Vail’s Gay Ski Week brings crowds |

Vail’s Gay Ski Week brings crowds

VAIL, Colo. – Vail Gay Ski Week promoters and volunteers are predicting Vail’s event will become Colorado’s gay ski week

It’s the first year for Vail Gay Ski Week, while ski towns Aspen and Telluride have held successful gay ski weeks for years. Vail’s proximity to Denver, though, gives it that extra local’s touch, said volunteer Sean Ragsdale, who works for Rocky Mountain Vacation Rentals, which created the event.

“We tried to make it affordable – there’s more locals, more Coloradans,” Ragsdale said Thursday.

Aspen’s Gay Ski Week costs an average of $6,000 per person and typically attracts people from all over, while Vail’s is more in the $1,000 range and the majority of participants are coming from the Denver area, said Janyce Brandon, Vail Gay Ski Week spokeswoman.

As of Thursday morning, the second official day of Vail Gay Ski Week, about 360 people were registered and signed in for the event. Organizers are expecting a lot more Front Rangers to show up Friday for the weekend of events that include a beer bust party at the Donovan Pavilion and a silent auction and dinner benefiting the Denver-based Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado.

One Avon man, who calls himself Big Dirt, is volunteering for Gay Ski Week and is looking forward to networking. He said the Vail area lacks a decent gay and lesbian scene, other than the Bully Ranch on Thursday nights.

Gay Ski Week is also a great opportunity for people to come out of the closet, Big Dirt said.

Ragsdale and BIg Dirt set up an information tent in front of the Marketplace on Meadow Drive Thursday, passing out information, condoms, stickers and other promotional items. Big Dirt said a construction worker walked over from Solaris and inquired with them – a perfect example of the event allowing people who might otherwise keep their sexuality to themselves to open up.

Ragsdale said the event gained momentum when a couple wrote a letter to the Vail Daily a few months ago chastising the event. The response to that letter showed how much the overall community, gay and straight, supported the event, he said.

“For me, it just made me want to prove something to the community – that it could be successful in the first year,” Ragsdale said.

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