This post could also be called “The 2010-2011 Ski Season By The Numbers.” I figure it will be enlightening to break down the last five months quantitatively. In no particular order…
By all local accounts, this was a fantastic year for snow. We have no frame of reference, since it’s our first full season at a big western resort, but even in mid April the slope coverage is quite good. And we picked up almost no rock gouges in our skis, normally a big problem out west.
Grand total snowfall at Beaver Creek, 385 inches (a normal winter is about 310)
Grand total snowfall at Vail, 482 inches (normally 345)
We began this season with 5 pairs of skis in the car on our drive to Colorado; pair of Rossignol race stock 155cm Slalom skis and a pair of 170cm Fischer RX-8 skis for Heather, and a pair of 174cm Rossignol 9X’s, a pair of 178cm Fischer race stock GS skis (for competition) and an older pair of 181cm Fischer GS race skis (cruising) for me.
I’m slightly embarrassed to note that on our drive back to the east coast we will be carrying 11 pairs of skis (well, 10.5 to be precise, but that’s another story *). In addition to the 5 pair detailed above (minus one of my Rossignol 9X’s), we’re bringing a pair of 170cm Fischer Cold Heat all-mountain skis and a pair of 170cm Volkl Kendo powder skis for Heather, plus a pair of 175cm Fischer RC4 Progressor all-mountain skis, a pair of 184cm Volkl Kendo powder skis, and a pair of 191cm race stock Atomic GS skis (courtesy of Scott Snow – thank you!), for me and a pair of 168cm Volkl Tigersharks for dad.
Grand total skis acquired, 6 pair
I collected $770 in tips, and Heather, who taught twice as many lessons, collected $1,380. For perspective, during Heather’s multi-year ski instructing career at Bryce Resort in Virginia, she received a total of $20 in tips. Sometimes it’s fun to hang out with rich people.
Grand total tips, $2,150
Ski Gear Purchased
In addition to about $200 each spent on ski clothing (pants, base layers, etc.), we bought the following big-ticket items:
- Fischer Cold Heat 170cm skis & bindings – $150
- Fischer RC4 175cm skis & bindings – $345
- Volkl Kendo 170cm skis & bindings – $385
- Volkl Kendo 184cm skis only – $100
- Tecnica Inferno ski boots (for Heather) – $620 (including custom footbed and custom fitting)
- Hotronics electronic ski boot heaters (a set for each of us) – $180
Grand total gear purchased, $2,180 (hey, we almost earned in tips what we spent on gear!). Sadly, I was unable to acquire what I really wanted, a pair of 165cm Blizzard race stock slalom skis. Next year.
Days and Vertical Skied
Vail Resorts’ Epic Mix system keeps track of pass-holders’ days on mountain and total vertical skied for Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, and Heavenly. My official count was 75 days and 1,257,725 vertical feet at Vail and Beaver Creek. Heather had 84 days and 950,960 vertical feet on these two mountains. In addition to the official Epic Mix totals we had 3 days at Aspen, 3 days of cross-country skiing at Tennessee Pass, and I had 5 days at Bryce.
Grand total skiing, 86 days and ~1.3 million vertical feet for me, 90 days and ~1 million vertical feet for Heather.
Loot from the Beaver Creek and Instructor Race Series
The local racing series were pretty lucrative for me. In the instructor series (Tuesday afternoons), I won the following items; two pairs of Schneider racing gloves, street value ~$100 each, plus an entire sack full of Bud Lite / Nordica ski straps and Bud Lite / Nordica beer coozies, along with the odd Bud Lite lime-green baseball hat (given away at the insistence of my favorite wife).
In the Beaver Creek Championship Series (Monday mornings), I won a pair of goggles (~$130), a Nordica / Bud Lite ski bag (~$70), a set of top and bottom Mountain Hard Wear base layers (~$90), a Budweiser T-shirt (limited value), another set of bottom Mountain Hard Wear longjohns (which I traded with a fellow racer for a dinner-for-two coupon at Main St. Grill, $30), a stainless steel 40-oz drink canteen (~$20), a Subaru T-shirt (also of limited value), and several more lime green Bud-Lite baseball hats (also given away in the pursuit of marital harmony).
