Ski magazine readers rank Vail No. 1

Publication: Vail Daily; Date: 09/09/2004

By Scott N. Miller

VAIL - Break out the big foam fingers, Vail is No. 1 again.

For the third year in a row and the 13th time in 17 years, SKI magazine readers have named Vail the top ski resort in North America. All five of Vail Resorts' ski areas - Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Heavenly, Calif. - cracked the top 20 in the magazine's list of the top 60 ski resorts in North America.

Beaver Creek made the biggest jump, from eighth last year to fourth this year. Breckenridge landed the sixth spot in the survey, Keystone was 15 and Heavenly was 16.

The ratings will be published in the magazine's October issue, which should be on stands in a week or so.

The results come from an independent survey of more than 20,000 people who have subscribed to the magazine for two years or more. Resorts are ranked in categories including snow, grooming, terrain, lodging and off-hill activities. Voting is limited to people who have visited the resorts in the last two years.

This year's ratings also include a new section, "lifestyle rankings." Those ratings cover categories like the best places for a guys-only trip (Jackson Hole), the best girls trip (Deer Valley, Utah), or a romantic getaway (Aspen).

But the top dog among SKI readers is Vail.

Naturally, Vail Resorts officials were thrilled with the company's heavy presence in the survey's top 20. "Being No. 1 is a tremendous source of price for everyone," Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Bill Jensen said in a release.

The top 10
Vail
Deer Valley, Utah
Snowmass
Beaver Creek
Whistler/Blackcomb, British Columbia
Breckenridge
Aspen
Park City, Utah
Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
Steamboat

But the news was welcomed outside the resorts' corporate offices, too.

"It's a huge deal - it really fortifies Vail's prominence in the world of skiing," Double Diamond Ski and Sport owner Tom Sapiro said. "It really does put us a step ahead of everyone else."

The rating also elevates what visitors expect.

"People expect a great level of service that's not available at other resorts," Sapiro said. "We look forward to that."

At the American Ski Exchange, owner Tom Higgins was also pleased with the news.

"There's no question it helps," Higgins said. "It's a matter of prestige for the ski areas and the valley."

While Higgins is in the ski business, he said the resort ranking is a rising tide that lifts many boats.

"It helps everybody from the gas stations to the pizza shops," Higgins said. "It all trickles down."