Snowmass remains 6th in ‘Ski’ rankings, Aspen Mtn and Highlands fall | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass remains 6th in ‘Ski’ rankings, Aspen Mtn and Highlands fall

Matt Lanning skies Traynor's cliff band on Aspen Mountain on March 4. Aspen Mountain slipped to 13 from 12 in Ski magazine's 2016 Resort Rankings.

Snowmass stayed put in Ski magazine's annual ski resort rankings for 2016, but Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands slipped.

The annual rankings, compiled from a survey of readers, placed Snowmass at No. 6, just like last season. Aspen Mountain fell from No. 12 to No. 13. Aspen Highlands slipped two notches from 16 to 18 in the minds of Ski readers. Buttermilk wasn't on the readers' radar.

"They are what they are. We're not going to lose sleep over it," said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle.

Skico has long argued that its resorts should be considered as one. It markets as the Power of Four. Ski magazine doesn't see it that way.

Whistler/Blackcomb kept the top spot. Sun Valley leapt over Deer Valley to trade positions from last year.

Telluride grabbed No. 4, same as last season. Jackson Hole moved up to No. 5.

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Snowmass can take solace that it is now ranked ahead of Vail and Beaver Creek. Vail fell to No. 7 this season from No. 5. Beaver Creek moved up to No. 10 from No. 11.

According to Ski's blurb, which accompanied each ranked resort, Snowmass was rated highly for its lift system, No. 5 among western resorts, and its variety of terrain at No. 9. Value was among its low marks, rating No. 36 in the West.

Aspen Mountain drew praise, as usual, for its Après ski opportunities, ranking second behind Whistler/Blackcomb. It fell in at No. 45 for value.

Aspen Highlands scored big in snow, No. 8, and challenge, No. 9, but couldn't move up in the overall standings from last year.

Hanle said the methodology of ranking resorts remains somewhat of a mystery.

"We as a company still don't understand how they work," he said.

He noted that "feedback from our guests" in internal surveys shows Aspen-Snowmass loyalists place Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass as three of the top five resorts. Clearly the people that visit Aspen-Snowmass have a different view than Ski readers, Hanle said.

"Maybe one day the rankings will catch up with reality," Hanle said.

Zingers aside, Skico has a point. Ahead of Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands was Sunshine Village, Alberta. There isn't a Buttermilk sighting anywhere in the rankings, not even best terrain park, even though Buttermilk is the longtime home of the Winter X Games.

For Ski's list, go to http://www.skinet.com/ski/galleries/2016s-top-ranked-western-ski-resorts.

scondon@aspentimes.com

BEST OF THE WEST*

1. Whistler/Blackcomb

2. Sun Valley

3. Deer Valley

4. Telluride

5. Jackson Hole

6. Snowmass

7. Vail

8. Steamboat

9. Whitefish

10. Beaver Creek

13. Aspen Mountain

18. Aspen Highlands