Magazine readers rank Snowmass fourth best | AspenTimes.com

Magazine readers rank Snowmass fourth best

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Readers of Ski magazine think that only Vail, Deer Valley in Utah and Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia are better than Snowmass.

The magazine’s annual reader survey results were released Wednesday, and Vail took the top spot away from Deer Valley among ski resorts in North America.

Snowmass rose from seventh to fourth place, Aspen Mountain dropped from fourth to eighth, and Highlands went from No. 17 to No. 11.

Two years ago, Snowmass was ranked sixth, Aspen Mountain fifth and Highlands 16th. Buttermilk Mountain is not ranked in the Ski magazine survey.

The magazine’s “Top 60 Resort Guide” will be in the October issue, which goes on sale next week.

“There has always been some things in the rankings that are difficult to explain,” said David Perry, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

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But Perry doesn’t discount the importance of the rankings. “It has a lot of impact,” he said. “And it does provide a lot of marketing fodder.”

And he said if you look at how the three resorts either rose or fell, Aspen/Snowmass as a whole came out ahead. Snowmass was up three slots, and Highlands climbed six. But Ajax fell four. “We gained five points,” Perry said.

And he pointed out that Colorado has nine out of the top 15 slots. “Colorado just clobbers every other region, which is great,” he said.

Ski Executive Editor Greg Ditrinco, nee Trinker, said No. 1-ranked Vail gives his readers what they want.

“Whether it?s Blue Sky Basin, kid-friendly Adventure Ridge or the constant improvements being made each season, Vail gives skiers what they want most ? security in knowing they?ll have a successful vacation,” Ditrinco said.

Ski magazine says that 20,000 of its readers are surveyed on 16 resort categories by an independent research firm. Its readers are typically older skiers and snowboarders, especially compared to magazines such as Freeze or TransWorld SNOWboarding.

Ski’s sister publication, Skiing magazine, also ranks ski areas, but relies on its editors and ski industry experts for its results. Last year, Skiing named Aspen/Snowmass the top resort in the United States. That was one of the first times that the four Aspen/Snowmass ski areas were ranked as a group.

Ski magazine’s policy is that only ski areas that are physically connected should be judged as one ski area, which is why it ranks Whistler/Blackcomb as one resort. Those two Canadian ski areas share a base area.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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