My mission at Beaver Creek Mountain started and ended with one word today: Moguls.
I can get down just about any blue or black (that’s intermediate or advanced, for you non-skiers) run at a Colorado ski resort, but when I hit moguls – those hippo-sized mounds of snow that form on ungroomed slopes – I just don’t flow like the really good skiers.
After all, I’m a Texan. I get to ski five or 10 days a year, max. It’s hard to improve when that’s all the time you can devote to a sport.
That’s where Chico Thuon comes in.
Thuon, who has lived here for 33 years and serves on the Avon town council, spent the day pointing me at moguls and giving me tips. He shared helpful secrets, like “pretend you’re following a bowling ball down the mountain” and “always look back up when you’ve finished a run.”
I especially like that last tip. Thuon says that skiing’s about 80 percent mental. (He told me lots of other stuff that I can’t repeat here, too.)
We dipped and dived and tackled bumps for six hours. My legs are shot and my back is tired. But I loved it, and I feel like I made some strides.
I’m looking forward to more skiing tomorrow. In the meantime, here are my favorite things about Beaver Creek so far.
The best things about Beaver Creek
- World class corduroy. OK, honestly, I’m not into groomed runs. I’d rather get off the marked slopes and sniff around in the trees. But Beaver Creek is known for its high quality grooming, which is so perfect it looks like corduroy. And even I have to admit it’s pretty nice to make nice big turns down a pristine swathe of precisely formed snow ripples.
- I haven’t met him yet, but I will. Willie the Mountain Safety Dog, a golden retriever rescued from an animal shelter in Pueblo, Colorado, is famous here. He’s part of the mountain ski patrol team, and serves as the face of mountain safety. One of tomorrow’s missions Is to meet him up close and in person.
- Beaver Creek is also home to the Birds of Prey World Cup Super G and Downhill Races. (I know this because my amigo Erich Schlegel photographs it every year.) I skied most of the course today, just to do it. And yes, I’m way slower than the pros.
- About 15 years ago, my husband and I ate at Beano’s Cabin. We still remember the experience – we rode a sleigh up to a gorgeous cabin in the woods, ate a gourmet meal, sipped delicious wine, and snuggled under blankets on the sleigh ride back down the mountain. Beaver Creek now has three fine dining cabins, and tonight I’m going to Zack’s Cabin for dinner.
- Got a sweet tooth? Stop by the Candy Cabin on the mountain, where you can buy enough old-fashioned treats to induce a sugar coma.
- The Osprey, where I’m staying, bills itself as the closest lodge to a ski lift in North America. My room on the second floor literally overlooks the lift, which is about 25 feet away. Talk about ski in and ski out!
- Not into downhill skiing? Try the ice rink, where you can spin and twirl on a sheet of ice right in the center of the village.
- Not into skating, either? Try snow shoeing. While most resorts relegate their snowshoe trails to the foot of the mountain, Beaver Creek elevates them. Snowshoers can stroll beautiful trails with panoramic views high on the mountain.
- The Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek hosts an array of performances, from music to comedy to theater. The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center is playing tomorrow, and Grand Funk Railroad plays Wednesday. Upcoming shows include John Oates, Jim Gaffigan, Robert Earl Keen, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
- Beaver Creek just opened 250 new acres of terrain in McCoy Park. It’s beginner and intermediate friendly, which I thought would bore me. But the undulating terrain, with widely spaced glades and that famous Beaver Creek grooming, is just the ticket when you need a little chill in your life.
- And because I couldn’t stop at just 10, I’ll give you a bonus – those famous chocolate chip cookies. Every day as the lifts quit whirling, a team of employees dons white chefs hats and hands out warm cookies – to everyone, for free. Need I say more?