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9 reasons to hit the slopes and ski this weekend

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Your calendar is so full you're lucky you have time to sleep. You're still recovering from the latest round of holiday parties. You desperately need a break from holiday shopping and decorating and baking. You're wishing Santa brings you tons of time to ski this Christmas--but you'd really like to hit the snow this weekend.

Need a reason to ditch the holiday festivities and ski this weekend? How about nine:

At Aspen
Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk open for the season on Dec. 14, bringing the total opening acreage to more than 4,600 acres between these two mountains plus Aspen Mountain and Snowmass. Thanks to a round of cold weather and snowfall, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk are starting their seasons with more than 90 percent of their terrain available for skiing. “An opening like this comes along once in a generation. Get out and enjoy it so you have something to tell your grandkids about,” said Rich Burkley, vice president mountain operations, Aspen Skiing Company. “There really is no better place anywhere to be skiing and riding this weekend.” For more details on current conditions and to see an up-to-date view of Aspen/Snowmass, check out the newly installed Roundshot panoramic cameras at www.aspensnowmass.com/the-power-of-four/roundshot.

At Beaver Creek
The World Cup races may have cleared out of town, but that could be viewed as a good thing for anyone wishing to tear up the mountain on skis. On Saturday, Beaver Creek opened Arrowhead, Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl, bringing its total terrain open to 1,406 acres.

In Big Sky
This Montana resort that boasts the biggest skiing in America, thanks to acquiring the terrain of Moonlight Basin, Spanish Peaks and Spirit Mountain earlier this year, turns 40 on Dec. 15. And what better to celebrate 40 years of Big Sky than by going retro for the entire weekend. Daily lift tickets will be $40 all weekend. Milton Menasco will be playing at Whiskey Jack's on December 14. Lone Peak Brewery brewed a special beer, "Retro Red Ale," available in cans throughout the Resort's establishments and on tap at select locations for the occasion and all winter. Plus there's birthday cake, ice cream, and the best 70s-style ski costumes. Check out more details on Big Sky's 40th birthday party here.

At Breckenridge
Breckenridge is the only winter stop of the Dew Tour, and world class freeskiers and snowboarders have been competing on the mountain since Thursday, with some vying for spots on the U.S. Olympic Team. This official Olympic selection event is worth watching simply to see names like Shaun White, Kelly Clark, Bobby Brown, Anna Segal, Eric Willett, James Woods, Zack Black, Keri Herman, David Wise, Maddie Bowman, Chas Guldemond, and Jamie Anderson take to Breck's world-renowned Freeway park and pipe. Read more about the Dew Tour at www.breckenridge.com/events/dew-tour.

At Crested Butte
Crested Butte's been in a fierce battle to win Powder magazine's Ski Town Throwdown. A photo posted on Friday showed that the mountain town won by less than 100 votes, congrats Crested Butte! Maybe it's in celebration or maybe it's because the weather has been kind to skiers, but the resort announced it was opening more terrain this morning. Monument, Championship, and the Blood Forest are now open as well as the Painterboy terrain park. And this afternoon you'll find 200 Santas skiing down the mountain at the Santa Crawl.

At Lake Tahoe
The lifts at Alpine Meadows started spinning on Friday, December 13. According to a Facebook post from its neighbor Squaw Valley, Santa was reporting epic conditions for the first day, plus you could ski top to bottom, ride the Squaw/Alpine Express or hit the Far East. For more information, check out Alpine's early season operations page.

At Telluride
It's cold, it's snowy, it's almost Christmas. And at Telluride that means it's time for the town's First Annual Winter Fest, a collaboration of TMVOA, the Town of Mountain Village and the local merchants. A tree lighting, sledding and visits with Santa kicked off the festivities on Dec. 13, but the fun continues all weekend long with free parking in select spots, free ice skating, holiday music and entertainment, and dining specials. It'll be easy to get into the holiday spirit if you swing through here after skiing for the day. Read more about Winter Fest here.

At Vail
Vail's big anniversary celebration was this weekend one year ago when it turned 50. But turning 51 is no reason not to celebrate. The resort is hosting its annual Snow Daze where there's plenty of skiing during the day and free concerts at night. Running from Dec. 9-15, Vail Snow Daze is back for its seventh year as the largest early-season mountain bash in North America. Big Head Todd and the Monsters with Matisyahu will be performing tonight at Ford Park, and plenty of other events are happening throughout the village. For more details, check out blog.vail.com/vail-snow-daze-2013.

At Winter Park
Winter Park has declared this year the Season of the Seven, showcasing the seven distinct territories available for skiing between Winter Park and Mary Jane. Ringing in at 12,000 feet up is Parsenn Bowl Territory, home to North America's highest six passenger chairlift. The terrain opened on Friday, December 13, bringing Winter Park's open acreage to more than 1,000 and providing breathtaking views of the Rockies to skiers and riders.

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