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

And now he gets to relearn the mountain he calls "the Mothership" in a whole new way: on a 'board. "I'm definitely seeing Buttermilk in a refreshing light," he says. But his all-time favorite run hasn't changed. "It's Javelin, over on the Tiehack side," he says. "It's got a real nice, consistently steep pitch, and it's always groomed to perfection. Real nice rolling, and there's a couple of big lone trees kind of scattered on the run. And every time I'm on it, it seems like I'm by myself." Next to Javelin is another of his top picks, Racer's Edge, which he considers to be the toughest run on the mountain. "Depending on conditions, you never know what it's going to throw at you," Semple says. "It's unbelievable."

Semple feels the same way about a cruiser run he links together. "Start at Buckskin, which takes you from the top and runs into Magic Carpet. That takes you all the way down to the bottom of lower Tiehack." A few other cruises he likes: Red's Rover, over on West Buttermilk, Ridge Trail and Jacob's Ladder. "There's also a nice network of tree trails," Semple says. "Mr. Bill and Devil's Gut are both faves of mine." And he calls Bear Jump a classic. "There's a single aspen up there that is scarred with bear-claw marks," he says. "Stop there and take the Bear Jump from there. If you start way higher up from there, you can do some great tricks, 'cause there's always lots of deep, deep snow." Semple says the deepest snow and secret powder stashes, however, are to be found in Timberdoodle Glade. "It's one of those glades where, if you fall in, we will never find you."

It's not hard to find what Semple says is the best-selling sandwich shop around. Called Johnny McGuire's (730 East Cooper Avenue), this deli is an old VW Bug with a pickle on top. "It's pretty popular with the younger crowd," Semple says. He adds that everyone thinks the Hickory House (730 West Main) smokes, with its casual, truck-stop atmosphere, and ditto for the Main Street Bakery (01 East Main). "You can hardly get in the door, it's always so crowded at Main Street," he says. He thinks he probably eats most often, though, at Takah Sushi (420 East Hyman Avenue). "The owner is the hostess," he says, "and she is just the most beautiful person, really warm and friendly. And it's great to see the sushi chefs out skiing on the mountain all the time." For Italian, he loves the early specials at the Italian Caviar--"Heavy on the garlic," he adds--and in the space above it, the Tippler (535 Dean) is a must for Tuesday-night disco. "It's one of the things you just can't miss," he says. Also at night, the Flying Dog Brewpub (424 East Cooper Avenue) is a good bet to find locals, but he personally prefers the more sophisticated scene in the bar at the Hotel Jerome (330 East Main). "I guess I'm getting old," he sighs.

When he does stay out late, the Popcorn Wagon is the after-hours site. "They have awesome spinach crepes and these fried pita-bread things filled with vegetables," Semple says. "And they've got a killer chili dog and a flaming chocolate crepe. And, as you can imagine, there's a pretty raucous crowd."

General information: 1-800-525-6200 or
1-970-925-9000
Snow report: 1-970-925-1221
Location: 218 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.
Opening and closing dates: December 14 to April 6.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Terrain: 35% beginner, 39% intermediate, 26% advanced. 2,030' vertical drop. Base: 7,870'; top: 9,900'; longest run: 3 miles.

Lifts: 1 high-speed quad, 5 double chairs, 1 handle tow.
Lift rates: Adult full-day $56; age 18-27 full-day $39; child under 18 full-day $33. Early-season prices available.

Lessons: Call 1-800-525-6200 or 1-303-262-7736 for information.
Rentals: Buttermilk Sports at base of mountain.
Snowboarding: Welcome. Half-pipe and snowboard park. Lessons and rentals available.

Cross-country: Call 1-970-925-1220 for information.
Special events: 'Boarderfest, Dec. 14-15.

Copper Mountain Resort
Shawna Martin credits her boyfriend, Seth Lawrence, with making it possible for her to ski at Copper for the past three years--Lawrence's parents live in Frisco, and when the snow starts coming down, Martin goes to live with the Lawrences for a few months. "Seth stays in Denver, where we have this groovy apartment," Martin says. "He drives up on the weekends, and it's great." Martin is a housepainter, so she works only during the warmer months. "When I'm working, though, I'm really working," she says. "I put in fourteen-hour days, and I only take a day off every few weeks. I just schedule the jobs back-to-back."

The work pays off in more ways than one, however: The grueling task of painting houses inside and out puts her in powerful shape to ski Copper nearly every day during the season. And she says she needs extra energy to take on the trees in Spaulding Bowl. "When there's fresh powder," Martin says, "that area is stashed-out. In all those tight trees you get pockets of fluffy stuff, especially at the top of Spaulding Glades, where the wind will push it in." She adds that you can get into some good trees to skier's left of Far East, where she likes the workout on this black diamond that she says is best early in the season, and she also relishes popping into 17 Glade, off Collage.

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