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The Edge

Westword's guide to the 1997-98 ski and snowboard season

On the higher end, Phares likes Legends (76 Avondale Ln. in Avon). "They have a great banana split," he says, "and it's high-end but casual, sort of haute Southwestern." But his "all-around favorite fine dining" comes from Zeno's (River Center Building in Edwards) for Northern Italian. "It's owned by the same people who own Sweet Basil," he says. For red-sauce Italian, though, Phares likes Marco's (Edwards Plaza) because "it's homey and reasonably priced."

But at night, he says the place to hang out is at the fire pit at the Hyatt. "You can roast marshmallows, and they have a storyteller," he says. "You'd think just kids would be into it, but it's always mostly adults."

General Information: 1-970-949-5750.
Snow Report: 1-970-476-4888.
Location: 110 miles west of Denver via I-70 (exit 167).
Opening and Closing Dates: November 22 to April 19.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Terrain: 34% beginner, 39% intermediate, 27% expert. 1,625 skiable acres with a 4,040' vertical drop. Base: 8,100'; top: 11,440'; longest run: 2.75 miles.

Lifts: 6 high-speed quads, 3 triple chairs, 4 double chairs, 1 surface lift.
Lift Rates: Adult full-day $54-56; child full-day $25; child under 4 free; senior 65-69 $45; senior over 70 free. Beaver Creek pass also includes Vail, Keystone and Breckenridge.

Rentals: 1-800-525-2257.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call Beaver Creek Cross-Country at 1-970-845-5313.

Special Events: Chevy Trucks International Ski Festival, Dec. 2-7; Men's World Cup Downhill, Dec. 6; Delaney Snowboarding Camp, Dec. 6-7; American Ski Classic, March 4-8; 5th Annual Snowshoe Shuffle, April 4.

Breckenridge Ski Resort
Until she moved to Breckenridge in 1988, Jennifer Losch had lived in a different place nearly every year of her life. "My dad's a metallurgical engineer," she explains. "It's the kind of job that you have to go where the work is."

Since she's lived mostly in Colorado, though, she's quite familiar with all of the ski areas. "I've lived in Dillon, Vail, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek, Evergreen, Telluride--you name it," the 26-year-old says. "I was two in Telluride, and that's when I first skied, but then we moved away to the Virgin Islands and Texas, so I didn't ski again until I was seven." And then she was hooked, so much so that she set her sights on becoming a ski instructor, which she's been since she was seventeen. "I thought about going to college, but I wasn't sure that I wanted to start my adult life in debt," she says. "So I started at [the now-defunct] Ski Broadmoor, which was run by Vail, and then I came to Breckenridge. It's one of the easier ski areas to find a place to live, and it's still close to a major city."

Losch is a fully certified ski instructor, which means she can teach all ages. And now that Vail Resorts has purchased every mountain area it could get its hands on, she can ski Beaver Creek and Arrowhead, Vail and Keystone, but her first choice is always Breckenridge. "There's more expert skiing here," she declares. "And the temps are colder, which can equal better snow, depending on what you're looking for. And while the runs are shorter, they're steeper than most."

Losch does have a favorite long run, though: Crystal, on Peak 10, right under the chair. "It's almost always groomed every morning," she says. "Beautiful corduroy, nonstop cruising. I love the front side of Peak 10 all around for early-morning skiing. It's a good place to get it together for the rest of the day."

Once you've gotten it together, Losch suggests heading over to Little Johnny, a black run that's "not waist-deep and not really flat; fun, but not the huge, gnarly bumps." For the huge gnarlies, Losch says to speed over to Mach 1, on Peak 8. "We just put snowmaking on that run this year, and we're going to hold the Freestyle Moguls Comps on it," she adds. "And adjacent to the Mach is another choice mogul run, the double-black Tiger."

For those in the more intermediate range, Losch endorses Duke's Run and Crescendo on Peak 8 as good transitional runs from blue to black skiing. "They groom half on both of them and let the other half bump up," she explains. "So you've got an escape route." She says that most of Peak 8 offers solid intermediate skiing, with its share of harder greens, blue-blacks and easier blacks. "It's the south side of Peak 8 where you find the tougher stuff," she adds. And the lower half of Peak 9 is for beginners; Losch believes there's nice teaching terrain off Quicksilver--and she should know.

But for the "really sick and gnarly stuff," Losch says to try the National Forest access off the north side of Peak 9, or the slightly tamer but still tight trees at The Windows. And she thinks The Burn on Peak 10 is hot. "The Burn is the whole north side of 10," she elaborates. "There's a whole great gladed area for trees." And on both Peak 9 and Peak 10, Losch says, there's plenty of air, tree stumps and cruising terrain for snowboarders.

After a hard day on the slopes, Losch likes to unwind during happy hour at Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina (600 S. Park St.). "They usually serve chips and nachos with beer specials," she says, adding that they also have good chiles rellenos and authentic Mexican seafood. And, according to Losch, a good place for right after skiing, near the hill and across the street from Mi Casa, is the Fajitas Bar & Grill (at the base of Peak 9 in Breckenridge Village). "It's more Tex-Mex, soft-wrapped tacos, chips and dips--a great place to get a quick lunch. Fajitas are $3.50 to $4, and you can get that with chips and guac and have a $5 lunch within five minutes."

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