Aspen slips to No. 8 on Skiing magazine’s list |

Aspen slips to No. 8 on Skiing magazine’s list

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen has slipped slightly on Skiing magazine’s annual list of the 25 top ski resorts, falling from No. 7 to No. 8 overall in North America.

The magazine’s “Top 25 Spots” – a list led by Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia; Alta/Snowbird, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Vail (see attached chart) – are determined by a combination of reader input, athlete surveys and statistics such as elevation, snowfall and nightlife. Aspen’s elevation hasn’t changed much, Skiing editors note, so the resort’s new ranking must be rooted in public opinion.

“It had to have been something to do with the reader survey or the athlete poll,” said Marc Peruzzi, the magazine’s acting executive editor.

Another problem might be the magazine’s ranking system. Skiing counts resorts within 15 miles of each other as one ski area – Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands are coupled as one resort, and so are Vail and Beaver Creek. Inexplicably, Buttermilk and Snowmass are not included in the Aspen grouping, though the two mountains are within the 15-mile limit set by the magazine.

Snowmass, which claimed the No. 4 spot on another magazine’s list of top resorts, would have helped Aspen’s ranking considerably, said Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman.

Aspen’s place in the Top 25 is a boon for the resort, considering the omission of Buttermilk and Snowmass and their amenities, Hanle said.

“We’re pretty happy to be in the top 10 in North America, considering that they’re only using two of our four mountains in the rankings,” he said.

Though Aspen’s overall ranking suffered slightly, its performance on the survey’s subcategories was positive. Aspen Highlands claimed the No. 3 spot on Skiing’s list of best steeps, Peruzzi said, thanks to the opening of more Highland Bowl terrain.

“We had quite a few people up there skiing Highlands this year” who called Skiing to report positive experiences, Peruzzi said.

Hanle seemed slightly disappointed in the Highlands’ steeps standings and predicted an even higher ranking next year.

“I think some of those people surveyed, a lot of them haven’t had the chance to come and experience it. There may be kind of a lag time” as word on the Bowl gets out, Hanle said. “I think you could probably see that have more of an impact in a year or two.”

Old Snowmass resident Chris Davenport, a member of the Aspen/Snowmass freeride team, was one of the many athletes polled for the Skiing survey. His experience with Aspen-area steeps may have helped the resort’s ranking, he said.

“Of course, I chose Aspen and Aspen Highlands for many of the categories, not just because I work for the ski company, but I actually believe we kick ass,” Davenport said.

He also seemed puzzled by the magazine’s ranking system.

“I was surprised, for instance, that Big Sky [in Montana] resort beat us overall in the standings,” he said. “I think Aspen, in general, offers a superior product in all of those categories.

“But those resort rankings are somewhat arbitrary.”

Aspen’s performance in one category, apres skiing and nightlife activity, did seem appropriate to Davenport. Aspen slipped from No. 1 spot to No. 2 in this area, according to Skiing’s survey.

“I was a little down on the fact that Aspen’s apres-ski scene is pretty weak right now,” Davenport said of his own survey results. “The fact that no locals want to go to Ajax Tavern, there’s nothing really right at the base of Aspen Mountain, and there’s one bar at Highlands – in general, it’s pretty weak. I think I would encourage the town and the ski company to try and bring that back.”

Skiing magazine’s November issue is due on newsstands next week.

Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is

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