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8 ways to have fun skiing this weekend

Skiing has been pretty epic this season. Cool, new gear. Fresh powder dumps—and having those dumps usually come just in time for the weekend. Ski conditions better than you’ve seen in a few years—in most places. It’s good to get out on the mountain.

This weekend is no exception. With spring right around the corner, ski resorts are gearing up for plenty of entertainment that doesn’t require being on skis all day. Sure, you can make turns on these mountains from lifts open to lifts close, but you can do so much more than ski your favorite resort.

Here are some of those events happening at ski resorts around the country.

You know the snow has to be good at Alta when the Utah resort opens East Castle. Alta announced on Facebook that East Castle opened earlier in the week. This spot on the mountain is usually the last of Alta’s terrain to open—because of avalanche potential, ski patrol has to wait until the snow pack stabilizes to drop the ropes. But it’s well worth the wait to ski East Castle with its vast snowfield, more vertical than Devil’s Castle and High Rustler, and ability to still produce fresh turns days after a storm.

Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20 but Aspen is getting the season started early with the 14th annual Bud Light Spring Jam, which runs from March 14 to March 23. Spring Jam brings two weekends of competitions, concerts and parties to Aspen/Snowmass including a terrain park boot camp, the Fallen Friends Memorial Event, and KickAspen Big Air where skiers and snowboarders show their tricks under the lights at Aspen Mountain.

Crested Butte
Just blame the full moon for an event-filled weekend at Crested Butte. When it's a full moon, the Crested Butte Nordic Center offers a ski or snowshoe under the bright lunar light to a yurt dinner. And unlike other winter full moons, March's moon means yurt dinners on Friday and Saturday night. But that's just the start of the weekend. Crested Butte also hosts the Ski Mountaineering National Championship and Backcountry Magazine's Basecamp tour March 15-16. The ski mountaineering championship brings racers from across North America to compete on CB's tough terrain; they'll climb the guide ridge up Mt. Crested Butte and then ski down a marked course. At Basecamp, $20,000 worth of gear will be on hand for guests to demo and possibly win in a raffle that benefits the Crested Butte Ski Patrol dogs and the IAN Fund.

Sandwiched between Vail and Beaver Creek, the town of Minturn can be viewed as a quiet retreat from everything happening at the resorts. But all eyes are on Minturn this weekend when the town hosts Rocky Mountain Ski Joring, a two-day outdoor event that’s worth taking a shorter ski day to check out. Why? Because ski joring, where the rodeo meets the mountain meets water skiing (sort of), is one of those sports you have to see to believe at least once. At this event, you’ll see skiers mounting their skis to be dragged through town behind horses. Crazy, right?

Reno resident David Wise made skiing the halfpipe at the Sochi Winter Olympics look easy. He got air, dropped tricks and ultimately took home the gold medal the first time the freeskiing halfpipe was contested at the Olympic Games. Wise already had one homecoming when he returned home from Sochi, but he'll get another one at Northstar this weekend. On Saturday, March 15, the resort will have events throughout the day to honor the Northstar pro team skier and celebrate Wise's gold medal win. Check out all the details on Northstar's event page.

Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Maybe a day strictly on skis isn't always enough to tire you out. That might seem impossible to fathom, but surely some skiers know the feeling where your legs still have more juice in them when you get off the mountain. For those endurance junkies, check out the Powderhorn Triple Play (PH3) Race on Sunday, March 16, where competitors choose to bike, skin or snowshoe, or ski, tele or ride. Racers start with a 8.35-mile, 2,627-foot vertical gain cycling stage from Mesa, Colo., to Powderhorn Resort. Then racers transition to skinning or snowshoeing to tackle the 2.03-mile, 1,741-foot elevation gain to Powderhorn's summit. Finally, racers ski, tele or ride down to the finish, which is a 1.44-mile descent with a 1,543-foot vertical drop.

Stratton Mountain Ski Resort
How many runs can you ski in 24 hours? Or how many hours can you ski before you need to take a break and let a teammate take over? Vermont's Stratton Mountain challenges skiers and snowboarders to track the most vertical from 12 p.m. Saturday, March 15, to 12 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the second running of the 24 Hours of Stratton. It sounds crazy and it sounds tough, but it also sounds like Stratton is all about keeping the energy levels high at this endurance challenge with fireworks, parties and plenty of entertainment.

Sunlight Mountain Resort
You still have to wait a few weeks for resorts to roll out their annual pond skims, but you can get a head start on the competition by practicing jumps over a hot tub this weekend at Sunlight Mountain. Crystal River Spas sponsors a rail jam where participants can execute jumps over a hot tub filled with people and compete for $1,000 in prizes. Sunlight also has the Annual Colorado Animal Rescue Poochie Poker Run, a benefit to raise money for four-legged friends who need a home, where guests could win a season pass to the resort for next season.

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