So you know that people really do win our competitions, last year's 'Golden Ticket' winner Despina Curtis has sent us some words and pictures from her all-expenses-paid trip to Winterpark, Colorado. Thanks Despina, glad you had a great time!
A year after that Golden ticket fell into my lap , flights were booked, boards were packed and my best friend and I were ready for the snowboard trip of a lifetime!
We arrived in Denver to see snow falling and welcomed by our friendly Crystal holiday rep Louise who handed us a fat envelope full of free vouchers for our week at Winter Park resort. We had free lift passes, a 5 hour lesson booked and our digs in the Zephyr lodge.
A few hours later, with the snow still dumping down we arrived at the Zephyr? Advertised as 'the closest to the slopes without sleeping outside' we were pretty chuffed to see the mountain on our doorstep an open fire and a hot tub the size of Wales just outside our balcony.
The next day we woke up to 7 inches of fresh snow, grabbed our boards and signed up to our group lessons.
We split for the day with different coaches and were pinching ourselves when we discovered that it being low season, we had an instructor to ourselves for the next 5 hours, and a free lunch thrown in at the top of the mountain.
Both instructors made the first day up the mountain awesome with their knowledge and enthusiasm. So we ended the day exhausted but laughing over a couple of après margueritas at the local dive bar.
The next 5 days were spent exploring the 'Seven Territories' of the resort. With over 158 trails, six terrain parks and endless tree runs there was enough variety to keep us both happy and challenged.
The 360 degree views from Parsen Bowl at over 12,000 ft were pretty breathtaking but the highlight of the riding week for me was being coached through Winter Parks endless tree runs. My buddy Ang started the trip having only experienced Milton Keynes snow dome and ended it linking turns and getting some air on the blue runs on our last day.
We left the terrain parks to our coaches and watched them jibbing from the sidelines.
The thing which left a lasting impression on us was the resorts commitment to accessibility and enjoyment for disabled skiers. The National Sports Centre for the disabled is based in Winter Park and we were awe inspired to see blind skiers and wheelchair users on every trail being guided by an amazing crew of volenteers.
Thanks Whitelines and Crystal Holidays.....we had an unforgettable week!!!