Sunlight hosts annual Ski Spree on the mountain this weekend

Kyle Mills
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Anaclarissa Norris, right, from Aspen Country Day School, tells 2017 Taste of Sunlight participants about the spicy drunken chili she made for the event. The taste returns as part of this weekend's Ski Spree at Sunlight Mountain Resort.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent


Ski Spree 2019, Sunlight Mountain Resort

Schedule of Events

Saturday, Feb. 9

8:45 a.m. – Dawn Patrol Downhill

9 a.m. – Lifts open, Mountain Treasure Hunt Begins

2 p.m. – Taste of Sunlight

5 p.m. – Taste of Sunlight awards and prize giveaway

6 p.m. – Fireworks and fire dancers

Sunday, Feb. 10

9 a.m. – Lifts open

11 a.m. – Need for Speed race

With the mountain covered in a fresh blanket of new snow, and a good snow year to boot, the annual Sunlight Mountain Resort Ski Spree is back in full force this year.

Sunlight will host the community event that includes two days of activities of skiing, food and entertainment at the resort, situated 10 miles south of Glenwood Springs on Four Mile Road.

The event, which dates back over four decades, used to be spread across several area venues, and its many reiterations have brought it to locations both on and off the mountain over the years.

Troy Hawks, marketing and sales director at Sunlight Mountain Resort, said the mid-winter snow festival has always been a big deal. Organizers used to hold events downtown, and there was once skating and broom ball at Sayre and Two Rivers parks, plus a chili cook-off and fireworks at the Hotel Colorado.

Changes were made, and the event moved exclusively back to the mountain three years ago.

To kick off the event Saturday, Sunlight is bringing a new event, the Dawn Patrol Downhill.

“They are going to load the lift early, then race down Ute run,” Hawks said of the long, rolling run on the west side of the mountain.

The race, which starts at 8:45 a.m., was the idea of Sunlight’s ski patrol director. Lifts will open for the day at 9 a.m., as usual, for skiers and riders to enjoy the mountain.

The third annual Mountain Treasure Hunt begins once the lifts start running. Skiers and snowboarders will hunt all over the mountain for hidden dollar bills.

“We hide laminated, oversized dollar bills, 25 of them. We make some easy to find — maybe on green runs, maybe even a restroom,” Hawks said. “And then some are more difficult. We might put them on a tree, or on a black diamond run.

“The goal is to really make it accessible to all ability levels.”

Those who find the dollar bills can redeem them for gift coupons to local restaurants, hot springs passes, hats, T-shirts and more.

Local restaurants will serve up dishes for visitors, skiers and riders to enjoy at the Taste of Sunlight, which begins at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It went from the chili cook-off to the Taste of Sunlight,” Hawks said of the festival’s culinary evolution.

For $10, patrons will be able to sample all the food and vote for a winner. Taste participants will vote on their favorite booth, with trophies for first, second and third place on the line, Hawks added.

“We call them the tastemaster trophies,” he said.

Also new to this year’s event will be a beer tasting. For $5, those of legal age will get a souvenir glass to taste several beers on hand.

The day ends Saturday with fireworks at 6 p.m., and “we’ll have a torchlight parade coming down the mountain,” Hawks said.

“When they arrive at the base, we will have some fire dancers to cap off the evening,” he said. Jenna Fire Dance and Friends will provide the entertainment.

Sunday morning, the festivities continue with another treasure hunt and, back after a year’s absence, will be the Need for Speed race beginning at 11 a.m. For an entry fee of $25, skiers and boarders can test their mettle as they race down the mountain for top speed and bragging rights.

“It’s just like it sounds. They do straight runs down Joslin,” Hawks said of the hair-raising (for participants, anyway) event. “We have a radar calculating their speed.

“It’s a favorite among our local skiers and riders; a rare event. Not many ski areas do this one,” Hawks said.

There also will be a drawing for gift cards and a snowboard, plus two chances to win a pair of Sunny 700s skis autographed by two-time Olympian and area native Alice McKennis. Proceeds will benefit the Sunlight Winter Sports Club.

“The proceeds are going to benefit our local ski race team, and we are happy and proud to do that,” Hawks said.