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Santa shreds the slopes: Six sick shots from ski country

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Santa didn't bring much in the way of fresh snow for Christmas (apparently some of you skiers and snowboarders out there have been naughty this year) but he did manage to get some turns in after making his rounds in Colorado, shredding his way into the Facebook feeds of many of our favorite local ski areas. Here are a few of our favorites: Copper, better than coal. Santa's not above stepping out of his sleigh to hike for some freshies at Copper Mountain, and it's worth following his tracks: Events this week at Copper include the Burton Mountain Festival (December 30-January 1) -- a chance to demo all the latest Burton Snowboards gear and participate in the Burton LTR Learn-to-Ride program -- and New Year's Eve En Fuego, a full night of après-shred festivities including fire dancers, a snowcat parade, and fireworks over the mountain. While you're waiting for the next powder day, take the opportunity to learn some new tricks at Woodward at Copper, starting with a $59.99 One-Hit Wonder Session on the trampolines, Snowflex slopes, foam pits, and other features in The Barn, then working your way up to Winter Camp Days (starting at $149.99) in the terrain parks and superpipe on the mountain. Winter Park Wonderland. Winter Park takes Christmas pretty seriously, with an annual torchlight parade and fireworks on the mountain and a big ol' bonfire at the base area, so we weren't too surprised to see Santa throwing down in the terrain park over the weekend. They'll be doing it up for New Year's Eve, too: Ring in 2012 at 10,700' with dinner at the Lodge at Sunspot (buffet is $59.95 for adults, five-course fine dining menu is $79.95). And the 2nd annual Winter Park Snowboard Team camp starts tomorrow, December 28, and runs through December 31.

Share the Love. Mrs. Claus got in on the action at Loveland over the holiday weekend and managed to find some untracked pow, proof that the truth is out there. She just might be back next Thursday for the Outdoor Divas Demo Day on January 5, looking to fill in any remaining gaps in her holiday wishlist.

The calm before the Kidtopia. In this serene shot from Keystone, our man Kris Kringle enjoys a quiet moment between the holidays and the official start of Kidtopia, which begins today and runs through January 3. I went up last week with my own kids, (ages 7 and 9) for a Kidtopia preview and we can personally vouch for the fortitude of the Kidtopia snow fort, the dizziness of the Disco Tubing, and the all-around awesomeness of all the family-friendly events and activities happening this week.

Why do those sleigh bells sound like a chopper? Word has it Santa ditched his usual ride for a whirl in the whirlybird at Silverton Mountain over the weekend, seeking out a suitably steep slope for this shot, our favorite photo of the holiday season. If you've been looking for a good excuse to make the drive out to Silverton, try this on for size: So far this season the ski area has more than twice as much snow as any of the others on this list. Treat yourself to one of those helicopter drops while you're at it: They start at $159 per run or $999 for a full day of drops, but we recommend the $320 Heli-Accessed Ski Touring option, which gets you two drops and sets you loose for additional human-powered runs in a basin full of snow.

For insider tips from the rest of Colorado's ski areas, don't miss "The Edge," Westword's Winter Activity Guide.

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