At the age of three, freeskiing phenom Gus Kenworthy began exploring Telluride, Colorado’s legendary slopes with his mom. “My mom was learning to ski at the same time as me, so we were good partners,” he says. But it wasn’t long before Kenworthy graduated to the resort’s epic steeps, backcountry and terrain park.
And it paid off. By the time he was 19, he was a regular on the podium at freeskiing’s major events. Last year, he was crowned the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) World Skiing Invitational (WSI) world champion. This winter, he’ll headline the United State’s inaugural freesking squad at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Look for him to be a serious medal contender in the halfpipe and slopestyle events.
But remember, it was Telluride that groomed Kenworthy, 22, to be one of skiing’s biggest stars. “It’s a well-known fact that Telluride boasts some of the steepest, deepest and most diverse terrain of any ski resort in North America,” he says. And that’s what he likes best about this mountain, stashed in the southwest corner of Colorado, 100 miles from the nearest stoplight.
From the best chili to how to catch first chair on a powder day, Kenworthy knows this resort inside and out. Follow his tips to make the most of your next trip to Telluride.
Last year, Gus Kenworthy was crowned the AFP/WSI world champion.
Copyright: Atomic/Fabian Weber
Favorite runs: When I’m in Telluride, you’ll most likely find me in the terrain park, named after my late friend Hoot Brown. When I do venture out, I like Gold Hill and Prospect’s hike-to terrain. Or I’ll be skiing Log Pile with my mom (her favorite run).
Best lift: I think for all-terrain access, Prospect or Gold Hill lifts. They’re both quick and comfortable rides, and from there you have access to a ton of incredible skiing. If you’re not a big hiker but want big-mountain terrain, then Gold Hill has loads of good options. Take the Prospect lift and in less than five minutes of hiking, you’ll be standing on top of La Rosa or Genevieve—both fun and challenging runs.
Best hike-to terrain: If you don’t mind earning your turns, I recommend Gold Hill Chutes or Palmyra Peak.
Best trees: The trees on lift 6. They shelter snow and that area is kind of a basin, so the snow gets really deep. Try the trees on the side of Happy Thoughts. Zulu Queen is a good choice too.
Best groomer: If it’s your first time skiing Telluride, start your day off on See Forever. It’s one of the longest runs on the mountain and boasts breathtaking views all the way to Utah.
Secret stash: Captain Jack’s is a really fun tree run on lift 9. It’s dedicated to a local legend who passed away.
Best month to ski Telluride: March because there’s still great snow all over the mountain, it’s warm and you can ski in a hoodie.
Look for Gus Kenworthy to be a serious medal contender in the halfpipe and slopestyle events in Sochi.
Copyright: Atomic/Fabian Weber
Best month for powder: February.
Where to ski on a powder day: Take lift 8 from town to lift 9, then head over to lift 6. Once the back bowls open, spend the day between Gold Hill and Prospect. Another good choice is to stick to the often-overlooked face of the mountain and get fresh tracks on lift 7.
Best on-mountain dining: The Saloon at Gorrono’s. It’s great for a quick bite and drink.
Best on-mountain meal: The chili at the Saloon at Gorrono’s. Comes in a bread bowl, topped just the way you like it.
Best restaurant in town: La Cocina de Luz is awesome. It’s high-end, all organic Mexican food. For lunch, try a sandwich from Brown Bag or soup and a bagel from Baked in Telluride. For a nice dinner, go to the Cosmopolitan or the Chop House.
Best après: Oak, right at the bottom of lift 8.
Best breakfast: For an awesome weekend brunch, go to the Floradora. For a quick and healthy breakfast, try the Butcher and the Baker (get the breakfast burrito). For a cheap diner-style breakfast, hit Maggie’s Bakery.
Best hotel: The Camel’s Garden. The rooms, spa and location are unbeatable for a ski trip. Otherwise, the Sheridan Hotel is a true slice of Telluride history. It’s right downtown and in the same building as the Sheridan Opera House, Chop House restaurant and the New Sheridan Bar. Plus, there are hot tubs on the roof.
Insider secrets: On a powder day, wake up super early and put your skis at the front of the line for first chair, then go back to sleep or grab a coffee or breakfast. Return and click in just before the lifts open.
Best hot tub: The River Club.
Best ski shop? Paragon and Boot Doctor’s.
Best skis for skiing Telluride? For a ski that will excel in powder, trees on groomers and in the park, look no further than the Atomic Blogs.
If you are going to Telluride you should bring these things: Bring your old, unwanted clothing to Pip’s Fine and Funky Consignment. Pip is my mom and her store is always fun to check out. Also, don’t forget your camera. Telluride is one of the few places that it’s impossible to take a bad photo.