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Ski Report: Our Favorite Gay Ski Weeks

SkiBumsPic0003

Photos courtesy of Ski Bums and Tom Whitman Events/Elevation.

The weather forecasters are calling for a very snowy winter in the US and Canada this year, and now’s the best time to start planning. Ski resorts have noticed how gay ski weeks can tap into the enviable pink dollar and there have never been more events for LGBT skiers and riders than what’s on the calendar -- there’s at least one LGBT skiing and snowboarding event happening every weekend from January through April.

Below the jump, find a few of our favorites, but first, take note: 

  • Have a close look at who’s running things. Some “gay ski weeks” are little more than a lodging company with a rainbow on its website, offering little real organization or events.

  • Be sure you’ve got a realistic sense of the mountain conditions; many gay ski weeks have edged to the shoulder season in order to score cheaper rates, when the snow and surface quality are less predictable.

SkiBumsPic0003

Photos courtesy of Ski Bums and Tom Whitman Events/Elevation.

The weather forecasters are calling for a very snowy winter in the US and Canada this year, and now’s the best time to start planning. Ski resorts have noticed how gay ski weeks can tap into the enviable pink dollar and there have never been more events for LGBT skiers and riders than what’s on the calendar -- there’s at least one LGBT skiing and snowboarding event happening every weekend from January through April.

Below the jump, find a few of our favorites, but first, take note: 

  • Have a close look at who’s running things. Some “gay ski weeks” are little more than a lodging company with a rainbow on its website, offering little real organization or events.

  • Be sure you’ve got a realistic sense of the mountain conditions; many gay ski weeks have edged to the shoulder season in order to score cheaper rates, when the snow and surface quality are less predictable.
Most LGBT skiers and snowboarders are familiar with Aspen Gay Ski Week (January 16–23, 2011) and Whistler / Blackcomb’s WinterPRIDE(January 30 – February 6, 2011), the two original gay ski weeks. Today, more competition means they’ve got to work hard to keep the crowds coming. Aspen’s lined up a comedy night with the estimable (and hilarious) Leslie Jordan, while Whistler is prepping a roster of world-class DJs for its famous late-night dances. If you’re not here for the parties, you may be in the minority over the weekend, but the morning meet-ups with local mountain hosts are a great way to experience the fun of skiing and riding here.


Telluride Gay Ski Week: February 26 – March 5, 2011
There are truly few places in America more beautiful than Telluride at the end of February. It’s a charming old mining town in the heart of a picturesque canyon, and Telluride avoids the big crowds of many other Colorado resorts. Telluride’s gay ski is well organized, and this year it benefits a fantastic local AIDS charity.



Elevation at Mammoth: March 16–20, 2011

This one has a big West Coast following (including members of our new Ski Bums California chapter and plenty of lookers, pictured left), and Mammoth Mountain serves up one of America’s largest winter playgrounds. Plus, none of the evening events stretch into the morning hours, which means you won’t have to miss out on the fun if you still want to catch the chair lift in the morning.

 

Crested Butte Gay Ski Week: March 19–26, 2011
Outboard: March 29 – April 3, 2011
Perhaps no other resort is making as concerted a push to reach out to LGBT travelers than the scenic gem of Crested Butte, Colorado. They’ve got the rare distinction of hosting two gay ski weeks this year. The first is the new home of the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s event (formerly at Telluride), while the second is devoted to gay snowboarders. If you’re looking for an atmosphere that primarily focuses on the fun of skiing and snowboarding -- with an array of evening social events -- these weeks should be at the top of your list.

2011 Ski Bums Season: December through May
 Perhaps the most exciting season we’ve ever had: group trips to Courchevel, Steamboat USA, Heavenly, Kirkwood, Jackson Hole, Banff, Kicking Horse, Mont Tremblant, Stowe and Okemo, alongside local daytrips from New York City, Washington DC and Los Angeles. And, we’re planning a heliskiing trip to Sweden in early May! But there are two events on our calendar that I’m extra excited about:


Park City, Utah: January 25–30, 2011
There’s virtually no one skiing the Wasatch during the Sundance Film Festival, which makes the famous Utah powder even more abundant and uncrowded than usual. We’ll be skiing and riding at Brighton, the Canyons and Snowbasin, attending a screening or two and hosting our own gay party in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday the 28th. Everyone’s invited!

Powder Peaks at Beaver Creek / Vail, Colorado: January 19–23, 2011
We’re thrilled to host the very first women’s gay skiing event with a vacation devoted to the ladies, set amidst the backdrop of some of the world’s finest terrain. It’s the first women’s gay ski week in the West, and we’re inviting women to spend three days tearing up the slopes at Vail and Beaver Creek, then relax each evening at the top-notch Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa.

Want to learn to ski or snowboard? Stay tuned next week, and I’ll tell you how anyone can pick up a new winter sport.

Chris French is the president of Ski Bums, the world’s largest club for LGBT skiers and snowboarders. He lives in New York City. Visit Ski-Bums.org to learn more.
 


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