Aspen ranks second on list of top ski towns |

Aspen ranks second on list of top ski towns

Steve Benson

Aspen is the second best ski town in North America, according to Freeskier Magazine.Unlike the rankings from Ski and Skiing magazines, which were largely compiled by surveys and focus on resorts as vacation destinations, Freeskier’s list was formed entirely by its staff and ranks not just the best resorts in North America, but the finest ski towns to call home. Some resorts were grouped by area, such as North Lake Tahoe, Calif., which was ranked sixth.”At some point in his life, every skier must drop off the work/school/responsibility map, move to a ski town and ski every day,” a foreword to the rankings states.Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia, took top honors, with Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and Jackson Hole, Wyo., taking third and fourth, respectively.While Boulder-based Freeskier is primarily a new-school “jibbing” rag, the editors made it clear that their rankings were actually driven by terrain, nightlife, weather, snowfall and an area’s livability.”It’s great, we’re happy to be recognized by Freeskier,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. “Especially since we still have that reputation that has been around forever,” he said, alluding to the impression that Aspen is a playground only for the rich and famous.”It gets lost sometimes that we are a hard-core ski town,” he added.Freeskier drew on Aspen’s balanced mix of new and old-school offerings in determining its high ranking.”Four mountains, home of the Winter X Games and a town that’s rich in skiing history – Aspen is worthy of its kingpin status,” the article states. “And in the last few years, Aspen has rediscovered its roots as the kind of rowdy, hard-drinking, hard-partying ski town that Hunter S. Thompson is proud to call home, not just a haven for wealthy socialites.”But the party atmosphere wasn’t all that Freeskier focused on, as the varied terrain at all four mountains was also highlighted.”From world-class park and pipe riding at Buttermilk to hidden glades on Aspen Mountain to the steep, gnarly shots found at Highlands and Snowmass … beneath the Aspen sheen is still one of North America’s greatest ski towns,” the magazine states.Freeskier’s resort rankings come on the heels of rankings by Ski and Skiing magazines released earlier this fall. Ski magazine, which caters to an older, wealthier readership, had Snowmass at No. 3 in North America, Aspen Mountain at No. 7 and Highlands at No. 13. Aspen and Highlands were jointly ranked No. 9 by Skiing Magazine, which has a younger, more adventurous reader, according to Skiing’s executive director, Mike Kessler.The fact that the Aspen area was ranked fairly high in all polls has the Skico believing the resort is finally garnering attention as a diverse hot-spot for all types of skiers and snowboarders.”There’s a lot of momentum being created,” Hanle said. “[But] while we’re picking up momentum in the new-school areas, we’re not losing our traditional strengths.”It’s great to have the whole nine yards covered as a complete resort – there’s an option for every age and ability level, skier or rider.”The rest of the top 10 was Salt Lake City at No. 5; North Lake Tahoe, Calif., at No. 6; Park City, Utah, at No. 7; South Lake Tahoe at No. 8; followed by Summit County and Vail.Steve Benson’s e-mail address is

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