Mikaela Shiffrin’s guide to Colorado
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I was born in the Vail Valley and, except for a few years in middle school and high school, this part of Colorado has always been home. When I am not travelling, I live in the small town of Edwards with my mom. I came to realise just how important this place is when my dad died suddenly two years ago. The whole valley came together to support our family – they took care of us, fed us – and that allowed me to get back to Europe and to racing all over the world.
The valley towns – Vail, Gypsum, Eagle, Avon, Beaver Creek, Minturn, Red Cliff and Edwards – make up a tight-knit community and everyone loves to ski. Edwards is particularly beautiful, with mountainous terrain in all directions. While Vail is more of a hotspot, Edwards has an under-the-radar feel and is full of local colour. When I have free time – which isn’t often in season – I chill out at the retro Riverwalk Theater, which screens the latest movies in old-school surroundings. For a burger and a local beer afterwards, Craftsman is a great spot, possibly followed by a stop at Sundae for handmade ice cream and waffle cones.
There is so much good skiing here, but one of my earliest powder experiences was at Forever – the aptly named area in Vail’s legendary alpine basin, the Sun Down Bowl – that feels as if it goes on forever. And check out Copper Mountain for some amazing groomers [ski runs that are kept smooth and consistent by machine]. It’s the home of our US Ski Team Speed and Tech Center, one of our official training sites, and where we spend a lot of time prior to the bulk of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships season.
When I’m shopping for outdoor gear, I like Axel’s for Norwegian-inspired, “mountain elegant” cashmere sweaters, while Gorsuch in Vail carries everything from knit hats to designer ski clothing – and the Gorsuch Ski Service Center in Eagle-Vail is the place to get equipment tuned. Ask for technician Jonathan Weyant, who does an excellent job. In Edwards, I favour Kind Bikes and Skis and my other go-to is Oakley, for goggles and glasses.
When I’m recommending hotels, I usually think of The Arrabelle at Vail Square, set in the middle of Lionshead Village. It has a Swiss chalet feel and is a good ski-in, ski-out option – and it’s also perfect for summer hiking and mountain biking up to Golden Peak. Then there’s The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, where I do my workouts and where you have the best views of the river and Beaver Creek beyond. The restaurant here – Maya – serves chef Richard Sandoval’s excellent take on traditional Mexican recipes such as pork carnitas and spicy jumbo prawn fajitas and the room is always very lively.
Outside of ski season, there is the Bravo! Vail Music Festival that runs from late June to early August and features world-class symphony orchestras, such as the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra – at venues like the beautiful Gerald R Ford Amphitheatre. That’s followed by the Vail Dance Festival at the end of July. And the Gourmet on Gore culinary festival marks the end of summer, offering everything from food trucks to dishes from the area’s top chefs.
As I prepare for the Olympics, I’ll be thinking about home and the Valley – and I’ll be keeping everyone in my heart as I try to do my best for our country and Team USA.
When to go: July and August offer warm days and cool nights, while December to April is best for peak ski conditions