Volvo station wagon." Twenty years later the Volvo's gone, but Semple's still here. He was nine when his screenwriter father decided Aspen would be a better place for his family to grow up in than Los Angeles--and Semple says Father knew best. "I rode my bike to school, and I could walk around anywhere without my parents worrying that anything could happen to me," Semple says. "We were going to live here for a year, but it was too good to leave." And while Semple has been on all of Aspen's mountains, it was on Buttermilk that he first learned to ski--and it was to Buttermilk that he returned when he decided to learn how to snowboard last December during the first 'Boarderfest, when Buttermilk shut down to all but 'boarders in an attempt to attract newcomers to the sport.

It certainly worked on Semple. While he still intends to ski--and telemark and snowshoe--snowboarding has changed his life. "I was so anti-'boarding," says Semple, who has started his own company, Suit Yourself, the first operation to offer winter-sport clothing rentals in the Aspen area. "But so many of my friends were doing it, I was getting confused and feeling left out. And so then I went to the 'Boarderfest, and it was as if I'd had an out-of-body experience. It was almost spiritual."

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