Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Skiing readers rank Steamboat No. 9
Magazine ranks Steamboat tops for trees, second for snow and ninth for nightlife
Aspen and its namesake mountain earned praise for everything from its steep terrain to toning down the celebrity glitz in the Ski Magazine resort rankings.
But the price of an Aspen ski vacation, the travel hassles and even the bear problem got ripped as weaknesses.
Ski Magazine has conducted reader surveys for 23 years to rank the resorts of North America. Aspen Mountain slipped to 14 in the rankings this year, after coming in seventh last year.
Snowmass fell in the Ski Magazine survey from four to six. Highlands moved up to 17 from 18. Steamboat ranked No. 10.
The top three resorts were Deer Valley, Utah; Whistler-Blackcomb, B.C.; and Vail.
Arguably more revealing than Aspen's ranking, however, are the comments from survey respondents.
"A fabulous mountain that skis bigger than it is once you learn it," wrote one perceptive skier in the general comments of the magazine's survey.
"The place everyone wishes they could ski," observed another. It wasn't clear if that comment referred to skill level or wallet size.
"Better without Hollywood," wrote one respondent on the changing Aspen scene.
The Aspen Skiing Co. and Aspen Chamber Resort Association couldn't have dreamed up better endorsements than what some respondents provided.
"My favorite in Colorado," one respondent gushed. "Excellent ski conditions at all four resorts. Very good service with friendly and helpful staff. ... Never that crowded, either. Good for all skier types. Not as corporate as Vail-owned resorts."
Aspen Mountain "packs a big punch," one respondent said."
Another survey respondent boiled his or her experience to this: "Classic mountain and town, recommended. Not just for the rich and famous."
The comments were made available by Ski Magazine executive editor Greg Ditrinco, a former Aspen Daily News reporter.
Aspen's relative isolation bothered some respondents. A person who identified accessibility as a weakness wrote: "Aspen's airport is great, once you're on the ground."
At least three respondents complained about the experience of skiing through Kleenex Corner and Upper Little Nell to get off the mountain, something the ski company might hear more about as skiers age.
"Lacks a decent way to the bottom," wrote one. "Bottom is usually terrible funneling into Kleenex Corner and down," wrote another.
One respondent listed, "The scene" as a strength as well as a weakness.
And in a sign of the times, it was inevitable that someone identified a weakness as, "Too many bears."