herd of racers in a Skimo USSMA race at Eldora
Skimo racers line up at a 2019 event; (photo/Tom Winter)

The Winter Mountain Games Return to Vail in February

The high-energy GoPro Mountain Games energized summers in the Vail Valley for the last decade. Now, the Winter Mountain Games lands back in town after a long hiatus.

The last time the Winter Mountain Games came to Colorado’s Vail Valley was in 2013. It was only the second year of the event, but it dissolved and never re-emerged.

In the intervening 9 years, the summer GoPro Mountain Games have dominated the outdoor sports festival scene in the valley. Historically held over 5 days, competitions in kayaking, trail running, mountain biking, and more draw athletes from around the world.

The Winter Games return this February. This year’s event will be a limited rollout from Feb. 25 to 27. The slate will serve as a preview of next year’s festivities, which will be its official debut.

On the schedule this year: three separate skimo races, fat biking and cross-country snowshoeing competitions, an ice climbing demo, a 5K snowshoe dog derby, and plenty of partying. Live music and other spectator-driven events are scheduled, and the whole weekend is dog-friendly.

(photo/Vail Valley Foundation)

Ski mountaineers can pick from between an individual distance event covering four uphills and four downhills through the famous Back Bowls, a sprint competition with a brutal uphill and downhill on Vail’s steepest terrain, and a grueling, uphill-only vertical slog up Golden Peak.

The Vail Mountain Games showcase fringe sports. Summer events range from slacklining to SUPing. Past winter events have included nordic racing and, believe it or not, telemark big air.

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The 2023 official debut will build on this February’s foundational schedule.

“This year, everyone will get a taste of just how awesome this event is going to be,” Dave Dressman, event director of the Mountain Games for the Vail Valley Foundation, told Ski Mag.

“We’ll have a great lineup of concerts and a weekend of competition, art, and lifestyle celebration that will be a very bright part of this winter in the Rockies. Then in 2023, we’ll turn it up yet another notch with additional competitions and events.”

Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.