Aspen fourth in Ski Mag rankings | AspenTimes.com

Aspen fourth in Ski Mag rankings

ASPEN ” Ski Magazine readers ranked Aspen Mountain the fourth-best ski resort in North America for 2007-08 while Snowmass placed fifth, according to a sneak peek for the media Friday.

Aspen Mountain managed to improve three spots in the last year, matching its highest position ever in the rankings. It placed seventh in the magazine’s “Top 50 Resort Guide” last year.

Snowmass dropped two spots after ranking third last season.

Aspen Skiing Co. Senior Vice President David Perry said company officials are pleased to have two of the top five resorts. If the Skico’s four ski areas were considered one destination, “there’s no doubt in my mind we’d be No. 1,” he said.

Perry was quick to add that he has no complaint about Ski procedures and how Aspen Mountain, As-pen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass are treated as separate resorts.

Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk didn’t crack the top 10. Perry said he believes Highlands ranked 16th this season.

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Complete rankings are due out Sept. 25 when the October edition of Ski hits newsstands.

For the top spot, Deer Valley and Vail continued what has become an annual wrestling match for bragging rights. The Utah luxury resort claimed the No. 1 position after being No. 2 last year.

Vail was second in this year’s survey, falling from the top spot last season.

Deer Valley also was at the pinnacle, at least in the minds of Ski readers, in 2005-06.

Whistler/Blackcomb weighed in at No. 3 this season, then Aspen Mountain and Snowmass.

Rounding out the top 10 this season were: Park City, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Steamboat and Sun Valley.

No new resorts cracked the elite group this season. The top resorts from 2006-07 just shuffled spots. Snowmass fell the furthest of any resort.

The rise and fall of the Skico’s four resorts might reflect the fickle nature of skiers and riders who fill out the magazine’s annual survey more than anything the resorts did. If anything, logic suggests Snowmass should have solidified its position over the last year. It added the Elk Camp Gondola last season. That relieved base-area congestion and improved access to the eastern half of the sprawling mountain.

The only change at Aspen Mountain last season was the upgrade of the Silver Queen Gondola cabins.

Perry said he sees great things coming for Snowmass in the next few years, and he expects that will be reflected in the rankings. The first phase is underway on the multimillion-dollar Base Village project. On-mountain improvement plans include a new restaurant and chairlift replacements.

“I don’t fully expect Snowmass to come into its own until the development is more complete,” Perry said.

Colorado placed six resorts in Ski’s top 10. Nearly 7,000 subscribers responded to the survey, which an independent research firm conducts. Resorts receive rankings in 18 categories, which range from off-slope characteristics like apres-ski offerings and dining to hard-core skiing attributes such as challenge of terrain and quality of terrain parks. Service, access and other conditions that are easily measured weigh in, as do more subjective factors such as weather and snow, which change constantly.

Perry said ski resorts are aware of the rankings and use them, to some extent, in marketing efforts. “It is called the granddaddy of ski area rankings,” he said.

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