Ski Town Throwdown History
The theme of the year was, without a doubt, parity. Three number one seeds went home licking their wounds after the first round, Michigan singlehandedly eliminated Vermont, and an eight-seed skated all the way to the finals. Voters whittled 32 teams down to two, Aspen verus Mount Washington, for a cross-border clash in the finals that threatened to destroy centuries of relative peace for a chance at the whole Throwdown enchilada. After a battle that lasted several days, Aspen emerged victorious and claimed the title for Ski Town Throwdown III.
In the first ever 64-ski area bracket, upstart Eaglecrest, owned by the city of Juneau, Alaska, made it through a stacked Great White North. They would face Crested Butte, the tiny town near Gunnison, Colorado, in a dramatic final. Both locales would host parties at bars, the entry to which demanded a vote for the home team. Ultimately, “CB” would emerge, out-drinking and out-voting Eaglecrest by the narrowest of margins in a dog-fight that lasted until the bitter end. The party that night at Kochevar’s was legendary. Crested Butte was never the same, as Whatever, U.S.A. can attest.
It was the inaugural Ski Town Throwdown final, and the local papers declared it an instant classic. Bozeman versus Rossland/Nelson. U.S. Versus Canada. Poutine versus fries. Flannel versus, well, flannel. For Bozeman, a chip on its shoulder wasn’t enough to overcome the greatest Canadian duo since Messier and Gretzky. Rossland and Nelson will forever be linked by the Throwdown’s first trophy. Valhalla indeed.
Marquee image: Steamboat Springs, Colorado, stands victorious. PHOTO: Steamboat Resort/Camille DiTrani
Congratulations to Steamboat, Colorado, for taking the win in the Ski Town Throwdown IV. With more than 45,000 votes in the final round, Steamboat, the 8-seed out of the Rocky Mountain West, narrowly beat Red Mountain, in British Columbia, the 3-seed out of the Great White North, for the championship. During the past month of competition, the Colorado ski town, set to open Thanksgiving Day, beat out a number of worthy opponents; first toppling last year’s winner, Crested Butte; followed by Sun Valley, Idaho, in the Sweet 16; Jackson, Wyoming in the ELite 8; and the top qualifier from the East, Mount Bohemia, Michigan, in the Final Four.
“Steamboat is known as Ski Town, USA, so we love the Ski Town Throwdown and are really excited to take home the win this year,” said Steamboat spokesperson Nicole Miller. “Our staff, locals and fans get involved in voting for Steamboat and promoting Throwdown every year. We owe this win to them.”
As Eugene Buchanan wrote—Aspen groves, powder, and hot springs to soak your fried quads in afterward—that’s Steamboat Springs, as far removed from Colorado’s other resorts as its low-key vibe is from Vail’s furs. The term “champagne powder” was coined and even trademarked here for good reason; it’s the first mountain range that storms hit after pummeling the Wasatch, blasting Mount Werner with some of the best snowfall in the state (nearby Buff Pass regularly competes with Wolf Creek Pass for top billing).
Located far enough from the Front Range to avoid Denver’s day traffic, it also seldom gets the crowds to track it up. You’ll wait longer to change your clothes in the teepee at nearby Strawberry Park Hotsprings than you will at any lift. As for the skiing, what it might lack in the steeps, it makes up for in snow quality and consistent vertical.
Steamboat’s victory marks the third consecutive year a Colorado ski town has taken home the win. Thanks for voting, skiers. According to you, Steamboat is the best place to live and ski in North America. See you on the chairlift.
Vertical Drop: 3,668 feet
Annual Snowfall: 334 inches
Getting There: From Denver, drive 70 miles west on I-70 to Dillon. Take a right on Hwy. 9 (north) and then a left on Hwy. 40 (west) in Kremmling. Steamboat’s 65 miles away, just over Rabbit Ears Pass.