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Walker's favorite run is Corona, a black diamond on the back side of the mountain. "It's never crowded, so you can ski really fast and just get on the chair and run laps," she says. "Check out the glades in Corona Bowl while you're back there. Those trees hold powder for days."
And Eldora's Nordic Center offers forty kilometers of trails for cross-country, skate skiing and snowshoeing trails (rentals and lessons available).
General Information: www.Eldora.com; 303-440-8700.
Location: 45 miles northwest of Denver via I-25, U.S. Hwy. 36 west and Colo. Hwy. 119; 21 miles west of Boulder.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Snow Report: 303-440-8700.
Lift Rates: Adult day pass: $65.
Terrain: 680 skiable acres; 20 percent beginner; 50 percent intermediate; 30 percent advanced/expert. Base is 9,200', with a 1,600' vertical rise; summit: 10,800'.
The Vail resorts are pushing their new high-tech EpicMix social-media app this season, using passive-chip technology to allow skiers and snowboarders to digitally capture their ski and ride experience, then shout it to the world via Facebook and Twitter. EpicMix tracks skier visits, tallies your runs, and awards virtual "pins" for various accomplishments on the mountain and over the course of the season. But if you're keeping score, one accomplishment will be hard to beat: For the past two seasons in a row, Charlie Alexander — aka Mr. Epic — has skied every single day of the season, most of them at Keystone.
"I'm not out to compete with anybody," Alexander says, though his record is likely to stand for a good long while. Keystone opened on November 5 this season and closes on Easter Sunday, April 24, which means you'll need 171 consecutive days to claim the Mr. Epic title. "I'm a guy in my sixties, I'm retired, and I'm just going out and having fun skiing every day, pretty much living the dream," explains Alexander. "I guess they got to checking their computer printouts and realized one guy had more days than anybody else, and they created the title 'Mr. Epic' just for me and gave me a free Epic Pass. I'll be at Keystone on opening day again this year and I'll probably be out skiing every other day, too, God willing."
To get the devil out on Mr. Epic's favorite run, take the Peru Express, hang a right, cruise past the entrance to the A-51 Terrain Park, then loop back down to the base on Go Devil, a black run at the edge of the ski-area boundary that has mostly been forgotten in the shadow of the freestyle park. "As you're going up the lift, you'll see people popping up off the huge jumps doing 360s and backflips and putting on quite a show right beside the chair," Alexander says. "It's one of the most popular places on the mountain, but if you go just a little bit farther to Go Devil, you'll have it to yourself. They hold downhill races on it from time to time, but otherwise, almost nobody goes to that run."
Alexander says he's been skiing at Keystone ever since he got out of the Navy in 1971, back around the time the resort first opened. "With Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Arapahoe Basin to choose from on the Epic Pass, Keystone's still my favorite," he concludes.
Other ways to count the days at Keystone this season include increased Kidtopia family programming, an expanded tubing hill on Dercum Mountain, the $5 Outback Shuttle (ride the Outback bowls without hiking), and a full-day snowcat skiing tour of Keystone's bowls with Keystone Adventure Tours and catering by Alpenglow Stube.
General Information: www.Keystone Resort.com; 800-468-5004.
Location: 90 miles west of Denver via I-70 (exit 205 at Dillon), then 6 miles east on U.S. Hwy. 6.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; open until 8 p.m. on night-skiing days.
Snow Report: 800-468-5004.
Lift Rates: TBA; order seven-day advance tickets at www.Breckenridge.com for the best discounts.
Terrain: 3,148 skiable acres with 135 trails; 19 percent beginner, 32 percent intermediate, 49 percent advanced/expert. Base is 9,280', with a 3,128' vertical rise; summit: 12,408'.
Loveland — which won the race to open first this season, starting the lifts on October 24 — is pushing two slogans: "Core Colorado" and "So Close to Home."
Both resonate with Branden Peak, owner of Emage Skate & Snow in Denver. "Loveland's definitely our favorite place to go, and we make a weekly Wednesday pilgrimage up there with our team guys and a lot of our customers who have become friends or acquaintances over the years," Peak says. "The snow sets up really nice at Loveland and sticks around for a while, and you can get into just about anything you're after up there. It's awesome."
And the most awesome run, in Peak's opinion, is...Awesome. "It's just off of Chair 8, and it's a spot that doesn't open up until a bit later in the year, but once it has some snow on it, it's one of the best. We also ride Chair 9 a bit and do a fair bit of hiking, and there's another spot off of Chair 4 with a great natural halfpipe. As the months go by, it sets up differently, with all these different jumps, and then it drops into this epic tree run that always has a ton of powder."
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