Choosing the Best Days to Ski (Hint: the Holidays)

Any day, during ski season that is, is a good day; but some are better than others. We can’t always predict sunshine and no wind, but we can strive for no lines, no traffic and a bar stool in the lodge.

Although any day during the work week (Mon- Friday) is always better than a weekend, Tuesdays are by far the best day of the week to ski. I’m not worried about giving away my best day because a lot of you have to work on Tuesdays. Yeah, it sucks to be you. Not only is this a day few people take off from work, but unless they’re staying all week, most vacationers start their stay on Wednesday or Thursday. Some do a long weekend and end their visit on Monday. No one is there on Tuesday except me and a few other lucky ones.

As long as the snow is good, this is not just one of the best days of the early season (other than my Tuesday) but one of the best holidays of all to ski or ride. There are lots of folks in town for the holidays but very few make it up on the mountain. It has something to do with a turkey dinner I believe. It is weird eating a chili-dog or piece of pizza on Thanksgiving but you’ll get over it in no time and you won’t even have to wait in line for it. Try having your Turkey day celebration on Friday and enjoy the mountain to yourself on Thanksgiving Day. You can thank me later.

Christmas Day
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; except you hard-core skiers and boarders that is. While the kids are still opening the presents, the lifts are open and there is no line at all. The afternoon may bring some of the visiting throngs to the hill but the morning hours are like a gift from the fat man himself. The rest of the week is nuts with the locals paraphrasing the late great Yogi Berra, “Nobody goes up this week, it’s too crowded.”

New Year’s Eve
Depending on the day it falls on, the morning may have some crowds but the afternoon will be dead. A couple weeks ago, guess what? New Year’s Eve was a Tuesday. You have your Holiday visitors but day skiers are non-existent. Then after lunch, most folks want to go back to the condo to get dolled up for the evening’s festivities. That leaves all those runs for just you. Oh, and you’ll probably get at seat right at the bar for Après-ski. The serious drinkers haven’t even started yet.

New Year’s Day
This one is a no-brainer. Three quarters of the village is hung-over; hopefully you’re not. Add in the fact that chances are half the visitors are alumni from a college that is playing in a bowl game that day, and you’ll not only get first-tracks, for a while there you’ll get only-tracks.

Martin Luther King Day
The middle of January things slow down just a bit as far as out-of-staters are concerned. The MLK weekend is a busy one but that Monday is not too bad. What, with the march and parade that they call a Marade going on in town, and the fact most folks have to work the next day: Tuesday (yeah, still sucks to be you) the intrepid skier or boarder can have his own Skirade.

(Not) Presidents’ Day Weekend
As Robie the Robot used to say in Lost in Space, “Danger, Danger,” or better yet, as the Monty Python gang says in The Holy Grail “Run away, run away.” This is probably the worst weekend of the season. The snow is in perfect mid-season shape, every run is open and every yahoo in the country is planning on coming up. Stay in town and buy a washer/dryer combo in what has become our National Appliance Sale Weekend anyway.

Valentine’s Day
What better way to say “I love you,” than to bail on work and head for the slopes? Of course, it’s better if you take your significant other with you, but it’s the thought that counts. This year Valentine’s Day is a Friday so that weekend will be filling up. If you’re single and don’t have a date by now, you may as well head up the hill, you ain’t getting lucky today, pal.

St Paddy’s Day
Now, this may not be considered an official holiday but with a name like Michael Patrick Ryan, you can bet your uhhm, shamrock that it’s a biggie for me. Actually Colorado celebrates this day as well or better than anyone. With green beer, green clothes and that one other “Green” party favor we’re famous for, this is quite the party in these parts. St Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday this year so the lines should be short, the slopes should be clear, and I guarantee you, the mood will be festive.

Once again this holiday falls on closing weekend for a lot of resorts, making things a little busier because of that. Easter has typically drawn heavily from Latin America as this is a big vacation week down there and Vail is known for a lot of Latin American visitors every Easter. It’s only fair since half of the ski towns residents will be headed down there after the lifts close for the season. Add in the fact that its closing weekend and you just have to go anyway. Be nice to our visitors from the south and if any of them asks “Donde esta el bano?’ (Where is the bathroom?) Answer like we always do at resorts: “Upstairs.”

by Michael Ryan