Aspen ski areas fall on Skiing magazine’s list |

Aspen ski areas fall on Skiing magazine’s list

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Due to a change in how editors at Skiing magazine rank ski resorts, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass are all lower on the magazine’s list of resort rankings this year.

Skiing, which targets younger, more aggressive skiers than its sibling publication, Ski magazine, ranked “Aspen/Aspen Highlands” at No. 7 on its list of “25 Top Spots” in its November “Killer Trips” issue.

Above the two Aspen areas were Vail, Mammoth, Squaw Valley, Jackson Hole, Alta/Snowbird and in the top spot, Whistler Blackcomb.

In the top 10 below Aspen were Big Sky, Mont., Aleyeska, Alaska, and Fernie, British Columbia.

The Snowmass Ski Area did not make the list of the 25 “top spots,” although it was scored. Buttermilk Mountain was not considered at all in the rankings.

Last year, “Aspen/Snowmass,” which included Ajax, Highlands and Snowmass, was ranked No. 2 on the list behind Whistler Blackcomb.

That ranking spurred the Aspen Skiing Co. to issue a press release crowing about its position as the “No. 1 resort in the U.S.”

But this year, the criteria changed at Skiing, and the editors decided not to rank ski mountains as belonging to one resort unless you could ski between them.

So Vail and Beaver Creek, for example, were separated. But then Skiing editors made an exception for Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands, according to Skiing Managing Editor Bevin Wallace.

So Snowmass was not included as part of the Aspen experience. And that meant Snowmass by itself did not rate highly enough to make the magazine’s top-25 list, even though resorts such as Steamboat (11), Telluride (13) and Crested Butte (23) did.

“I am certainly surprised and disappointed,” said David Perry, the Skico’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “But the criteria has clearly changed from last year, and I know it is an editor’s selection.”

Unlike Ski magazine, which polls its readers to determine the most popular North American ski areas ? Deer Valley was No. 1 and Snowmass was No. 4 this year ? Skiing magazine considers a handful of objective statistics such as acreage, vertical drop, snowfall and three-day ticket prices, and then blends that data with subjective feedback from its editorial staff, contributors to the magazine and professional skiers.

“Ours has an element of subjectivity in it,” Wallace said.

And it seems the list is designed to appeal to Skiing’s target readers, who are 25- to 35-year-old “adventure seekers.” Ski magazine’s target audience are family skiers 35 and up who are interested in a skiing lifestyle.

That may explain why up-and-coming resorts such as Aleyeska, Fernie and Kicking Horse, British Columbia, are on the Skiing list, but popular big-name resorts such as Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Sun Valley and Deer Valley are not on its top-25 list.

“There are a number of other significant Colorado resorts that are conspicuously absent,” Perry said.

In the magazine’s subcategories, Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands were rated No. 1 for night life, No. 4 for steeps and No. 21 for snowfall.

As of yesterday, the November issue of Skiing was not on local newsstands.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is]

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