Those who know, know that some of the best mountains for freestyle skiing are in Colorado. Freestyle skiing is the fastest growing sport in the US. It's skiing with total abandon, from top to bottom, hucking cliffs, skiing chutes, dropping sick lines, and all around radness. Those movies you see by companies like Teton Gravity Research and Matchstick Productions feature the best of the best freeskiers in the world, all being dropped off by helicopter to ski a sick, needly, line that defies the imagination. It's a wonder these guys and girls get out alive, and every season there is one unfortunate loss.
Colorado is famous for its 14ers, a goal for most freeskiers to accomplish and ski. The fourteeners have a tight bond, it's like having climbed Everest. Being able to ski even one of the fourteeners is a feat in and of itself. You must be in optimium condition. None of these mountains are lift-served, meaning you have to hike your way to the top in order to ski down. It involves knowing how to ice climb, how to navigate and read pockets of snow, and above-all, being well schooled in avalanche safety.
If you want the Freeskier experience without all the education and hard work it takes to go where no lifts are running, then consider the following Colorado resorts that offer that great freeskier feel, within the comfort and safety of boundaries and a ski patrol crew nearby. These are some of the best ski mountains in the country. They were each rated within the top 30 ski resorts in the country by Ski Magazine this year.
Probably the best mountain for freestyle skiing, meaning top to bottom skiing, some steep, some cruising, some powder, some packed powder, some chutes if you're brave enough, and maybe a little hiking to get the goods, is Vail. Vail is especially known for its bowls, those large open spaces that fill with smooth beautiful powder that stays fluffy for days. Beaver Creek is right next door and makes for a very large resort for skiing all day long. There's advanced double blacks throughout the resort, and then, when you just want to cruise, you can still go to the top, but not overdo your nerves getting down to the bottom again. Make wide turns, make short turns, head through the trees, jump some rocks - just have fun!
Aspen is made up of several resorts. Aspen Mountain itself is in town, and the most social of the group. Big views and long runs coupled with great food at the lodge make for a nice, relaxing, ski day. Snowmass is about 15 minutes away and tends to be a little quieter. It's also a little bit more challenging and the runs are longer - it can take a full hour to get down from the top, rather like Europe. But for the Freeskier, the skier who wants to take it to a higher level, head to the Highlands.The runs are shorter, but most definitely steeper and the trees are more fun to zip through for the freestyle freeskier in you. Buttermilk is also fun, you really can't go wrong at any of the Aspen resorts.
The best kept secret is Telluride. It's difficult to get to, but when you arrive at the postcard ski town with the gorgeous, steep, mountain in the background, you'll be glad you made the trek. It ranks number one on this freestyle skier's list.