The Edge

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

For air, Mattis believes there's no better place than the Snowboard Park. "It's on the left hand coming down main, and it's probably one of the best, most well-designed parks that I've ever been through," he says. "What's good about it is, you don't have to be an expert, and it's got big air jumps and smaller jumps. You can go off the sides and edges, and it'll accommodate all levels of snowboarders."

If he has any complaint about the Tiehack side, however, it's that there's no place to eat. "So as far as hangouts for snowboarders go, the younger kids hang out at the Popcorn Wagon [at the mountain]. The older 'boarders get off the mountain and go into town." Once there himself, Su Casa (315 E. Hyman Ave.) is one of his favorite spots, and for dancing, the 'boarders go to the "dark, alternative/techno" Freedom (426 E. Hyman Ave.) or, across the street, Club Soda (419 E. Hyman Ave.). When that's over, he says, "everyone goes to New York Pizza [409 E. Hyman Ave.] on the Club Soda side because it's open until, like, 2:30 or 3 in the morning."

If he's up in time for breakfast the next morning, Mattis says the Hickory House (730 W. Main St.) smokes for tons of cheap, good food. "The coffee's real good there, too," he adds. "The guy who owns it is famous for his barbecue sauce, 'cause it's really a barbecue joint, and at night he serves killer ribs and chicken. But if you can get yourself up before noon, the breakfast rules."

Mid-day, Mattis likes to stop in at Little Ollie's (308 S. Hunter), a Chinese restaurant that has a lunch menu that's "very affordable for locals, like $4.95, and there's a list of twelve different things you can choose from, and you're hard-pressed to eat the whole thing," he says. "And you can get it to go, and they'll have it ready in ten minutes. It's a very good deal for Aspen." He also likes Cafe Ink (520 E. Durant Ave.) and Little Annie's Eating House (517 E. Hyman Ave.) for affordable lunches and "hefty sandwiches," and he thinks Boogie's Diner (534 E. Cooper Ave.) is another quickie.

As a 'boarder always looking for a deal, Mattis says Little Annie's is a bargain for dinner, and for Italian "in my price range, there's a bar called Cooper Street [508 E. Cooper Ave.]. Right underneath it is Lucci's, which has totally affordable Italian like lasagne and chicken parmigiana," he says. Cooper Street is a favorite for several other reasons: A burger and a beer costs $5, which is "great for apres-ski, and if it's a nice day, the sun beams right in and it gets nice and warm," he says. "It's also the only bar in town where you can catch a smoke." He adds that Cooper Street doesn't get a lot of out-of-towners, and because it's one of the original buildings in town, it has retained the kind of divey, comfortable neighborhood-bar atmosphere that is hard to come by in upscale Aspen. "Upstairs they have pool tables and a dartboard, and it's the only cool bar open in the off-season," Mattis says. "If you can't afford the nice places, even during the season, drafts of Coors Extra Gold are 75 cents at Cooper Street."

Another good deal comes from The Mountain Dragon (67 Elbert Ln.), in Snowmass. "It's a pretty decent Chinese place, but during the season you can go in at 4 p.m. and get free hors d'oeuvre, like fried green peppers and chicken wings, egg rolls," Mattis says. "There are pool tables and a dartboard there, too, and you can get a couple of beers and some free food. Can't beat that."

General Information: 1-970-925-1220.
Snow Report: 1-888-277-3676.
Location: 218 miles west of Denver via I-70 and Colo. Hwy. 82.
Opening and Closing Dates: December 12-April 5.
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Terrain: 35% beginner, 39% intermediate, 26% advanced. 410 skiable acres with a 2,030 vertical drop. Base: 7,780'; top: 9,900'; longest run: 3 miles.

Lifts: 1 high-speed quad, 5 double chairs, 1 handle tow.
Lift Rates: Adult full-day $59; child 7-12 full-day $35; child under 6 and senior over 70 free.

Rentals: Rental center at base of mountain.
Snowboarding/Cross-Country: Snowboarding welcome. Cross-country call 1-970-923-2145 for information.

Special Events: MCI Boarderfest, Dec. 13-14; Buttermilk Day Wintersksl, Jan. 18.

Copper Mountain Resort
After growing up in Decatur, Alabama, and going to school in Florida, Jen Hartley just wanted to spend time in the mountains. "I had been coming out here to Summit County to ski before I moved here, and I always really liked it," Hartley says. "And then the summer after college, I just up and moved out here. I didn't know anyone, really, and I wound up crashing on somebody's couch. And then I decided to stay."

That was in May 1994, and since then, Hartley, 25, has lived in both Breckenridge and Frisco. And of all the mountains she has access to from her Frisco home, Copper is the one she skis and snowboards most. "I like the terrain and the short lift lines," Hartley explains. "It really, really is less crowded here than other resorts. Mid-week on a powder day, there is just no one around."

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