Of course, the skiing deserves a lot of the credit. The resort itself has expansive terrain for everyone from beginner to expert, as well as one of the best terrain parks in the country. The snow, because of Breck's high elevation, seems to come earlier and last longer, too. And this season, snowmaking has been added to the Angels' Rest and Pioneer trails on Peak 7 so they can be opened earlier.
Personally, Lapinsohn is partial to Peak 10. When he can get away from his stores, which isn't often during the busy tourist season, he laps the three runs — two blue-blacks and a black — at the center of Peak 10 until his break is over.
General Information: www.breckenridge.snow.com; 1-970-453-5000.
Location: 104 miles west of Denver on I-70 (exit 203), then Colo. Hwy. 9 to Breckenridge.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Snow Report: 1-970-453-6118.
Lift Rates: TBA.
Terrain: 2,358 skiable acres with 155 trails; 14 percent beginner, 31 percent intermediate, 19 percent advanced, 36 percent expert. The base is 9,600', with a 3,398 vertical rise; summit: 12,998'.
Copper Mountain Resort
Pro rider Erich Dummer says Copper has one of the best parks he's ridden, and it's where he spends most of his time. He likes that it's long, that it starts out with easier features and progressively gets more advanced, giving him a chance to warm up. The Catalyst run actually holds four parks, but — if you hit them back-to-back, like Dummer — it feels like one.
"And now they just hired Snow Park Technologies last year to help them build and maintain their park, and those guys have done an awesome job," he says. The half-pipe was perfected, and now it's "huge," he says.
James Frederick, another pro rider, agrees that the terrain park at Copper has always been top-notch, but the changes to the half-pipe will make it the best around. "It's perfect," he says. "It's just built perfectly."
When he's not at the park, Frederick hits Tucker Mountain, where Copper offers free in-bound cat skiing with the price of a lift ticket. "It gives you a taste of being in the backcountry, but safe," he says. "You can get back there and find good snow."
Overall, he feels like the terrain is more varied at Copper than at other Summit County resorts. You can always find a forgotten stash of snow — especially in areas like Tucker, where not everyone wants to venture — and it's a laid-back place.
"Everyone at Copper is always in a really good mood, which blows me away," he adds. "I feel like they have a good thing going on."
General Information: www.coppercolorado.com; 1-800-458-8386.
Location: 75 miles west of Denver via I-70, exit 195.
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends.
Snow Report: 1-800-789-7609.
Lift Rates: TBA.
Terrain: 2,450 skiable acres with 126 trails; 21 percent beginner, 25 percent intermediate; 36 percent advanced and 18 percent expert. The base is 9,712', with a 2,601' vertical rise; summit: 12,313'.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort
Warren Miller's latest film, Children of Winter, features pro skier Wendy Fisher proudly showing off her hometown resort. "It was the most epic time I can remember living here," she says. "It was perfect. Epic snow conditions. I was really psyched to be a part of it, being that I live here. It's hit or miss with Warren Miller. They give you two weeks, and if the snow is bad, that's what you're stuck with. Everything was perfect."
That's partly because Crested Butte had a pretty epic 2007-2008 season, with the most snow on record: 421 inches and an unprecedented 100-inch base on closing day. Locals like Fisher are hoping for another record season.
Fisher has been in Crested Butte for eleven years. She was a ski racer, ready to retire, in 1995 when she decided to take one last ski trip — a road trip, actually, to all the resorts where she knew people. "I was planning on never skiing again," she says. But in Crested Butte she entered in a big mountain contest and had the time of her life — and then she met a guy, and the rest is history. Now they're teaching their two boys, ages two and one, to ski.
"It's just a really fun, technical mountain," she says. "Really consistent steep pitches. Lots of nooks and crannies on every run. Things to work and play on, and obstacles to try to conquer. Other ski areas might have a hit and then you go to another location and do that hit or find a technical something-or-other. Here it's really condensed: one fun challenging line next to the next challenging line. I feel like it helped my skiing even after my long background of ski racing and that being my life focus. You can still learn and grow even when you're not trying to."
The snow, like most places, can vary. But when it's good, it's great: light and fluffy and easy to ski through. More than that, however, Fisher says it's the community that's kept her in Crested Butte. "Having two small kids, I definitely can't imagine raising them anywhere else," she says.