Aspen Gay Ski Week kicks off 43rd year of festivities, fundraising for LGBTQ+ community | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen Gay Ski Week kicks off 43rd year of festivities, fundraising for LGBTQ+ community

IF YOU GO...

Below is a list of all of the major Aspen Gay Ski Week festivities. For a comprehensive schedule, visit gayskiweek.com. For the LGBTQ+ family weekend schedule in Snowmass, visit http://www.familyequality.org/events/ski-weekend/.

Everyday, the Gay Ski Week hospitality suite at the Limelight Hotel, 355 South Monarch Street, will be open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

MONDAY, JAN. 13

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at Highlands.

9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Dinner and 90’s dance party at Mi Chola.

TUESDAY, JAN. 14

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at Snowmass.

8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Drag Queen Bingo with Mariam T at Silver City Saloon. $10 for one bingo card, $20 for three. Followed by a late night party.

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 15

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at Aspen.

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tour Aspen’s boutiques and galleries for the Fashion and Art Night Out.

9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Dancing and fundraising benefit at the Caribou Club.

THURSDAY, JAN. 16

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at both Aspen Highlands and Snowmass.

8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Comedy show at Belly Up, featuring Julie Goldman and Alec Mapa, followed by a dance party.

FRIDAY, JAN. 17

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at Aspen.

12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Downhill costume competition on the Little Nell run at Aspen.

SATURDAY, JAN. 18

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Mountain du jour” ski tours and group riding/skiing at Snowmass.

8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Miami-themed pink flamingo pool party at the Aspen Recreation Center.

Near the base of the Silver Queen Gondola on Sunday morning, over 20 skiers split into three groups, met their mountain guides and rode to the top of the Aspen resort.

These skiers weren’t taking a lesson or a part of any sort of clinic. They were taking part in the first “mountain du jour” skiing experience of the annual Aspen Gay Ski Week, which kicked off its 43-year anniversary Sunday.

As the group of skiers turned their way down and across Aspen Mountain, some said they’d been coming to the Gay Ski Week celebration and fundraiser for decades because of its positive, fun culture. Others said they were attending for the first time, and some even said they had stumbled upon it in the past, becoming a part of the LGBTQ+ event by happenstance.

That’s how it was for Kevin McManamon, executive director of AspenOUT, the nonprofit behind Aspen Gay Ski Week.

He said he was visiting the local area with friends over 24 years ago at the same time as Aspen Gay Ski Week and has been a part of the event nearly every year since.

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“I was just here to ski with some friends and said, ‘Wait a minute, why are there so many gay people here?’” McManamon recalled, laughing. “I discovered it by accident.”

First working the week as a volunteer and now serving as AspenOUT’s executive director, McManamon said the annual Gay Ski Week is promoted and produced almost fully by the LGBTQ+ community.

This year, the week has a new sponsor, W Aspen, which will host the opening cocktail reception and several apres ski events over the week — featuring bartenders and dancers from The Abbey, a famous gay bar in Los Angeles — and is partnering with the Family Equality Council and R Family Vacations to host a LGBTQ+ family-focused weekend of events in Snowmass.

Starting with ULLR Night and an LGBTQ Family Night at the Treehouse, and ending with a pool party and friendship dinner, the inaugural LGBTQ+ family weekend is set to host 27 families as part of Aspen Gay Ski Week, and may even include a summer counterpart this year, as previously reported.

“We have a very loyal following but our growth will be with families,” McManamon said. “That’s where the future of gay travel is.”

But while this year’s Gay Ski Week includes a few new twists that are bound to be a part of the event moving forward, McManamon said a lot of what keeps so many people coming back year after year is the traditional Aspen Gay Ski week festivities — like the night out at the Caribou Club, downhill costume contest on the Little Nell run and the pink flamingo pool party — along with the fundraising the weeklong celebration does for the LGBTQ+ community.

Through lift tickets, rentals, apres-ski event sales and the annual silent auction, McManamon said Aspen Gay Ski week raises over $100,000 every year, which divides out into grants and scholarships for both national LGBTQ+ initiatives and local ones, like those through AspenOUT.

Looking to the future, McManamon said he hopes the week will continue to find ways to grow, highlight Aspen as a welcoming mountain town to the LGBTQ+ community, and serve as an annual event the entire city enjoys taking part in.

“I have a lot of friends who are bartenders and servers and say this is their favorite week of the year. The city loves us,” McManamon said of Aspen Gay Ski Week.

“The (LGBTQ+) community is really integrated into the Aspen community, but it’s not that way everywhere else. … There are lots of LGBTQ+ beach towns, but if you don’t want to go to the beach we should be the mountain town you feel you can come to. I think Aspen-Snowmass is at that point.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com


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