The next-to-last day of the season was the second annual Vintage Race Day. It was quite a show. They had set up an old-style race course, complete with vintage start banner, bamboo gates, and old race bibs. Someone was there renting out ancient ski gear. You could only enter the races if you had gear from before 1995, when shaped skis made their appearance. Heather and I rented old skis and boots for $50, and Heather won a $50 gift certificate to one of the nice on-slope restaurants, which we then traded with a fellow raffle winner for a Hotronics boot/glove warmer/dryer (worth about $50).
The racing was one of the better deals this winter, because my total entry fees were $25 for the Instructor Race Series ($5 each for the five races), and my entry to the Beaver Creek Championship Series was comped because I worked in the race department. In addition, the B.C.C.S included free appetizers and all the Bud Lite you could drink (hey, it was free…) at the after-parties Monday evenings. And to top it off, our team (Coyote Cafe) in the B.C.C.S. won third place for the season, so we received priceless B.C. Championship Series third-place beer mugs. Readers of our previous posts will remember that third place was a tie, and we (generously) offered our mugs to the other third-place team, and then the organizers felt bad and had another set of third-place mugs made up for us. Nice!
Grand total race loot, $590 (not counting all the Bud Lite / Nordica ski straps, beer coozies, or green baseball hats)
Skiing at Beaver Creek has a perq that’s unique in the entire ski industry, I believe. At 3pm every day, a parade of “chefs” in white chef outfits appear at the base with hot, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Many days this can turn into a cookie frenzy, giving added gravity to The Beav’s motto, “not exactly roughing it.” Some days we’re still in uniform when the cookies appear, and it’s verboten for employees to get cookies while in uniform. Still, we had our fair share over the season.
Grand total free cookies, not as many as you might think!
Fancy Restaurant Meals
This count was at zero right up until our final weekend. We had resisted the siren song of all the delicious restaurants at Beaver Creek, in the name of maintaining true to our household austerity plan. A few days ago, though, I saw in the Vail Daily that Ristorante D’Oro was offering $30 fixed price dinners, including soup, salad, main course, and desert, plus $25 bottles of wine. This is a restaurant where the entrees alone are around $30, and the wine list normally starts at $60 and goes to infinity. We rang up Greg and Susan and had a great evening, the one-and-only time we succumbed to the decadence of fine dining this winter.
Grand total fancy restaurant meals, 1
A hand-written note mailed to Heather from one of her 5-year-old students, thanking her for all the fun and hoping to see her again – Priceless!
* The missing ski story. Right now I only have one Rossignol 174cm 9X ski. As you might remember from before, we have some decent extreme terrain here at The Beav. One day a few months ago I was skiing the Stone Creek Chutes in about a foot of fresh powder, and chose Chute 44 to host a yard sale. I flumphed into a pile of heavy powder snow about a third of the way down the chute, my feet and skis stopped dead in their tracks, and in slow motion my center of mass moved out over my feet and down the hill. Over I went, and in an instant I was sliding down the chute face first, quite a bit faster than I was comfortable with. I glanced off an aspen tree (fortunately not a direct hit) and continued my slide all the way to the bottom, discarding skis and poles along the way.
I could see one ski and one pole sticking out of the snow about 75 yards above me, but there was no sign of the other ski or pole. 45 minutes of searching in the deep powder revealed nothing, so I proceeded to ski out of the area on my one remaining ski (skiing moguls is tougher than you’d think on one ski). I returned the next couple days to continue the search, but to no avail. The ski patrol tells me it will be June before the snowpack in this section melts. I left them my phone number and email and the promise of a couple cases of Fat Tire beer if they find my other ski. Hopefully I can report good news on this front in a few months!