Fun Special Events at Southern Colorado Ski Resorts | SantaFe.com
The ski lights up over Crested Butte, an almost daily “special event” in itself. Photo courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Earlier this season I reported on the many special events being hosted this winter by New Mexico ski areas (read that story here). Here’s a look at what’s happening at southern Colorado resorts.

Crested Butte SPECIAL EVENTS

Crested Butte has the region’s most impressive series of special events lined up year after year, and this season is no exception.

On March 19, the Al Johnson Memorial Telemark Race returns for it’s 49th year! Racers will climb 660 vertical feet, followed by a 1,200-foot descent through Crested Butte’s infamous Extreme Terrain, all while sporting their best costumes and telemark gear. Come to compete or to watch. All proceeds benefit the Crested Butte Avalanche Center. Check-in and registration are from 8 – 10 a.m., with the race kicking off at noon. An after party will run from 3 – 5 p.m. in Butte 66, with awards presented at 4 p.m. Awards will be given for fastest times and best costumes. Details on registering are found on the resort’s website.

The projected final day of operations, April 1, provides a great excuse to celebrate, dress up in silly costumes, and have wacky events, like the Pond Skim, with competitors attempting to skim across a man-made pond on their skis or snowboard. Check-in/registration begins at 11 a.m. and the skim will get started at 1 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for Best Costume, Best Splash, Best Style, and more. Details on registering are found online.

Also, on the first three Saturdays in March, local bands will perform live at different on-mountain music venues in the Ski Town Breakdown: Unplugged series. Locations include the Umbrella Bar, Uley’s and Paradise. Show times are from 1 – 3 p.m.

The town of Crested Butte, in addition to the ski area, also presents numerous special events every winter. On February 17, the excellent jam band Leftover Salmon will perform in the Steddy Theater at the Center for the Arts. On February 19, join the 17th annual Gothic Mountain Tour, a ski mountaineering race that covers 23 miles, with 5,000 vertical foot ascent and descent. It ends with a party at the towns Nordic Yurt. For details and to register, visit the website.

February 28 and March 1 brings the Infamous Stringdusters to play at the Steddy Theater, and on March 6 the Young Dubliners will perform.

And finally, on April 1 – 2, the Crested Butte Nordic Center hosts the classic Grand Traverse, a renowned mountaineering ski race that runs from CB to Aspen, up and over the Elk Mountains via Taylor Pass. The course spans 40 miles, with 6,800 feet of vertical gain. For information and registration, click here.

Wolf Creek SPECIAL EVENTS

Wolf Creek’s Fun Series of races is open to skiers and boarders of all ages and abilities. There are 14 age brackets (ages 3 – 70-plus) for both males and female racers. Races are held on a modified GS course in a dual format. Racers face off on a red course, then a blue course, and their fastest single time is recorded. Medals are given to the top three finishers in each bracket.

They will be held almost every Saturday or Sunday through March 25, with a final Easter Bunny Race on April 18. Sign up on race days between 9:30 and 11 a.m. at intersection of Charisma and Turnpike. Races on Lower Charisma begin at 11 a.m., and awards are presented at 3 p.m. on the Upper Lodge Sundeck. For details, see their web site’s events section.

A more serious event is slated for April 1, when the area hosts a Super G/Downhill race in their Challenge Series.

Purgatory Mountain Resort SPECIAL EVENTS

Along with lots of special events, skiing at Purgatory can be fabulous in March, as seen in this 2018 photo. Photo courtesy Purgatory.
Along with lots of special events, skiing at Purgatory can be fabulous in March, as seen in this 2018 photo. Photo courtesy Purgatory.

Purgy also always mounts lots of special winter events. February 18 – 20, watch, or join in, a USASA halfpipe competition for skiers and boarders. Participants will be judged by a panel of experts on the technical difficulty of the tricks, their execution, and the height and style exhibited while performing them.

On February 25 – 26, the area hosts a USASA railjam and slopestyle competition, and on February 25 the Dave Spencer Ski Classic race returns on the NASTAR course to raise funds for the Adaptive Sports Association of Durango. That same day, it also hosts a ski bike festival with races and demos.

March 4 brings Uncle Clyde’s Run & Slide, a competition to see who can execute the most uphill dashes and downhill slides on an inner tube over a set time period, featuring two-person teams. There’s a $30 registration fee ($40 day-of-event). That evening enjoy a fireworks display.

On March 11 – 12, a USASA giant slalom will be run, as well as a cardboard derby race on March 11. On March 24 – 26, the area hosts the Southern Series Championship of the USASA in slalom (Sunday), GS (Saturday) and Super GS (Friday) formats. They expect to end the season on April 9 with a pond skim.

Throughout the remainder of the season, the resort also presents special ski and board workshops, such as adult race clinics.

Monarch Mountain SPECIAL EVENTS

Another day ends with a burst of color at Monarch Mountain to accentuate its end of season special events. Photo courtesy Monarch.
Another day ends with a burst of color at Monarch Mountain to accentuate its end of season special events. Photo courtesy Monarch.

This off the beaten path ski resort atop the Continental Divide in the mighty Sawatch Range has already held a number of special events, but a few more are in the wings.

On March 3 and March 17, enjoy a guided tour of the mountain with a naturalist who will discuss local forest ecology, winter wildlife, the recreational history of Monarch Pass, and more. Meet the naturalist at 11 a.m. at the sign near Ski Patrol/Cat Yurt. There is no sign-up required. Participants must have a season pass or day ticket to participate.

March 5 brings March Radness with a fun race and a slope style competition. April 8, projected closing day, will end with a bang as they host a classic race on Gunbarrel. Additional details for these events are found on the area Facebook page.

Telluride SPECIAL EVENTS

When the lights come on in downtown Telluride, the curtain rises on an array of excellent non-skiing activities. Photo courtesy Visit Telluride.
When the lights come on in downtown Telluride, the curtain rises on an array of excellent non-skiing activities. Photo courtesy Visit Telluride.

The ski area has reduced its number of on-mountain events but the town of Telluride is sponsoring a number of exciting evenings this winter. On February 19, from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the Palm Theater, enjoy a night of outdoor adventure movies in the MountainFilm festival. There will also be a silent auction, a door prize, and libations.

On February 23, enjoy a performance by Martin Sexton and on February 24 a show by John Oats, both at the historic Sheridan Opera House. February 25 – March 4, the ski area hosts Gay Ski Week, with numerous special happenings lined up. And, on March 25, the ski area will host its annual Cardboard Sled Derby, a fundraising event. Details on thee and other events, can be found here.

Top image: The ski lights up over Crested Butte, an almost daily “special event” in itself. Photo courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Dan Gibson
Snowsports journalist Daniel Gibson, photographed at Red River.

Daniel Gibson was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in October 2022 for his snowsports writing. He is the co-author of Images of America: Skiing in New Mexico (Arcadia Publishing, 2021), with 183 historic photos; and author of New Mexico’s only comprehensive ski guidebook, Skiing New Mexico: Snow Sports in the Land of Enchantment (UNM Press, 2017). He is a member of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association and has written on the topic for newspapers coast to coast, websites, and magazines, including PowderSki, and Wintersport Business. He can be reached at [email protected] or via DanielBGibson.com.

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This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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