Ranking Colorado’s resorts according to the different disciplines of snowboarding
By Jeff Brier (Coach JB)
The benefit of living a mountain lifestyle before snowboarding was mainstream and then learning to ride when hard-booting (Bro, do you even carve?) was cooler than freestyle, is that my coaching colleagues and I enjoy, and have an extensive background with all disciplines of riding (steeps, trees, park, pipe, carving, powder…). We don’t just do laps in the park; we ride it all at a high level and look for the best locations to experience every aspect of snowboarding.
What follows is a list of mountain recommendations, from friends (industry veterans and long-time Rocky Mountain locals) and a few of my own, which are based on the best terrain choices for each specific category of riding. Everyone has their own favorite trails and secret stashes and these selections are just a small sample of ours; so don’t be disappointed if your spot wasn’t included.
You can think of these options as your “best place for…” go-to list for new destinations to visit this winter.
CARVING – Buttermilk (Aspen) – Michelle Juneau, CAO, International and Domestic Sales Manager for Bomber Industries (22 years riding), describes Buttermilk’s appeal:
“Grooming is unbelievable and the slope pitches are perfect for carving. Trails are often empty which is ideal for laying out arcs and trench-digging fun. There’s a reason the carving community has nicknamed it ‘Buttersmooth’.”
TREES – Eagle Wind Territory (Winter Park) and Steamboat – Earl Saline, Director of Educational Programming for the NSAA (24 years riding), illustrates his experience with Winter Park’s trees:
“I love this spot for the natural snow cover; from Heaven not from hoses. Conditions are always different – variety spans knee-deep freshies to moguls. Tree riding here is hands-down one of my best go-to stashes.”
PIPE – Copper, Breckenridge and Buttermilk (Aspen) – home for a multitude of major professional and amateur ski and snowboard competitions, including the X-Games, Dew Tour, USSA Grand Prix, USASA Nationals, etc. Need I say more?
POWDER – Silverton, Wolf Creek and Monarch – I first visited Silverton in 2007 and was blown away with the atmosphere, consistent deep snow and fairly easy access to challenging terrain. I follow their posts and storm alerts all season long; they get snow and lots of it. Every experienced rider should visit this Mountain.
STEEPS – Crested Butte, A-Basin, Telluride, Silverton and Aspen Highlands – Lowell Hart, founder of one the world’s first snowboard schools in 1985 and an Instructor/Trainer for Vail Resorts (30+ years riding) comments on A-Basin:
“You definitely want to bring your A-game (no pun intended) as a fall here can result in a long slide through a rocky chute. The East Wall offers a rare opportunity to experience demanding, big-mountain terrain, all within resort boundaries.”
Miah Wheeler, US Paralympic Snowboard Team Head Coach + Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club Head Snowboard Coach (30 years riding) talks about steeps right in his backyard:
“G-8 at Aspen Highlands provides for a long (over 1,500 vertical), steep aspect that wind-loads and is bottomless all day. Dropping in at the top of Highlands Bowl (just over 12,300) with prayer flags fluttering in the wind and an amazing view only adds to the experience.”
PARK – Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper and Buttermilk (Aspen) – The one thing that differentiates these spots is that Keystone doesn’t have a pipe, but you can ride there at night. Other than that, you will be endlessly challenged with park options at each of these Mountains.
ALL-AROUND – Breckenridge, Winter Park, Keystone, Vail and Copper – Tree runs, then park hits, some moguls and finish it off with carving cruisers; yes, you can do it all in one day. Save your ‘resort bashing’ comments. I know these venues all have their individual shortcomings, but it’s rare to get this level of terrain variety and still be at the same mountain. Eric Zerowin, Breckenridge Ski & Ride School Staff Trainer (25 years riding) makes a case for his home mountain:
“It’s really cool that you can get off the Imperial Chair at 12,840, hike to 12,998 then start your run at the top of an open bowl, take a quick left and bounce through Contest Bowl, carve a groomer on the way to finishing your run in one of the World’s best terrain parks (or halfpipe). All that and you haven’t even left Peak 8 yet.”
Jeff “Coach Jb” Brier is a current 2x USASA National Boardercross Champion, an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, and a fully Certified AASI and USASA Snowboard Coach (24 years riding). He specializes in training Mountain Athletes through his business, Peak Performance Personal Training, in Denver Colorado. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@theMtnAthlete) and read his blog: theMountainAthlete.net.