The day after taking the second annual Ski Town Throwdown presented by Liftopia championship, Crested Butte and its passionate denizens went after another win—the world record for the most Santas skiing at one time. Santa suits sold for $25 a piece (and that included five drink tickets) and hundreds of jolly red and bearded skiers stormed the mountain.
That’s one of many reasons why people voted Crested Butte the best ski town in North America.
“We’re definitely a different breed here in Crested Butte,” says Gabe Martin, 33, who owns the ski shop Colorado Freeskier. “We’re so far off the beaten path and we love that.”
Crested Butte was rated as a 15-seed in the Rocky Mountain West region, but the mountain beat the odds in the 64-town/ski area field, overcoming Powder Mountain/Snowbasin, Aspen, Big Sky, Sun Valley, Stevens Pass, and the tournament runner-up, Eaglecrest, Alaska, by a record final score of 17,156 votes to 17,063. CB is known for steep terrain and for hosting one of the longest running big mountain competitions in the country (Freeskiing Extremes, a FWQ 4-star event), but it’s also the kind of place where fundraisers are thrown for your neighbor’s dog who needs surgery—and the entire town comes out to show support, says Martin. It’s a town of referrals, where your friend knows another person who can help you with that thing. It’s famous for the burritos and tamales at Teocalli Temale—a cheap, quick, delicious meal to power up on powder days (except you’ll have to wait until noon, because the people who make your burritos will be skiing fresh pow all morning). Crested Butte is a town where you can move in without knowing a soul, and four years later, become the mayor. That’s what happened to Mayor Aaron Huckstep.
“Crested Butte is a unique place. The locals take a lot of pride in that,” says Huckstep. “That really is the glue that keeps everybody together.”
Every time Crested Butte was up for another round of Ski Town Throwdown voting, there’d be a party at the oldest saloon in town, Kochevar’s, another slice of Crested Butte goodness recently renovated by owner Jason Vernon. Amid the wall-hanging taxidermy, porcelain dolls, and other old artifacts the saloon has collected since it first opened in 1886, Crested Butte skiers and riders cast their votes. Billboards across Colorado got the vote out. And last Friday, voters were biting their nails until 6 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, when the polls closed. Crested Butte beat Eaglecrest by a narrow 93 votes out of more than 34,000 total votes cast in the finals.
“Everyone gets pumped up,” says Martin, who hopped on a bus on Saturday night and gave a shout out to CB’s win, spurring cheers from the rest of the riders. “We’re definitely going to be living off this high for the next year.”
Average Annual Snowfall: 300 inches
Total inbounds acreage: 1,547
Ticket price: $98
Don’t Miss: Teocallii Bowl, a short hike in and a short hike out, but your chances of finding a stash are pretty good.