(L-R) Canadians' Dave Duncan, silver medal, Chris Del Bosco, gold medal and Brady Leman, bronze medal during the awards in Men's SkierX at Winter X Games Jan. 31 in Aspen, CO.
FLIP MCCRIRICK/Shazamm ESPN Images
ESPN Winter X Games previews 2010 Olympics
ASPEN, CO — To celebrate a couple of 40th birthdays, a small group of us from Calgary, Alberta decided the only way to truly celebrate would be a trip south to the U.S. and the skiing mecca of Colorado. Our plans included a stop at Breckenridge and Vail with the final destination being Aspen and the ESPN Winter X Games.
What can I say – a trip like this means going in style and a limo is the only way to go. And, it comes with roughly the same price tag as four airplane tickets, but without the mini snacks and multiple add-ons when it comes to extra charges.
So exactly when does a limousine really come in handy on a ski trip? For us it was after our last day of skiing at Vail. After a couple in Garfinkel's we loaded up the limo, kicked off our ski boots and relaxed with a couple more cold ones as our driver did the two hours from Vail to Aspen.
This year's ESPN Winter X Games set a new record for attendance as 82,100 visitors came to Aspen during X Games. We were arrived for the last few days of the Games. Aspen itself offered a vintage ski resort experience with its long ski pedigree, but adding X Games to the mix is like putting out a fire with gasoline.
This marked the 14th Annual Winter X games and featured more than 250 competitors from across the globe facing off for medals and prize money in skiing, snowboard and snowmobile. ESPN's broadcast would be beamed out to over 172 countries world wide. With the Olympics right around the corner this X Games was a special preview as more than 39 past and present Olympians were in Aspen for the competition.
For us the best thing was that the competition was organized so that we could ski all day and then catch the finals at night. X Games or not, there was no way we were going to miss a chance to ski Aspen.
With four ski mountains to choose from, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, the area offers over 2,146 hectares of skiable terrain. X Games had strewn half pipes, snowcross tracks and a super pipe across Buttermilk so we opted to ski Snowmass on our first day.
Packed crowds attend the Men's Snowboard SuperPipe at the 2010 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
SCOTT HENDERSON/Special to SnowSeekers
Snowmass' 1,343 m vertical drop, the highest in North America, guaranteed good skiing and we weren't disappointed. For those that like it steep, Gowdy's and AMF are two runs with a slope angle of 40 degrees. Snowmass really stands out for its sheer size and the length of its runs.
The day at Snowmass was topped off by watching Californian and defending Olympic halfpipe champion, Shaun White take a record third gold medal in the Men's Snowboard Super Pipe combination.
This guy will be unstoppable in Vancouver. In the other final that night, Colorado's own Bobby Brown dominated the Skiing Big Air competition with switch-double misty 1440. In English: four full rotations in the air.
Down here on earth, we were faced with one day left and two mountains to ski: Aspen Mountain or the Highlands. We decided to headed to Aspen Mountain as it is best known for steep bump runs that drop right into the town. The runs haven't changed that much since it opened in 1947, but the high speed gondolas are a great addition.
I was expecting to take it easy on the last day, but we then ran into some locals who put us through the paces as they showed us around their mountain. With long bump runs and plenty of steep terrain Aspen was the perfect place to end our tour of Colorado.
As it turned out, Aspen was also a great place to have our last night out as we hit the perfect après ski bar: 39 Degrees in the Sky Hotel. This swanky, ultra hip, and lively bar was surprisingly warm and friendly. Patio doors opened up to a heated swimming pool and jacuzzi.
Our local guides had planned in advance and took swim suits out of their ski pant pockets and quickly jumped into the hot tub. If you are still dancing in your ski boots at 11 p.m. you know you are in a great après ski bar.
As we left Aspen on the last day of X Games, we learned that Canada had swept all the medals in the Men's Skier X. Chris Del Bosco, Dave Duncan and Brady Leman captured the gold, silver and bronze, respectively. Watch for these three on Feb. 21 in Vancouver when they compete for Olympic Gold in this crazy new sport that combines motocross and downhill racing.
For those seeking the perfect ski trip, Colorado has a lot to offer. Even with Aspen, Vail and Breckenridge now crossed off the list, hardly a dent was made in all the possible ski resorts one could visit in this state. For us, with our trip complete, we now had 24 hours in a limousine to get back to Calgary, Alberta. More than enough time to figure out next year's trip.
To plan your ski vacation to Aspen, visit www.aspensnowmass.com
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