January can be a sweet spot during the ski season for those in the know. The holiday crowds have departed and the spring-break rush has yet to arrive. Except for a brief bump during Martin Luther King Day Weekend, lift lines generally stay in the non-existent to short range. The law of supply and demand can also mean lower lodging prices for January.
By January, the season’s snowpack has had time to build up enough depth that most resorts are able to open virtually all their terrain. The colder temperatures and sun angle help keep that snow in excellent shape. The idea of mid-winter cold may scare away the timid, but proper layering usually provides an easy solution to stay warm. On the other hand, a warm “spring” bluebird day in January is not unheard of especially in regions with somewhat lower elevations such as LAKE TAHOE.
As if those reasons aren’t enticing enough for a January ski vacation, numerous resorts hold special events to draw more visitors. See below for details of the top January 2019 festivities across North American ski resorts.
Held Jan. 24-27, the annual X Games Aspen returns to BUTTERMILK. Spectators can watch all the competitions for free. Live coverage of the event airs on ESPN and ABC. While Aspen, Colo., is known for its nightlife year-round, the energy level goes to 11 during X Games. Concerts by Lil Wayne, Louis the Child, The Chainsmokers and Kygo are scheduled as part of the festival experience.
Inspired by the world-class athletes, skiers and boarders can still make turns of their own during competition days on much of Buttermilk’s 470-acre layout. Of course, visitors also have an additional total of 4,847 skiable acres nearby on ASPEN MOUNTAIN, ASPEN HIGHLANDS and SNOWMASS.
The athletes competing at STEAMBOAT on Monday, Jan. 21, have nowhere near the on-snow skill level of X Games competitors. That’s actually the fun of it. For more than 40 years, the Bud Light Cowboy Downhill has welcomed rodeo cowboys already visiting Colorado for the National Western Stock Show.
Known for wearing a trademark cowboy hat himself, Steamboat’s Director of Skiing Billy Kidd first invited a few rodeo stars to Steamboat for a casual, fun day of skiing. Now with more than 100 rodeo cowboys competing, the event has evolved into one of the highlights of the resort’s ski season.
The artists are not allowed to use power tools in the process of hand-carving the 25-ton blocks of snow. The 2019 teams hail from China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Mongolia, Turkey and the United States. A team from Mongolia won gold in last year’s competition.
As part of January’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, SUNDAY RIVER in Maine plans to be one of more than 140 resorts across the United States offering special programs for beginners. On Friday, Jan. 11, first timers ages 13 and up can receive rental equipment, a beginner lift ticket and a three-hour group lesson for $59.
On that Friday, the entire U.S. ski industry is trying to beat its record of 6,002 for the most beginner lessons taught in one day. Other participating resorts in the special Jan. 11 lesson drive include ASPEN SNOWMASS and Nevada’s Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe ski area located just outside RENO.
Held Jan. 25-27, the 45th annual Stowe Winter Carnival brings a full weekend of activities to the Vermont ski town. Ice carving competitions, an ice fishing derby for kids, and a snowgolf tournament are just a few of the scheduled activities. Of course, visitors can also enjoy plenty of skiing and boarding on the famous runs of STOWE. The legendary “Front Four” trails—Starr, National, Liftline and Goat— should be on the bucket list of expert skiers and riders.