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Nothing beats a Wednesday powder day, Royal Elk opens, and snow keeps pounding the Vail Valley
Occassional RealVail blogger Chris Anthony dives into Royal Elk Glade at Beaver Creek, which opened Wednesday.
By Dan Davis/Courtesy of Beaver Creek

Nothing beats a Wednesday powder day, Royal Elk opens, and snow keeps pounding the Vail Valley

By David O. Williams

December 18, 2008 —  I woke up this morning (Thursday) actually glad to see only 2 inches of new snow on the Vail report and 4 inches new at the Beav’. I just physically couldn’t take another big powder day after three memorable snow days out of the last five.

I got out Wednesday for Day 7 of my 2008-09 season so far and it was by far the best yet. Vail reported 10 new Wednesday after 4 new the day before, and the Beav’ chimed in with 11 new after 4 the day before.

Since it started snowing Friday night Vail has had 37 new and the Beav’ has topped out at 42 new. And guess what! Stop the freaking presses, but it’s snowing again as I type this at about 11:30 Thursday morning. We’re supposed to get another 10 inches or so out of this storm, with a couple more storms stacked up through the weekend and into early next week.

If you haven’t booked a trip yet, I have absolutely no idea what you’re waiting for (besides your 401K to come back up … and that ain’t happening anytime soon, so you might as well ski deep powder and be smiling about something).

But back to Wednesday at Vail. There is nothing in the world like a mid-week powder day at Vail, and this one was made even better by the absolute lack of humanity on the slopes. It was seriously eerie.

My buddy and I did a Headwall, Genghis, Genghis, Genghis, two unnamed runs through the trees that were seriously fat with pow, another Genghis, two Rasputins (which is now fully open … and I only hit one or two rocks), and then we ended with a Northwoods to Chair 11 followed by a truly sick trip into Riva Glade. Where, by the way, I found that the new Volkl Katanas work just fine in tight trees.

One surreal note: when we came out of the trees and were standing on Tourist Trap, it had to be the only time I’ve ever stood on that normally packed run and not seen another soul. Full-on freshies all the way down at noon. Seemed a lot like the old days in Vail.

The Beav’ meanwhile seems to be getting an inch or two or three more out of every storm. They opened one of my favorites, Royal Elk Glade, on Wednesday, and should be opening the Stone Creek Chutes soon. Do not miss that action when it happens.

Month-to-date Beaver Creek has received more than 5 feet (66 inches) of cumulative snowfall at mid mountain, which is 17 inches above the eight-year average for December. Year-to-date, 115 inches of cumulative snow has fallen at the Beav’, which may be on pace to break last season’s record snowfall total.

One final note, in a previous blog I mentioned a gondola accident at Whistler this week and a reader accused me of trying to capitalize on that potential tragedy (no one was killed, although there were some injuries). For the record, I was just making note of a newsworthy event in the ski industry. I do not wish ill on any ski resort because I pretty much think they all rock (with a few exceptions).

It’s been a tough run for Whistler-owner Intrawest, which also owns Copper Mountain and Steamboat here in Colorado (and manages Winter Park for the city of Denver). Fortress, the hedge fund that owns Intrawest, has reportedly come close to missing a couple of loan payments and may have to sell off some of its resorts.

I’m wondering how former Vail COO Bill Jensen, now CEO of Intrawest, is handling all of this. Bill is a great guy, still missed here in the Vail Valley, and we all hope he and the company weather the storm.



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