It was the day after Christmas, Thursday December 26, 2019 at 12:30 pm. Professional mogul skier and The Inn at Riverwalk’s Resident Athlete, Tess Johnson, stood squinting with a smile on her face turned upwards towards Centennial Chair Lift in Beaver Creek Resort. She explained her excitement, noting that although she is from the Vail Valley and skis consistently up to 11 months each year, she hasn’t skied Beaver Creek Mountain in 5 years.
Equally (if not more) excited was a group of participants, eager to kick off the first annual Ski with Tess event. Participants came from all over – Florida, Boulder, Summit County, even just down the street. They ranged in age from 9 to 49. Some were competitive mogul skiers while some just enjoy a good challenge. What they all had in common that day was they were ready for an incredible day. And an incredible day they had.
With a Beaver Creek ski instructor and professional photographer Chris Powell in tow, the newly introduced crew of 9 hopped on the chair lift while chattering away about Tess, skiing, and life in the mountains.
Once at the top of the lift, they regrouped and made a plan. Head straight to Larkspur and into the mogul fields. It became immediately clear two participants were there for a reason. Chase and Alexander are local competitive mogul skiers, both with aspirations to make it big like Tess Johnson. These 9 and 10 year olds spend hours and sometimes full days each week honing their skills in order to have the opportunity to someday compete on a world stage. Their determination to keep up with Tess was visible. With some words of encouragement and fist bumps from Tess, the two youngsters were following her lines through mogul fields in no time.
After a few laps on Larkspur, the group set their sights on Grouse Mountain, where much of the afternoon was spent. An unspoken skiing order formed. Usually Tess chose a line and zoomed down first with the youngest 2 kids on her heels, who were followed by the mildly more cautious adults and ski instructor. Our photographer was the lone snowboarder of the group who often made his way down ahead of the pack, laid in the snow, and prepared to capture action shots.
After 3 hours of fun and skiing, the sun started to slip behind the mountains. Quads were burning, chests were heaving and smiles were huge. We’d call that a successful day.
The Inn at Riverwalk and Tess Johnson host 3 community events each year. Keep an eye on our social media pages for announcements, photos and updates.