Top 5 stories on, week of Feb. 9 |

Top 5 stories on, week of Feb. 9

Riders and skiers take advantage of the fresh powder on Friday, Feb. 7, as fat flakes of snow fill the skies and slopes at Copper Mountain.
Liz Copan /

Editor’s note: Stories in this list received the most page views on for the past week.

1. Vail Mountain COO Beth Howard offers apology, context on massive lift lines

After a heavy storm blanketed the High Country of Colorado with several feet of snow, the weekend crowds were out in force. Vail Mountain received 38 inches of snow in a 48-hour period, ranking as a top-five snowfall event in its 58-year history. On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8, guests began lining up at the bottom of Gondola One at 6 a.m., and by the time the resort opened, the line extended up the mountain.

On Saturday, with limited terrain open in the Back Bowls due to safety, the line at Chair 5 was also a problem, as that chair is the only option to upload. A few days later, Vail Mountain COO Beth Howard released a statement about the lines, providing context for the situation and also offering the public an apology.

“We were fully staffed — it was truly an all-hands-on-deck scenario — and we spared no expense to get the mountain open as quickly as possible,” Howard wrote in the statement, explaining that the Gondola One lines were gone by 10 a.m. on Friday and by 9:15 a.m. on Saturday. 

“I am well aware that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I truly hope my words here help provide context for what happened. I have complete confidence in our team at Vail Mountain and the huge investment we’ve made in high-speed chairlifts to alleviate lift line concerns across our resort. I am confident this was an isolated incident in the midst of extreme conditions.”

— Vail Daily staff report

2. Breckenridge Ski Resort and Copper Mountain Resort close terrain for safety

Following a heavy winter storm in Summit County, Breckenridge Ski Resort reported that it received more than 4 feet of snow. The deep accumulation meant lots of powder on the mountain but also potentially unsafe conditions on certain terrain.

On Friday, Feb. 7, the resort reported 19 inches of snow in 24 hours and announced that high-Alpine terrain was closed with no estimated time of opening. On Sunday, Feb. 9, the resort reported that the high-Alpine terrain remained closed. 

Taylor Sienkiewicz

3. Breckenridge confirms 2 fatal incidents at ski area in past month

Representatives with Breckenridge Ski Resort confirmed two incidents that resulted in fatalities at the ski area over the past three weeks.

On Jan. 20, a “serious incident” took place on the mountain involving a 45-year-old woman from Leesburg, Virginia, according to the resort. The woman was identified as Shirley V. Louangamath, originally from Vientiene, Laos. The manner of death was accidental and caused by traumatic heart failure due to blunt force trauma, according to the Summit County Coroner’s Office.

The resort also confirmed another fatality on the mountain Feb. 7 involving a 56-year-old man from Austin, Texas, identified as Stephen William Piche. According to the resort, ski patrol recovered Piche from an expert trail on Peak 9, and he was transported to the Breckenridge Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The manner of Piche’s death was natural, and it was caused by an acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, according to the Coroner’s Office.

Sawyer D’Argonne

4. Breckenridge Brewery & Pub signs 11 year lease after dispute with landlord over its longtime home

A deal has been struck to keep Breckenridge Brewery & Pub in its current location into the next decade.

The announcement comes after months of fighting over a lease between Anheuser-Busch, which owns the brewery, and its landlord Richard Squire, who originally founded the brewery 30 years ago.

“We’ve signed the lease to keep Anheuser-Busch in the building for the next 11 years,” said Graham Squire, Richard Squire’s son and one of the general partners of Breckenridge Brewery Real Estate, which owns the building.

“Now that we’re staying long term, we want to spruce up the place a little bit,” said Head Brewer Jimmy Walker. “We’re looking to put in a new brewhouse, as well. We still have the original 30-year-old equipment.”

Taylor Sienkiewicz

5. Widowmaker avalanche path slides during CDOT mitigation work, covering US Highway 6 and delaying A-Basin opening

Areas around Summit County were still dealing with the aftermath of a pair of severe winter storms last week, including along U.S. Highway 6 where an avalanche buried a section of the roadway and shut down access to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday morning, the Colorado Department of Transportation began avalanche mitigation efforts on backcountry chutes near the resort, including The Professor, Widowmaker and Grizzly Bowl. CDOT’s efforts resulted in a slide that covered a section of the roadway in 6-8 feet of snow, effectively closing down the resort for most of the morning.

Sawyer D’Argonne

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