The Ski industry looks to reinvigorate female skiers-here’s how!

DSC00579What Women Want by Katie Kukar

The ski industry looks to reinvigorate the female skier population with better gear, a family friendly mountain and innovative ski school programs.

On a particularly sunny day, after a huge snowstorm dumped 18 inches of powder on Vail Mountain, my friends from Minnesota and I are perched above Morningside run watching tiny snowflakes drifting off the evergreens and sparkling and shimmering in the breeze.

The crisp, bright blue sky awakens the color of the trees and ski apparel, and the scent of clean, fresh air is all around us. The essence of the ski experience is days like this shared with friends.

My friends are enamored with the sunshine and views, expressing their joy with repeated comments of, “This is so gorgeous; what a beautiful day!” My skiing soul agrees; it’s a memorable day. All of us have skied our whole lives, and this is why we continue to ski.

Katie SkiingThe fresh, white powder of Morningside is a smooth, unbroken blanket of fluffy goodness, and it’s taunting me. I’m anticipating light, smooth turns carving through the powder, bouncing lightly in rhythm and peace. The view will come again; it’s time for “freshies!”

I’m lucky to have friends who enjoy skiing — women letting go of their families for some “girl time.” I learned this sport from my parents, and it’s an important gift. Skiing and snowboarding aren’t just sports; they provide a complete experience from the fresh air to action, excitement and majestic views.

Our day started around 9 a.m. with secret powder stashes, and now rubber legs ensue, so we take a break at The 10th, Vail’s newest on-mountain restaurant. The 10th is perfect for my crowd in search of ambiance, cozy blankets, champagne, buffalo chili and a fireplace. The 10th has a warming room for hanging ski jackets and helmets, clean bathrooms offering sunblock and hair dryers, and comfy slippers available after freeing your feet from ski boots.

Kelly, Jen and I stretch out on overstuffed loungers around the fire, covered in soft blankets. Tired legs, warm feet, happy hearts, tasty bubbly and expressive conversation. We are lucky women for this experience and the one on the slopes.


Our conversation eases into recent statistics showing a decline in women skiing and snowboarding. Other women skiers mention having no friends and family who ski or snowboard, uncomfortable equipment, lost confidence and waning joy for the sport.

Both Kelly and Jen are mothers and suspect the amount of effort getting families prepared for skiing is a deterrent. Both women ski with their families because their husbands actively participate in the organization of family ski days and ski vacations, and this greatly increases their excitement for skiing and snowboarding.

Hauling equipment can be a deterrent for visiting mothers, but many Vail lodging properties now offer ski valet services.

“What do you like about skiing?” I ask. Jen Canton, an avid skier and frequent Vail visitor, smiles like a kid ramping up, recalling the most amazing story ever! Straightening her back, legs rooted to the floor, gently setting down her glass, she says, “It’s more fun than the gym, thrilling, aesthetic, graceful, competitive and therapeutic.” She breathes and starts again: “I love the fresh air and views from the mountain tops you just don’t get access to anywhere else. I enjoy working on my style and maintaining that smooth style in small bumps and crud. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.”

Kelly Vickers nods in agreement. Kelly lived in Vail for three years and taught skiing at Afton Alps, a recent Vail Resorts ski area acquisition in Minnesota. Kelly jokes, “The ski resorts should chronicle our current ski day as a marketing tool and women would flock to skiing and Vail. Fresh powder, groomed blue runs, ocean-blue sky, warm temps, sophisticated lunch spot and a spa day with shopping time.”  

VR-3-ladies.Jack-Affleck.webAs adults and mothers, Kelly and Jen love family ski trips. We also agree that a fantastic ski day with girlfriends is precious. It’s our friends and families we thank for introducing us to skiing since all of us learned as children. Skiing and snowboarding are family sports.

“The best part of family ski trips for mothers is children’s excitement about skiing. When they ski a black run for the first time, you cannot contain their enthusiasm. When they ski the whole run without falling, they are so proud!” Kelly says.

Vail local Alan Sandberg says, “The best part of my day is skiing with my daughter and her friends. They are good little skiers, like to try new terrain because they are young and fearless. I learn so much about my daughter on the chairlift, when I talk to her or listen to her talk to her friends. There are no cell phones, no iPads, no TV. We talk about the last run, what’s happening in school, about their friends, their dreams and thoughts. We bond doing something we both love, and it’s a rare opportunity. It’s valuable intel on their personality. It’s precious time.”


Kelly, Jen and I pay the bill and wander to the warming room to prepare for more fresh powder skiing. Squeezing back into my boots, groaning, since I need a new pair, Kelly perks up and says, “Amazing you even ski with those torture chambers on. Why don’t you get a new pair?”

My problem is taking time out of my ski day to shop for equipment, and duct tape is pretty these days. Other women have expressed having crappy or dated equipment as a deterrent to skiing. The right equipment makes all the difference to an enjoyable ski experience.

The good news for women is ski and snowboard manufacturers have listened and taken into account the differences between women and men skiers and snowboarders, according to Jeannie Thoren. Jeannie is a local women’s ski shop owner, originally from Minnesota and considered to be a pioneer of women’s skiing.

“There is fantastic equipment designed specifically for women’s body types. The shape and makeup of skis and snowboards make it easier and more fun. Women are not small men, a previous idea directing manufacturers. Bindings on women’s skis are mounted differently for better support and control. Proper boots are imperative; needed for good support and comfort. Heal lifts help with posture.” While talking, she eye’s my ski boots and says, “Nice duct tape; come see me.” Patting me on the shoulder, she strides into the crowd.

Companies like K2 and Burton use lighter material for their women’s skis and snowboards since women are typically lighter than men. Pushing around heavier equipment is challenging. The skis and snowboards are softer, giving the equipment flex so women can easily control and engage the equipment. The placement of bindings on skis and the size of the bindings for snowboards also changed since women have a lower center of gravity.

GETTING OUT THERESki instructoe shot

The ski day continues at the Red Lion and local ski instructor Georgia Norgren joins us for a drink. Georgia thinks, “Women’s lack of confidence in their skiing and snowboarding ability is a big deterrent for continuing with snow sports.”

Through an accident, a quick fearful incident or age, women lose their confidence. “I recommend women take a half-day lesson from one of Vail’s highly qualified female ski instructors,” she says with a proud smile. “A morning half-day lesson is a perfect refresher course making the afternoon available for practice. If they feel they need more, take another half-day lesson. Building confidence for the skier or snowboarder is part of the instruction and often the right ski run changes the confidence.”

What about equipment I ask? “Oh, for sure women need the right equipment. More than five years, it’s too old. The right equipment makes it more enjoyable!”

These are a few of the reasons why fewer women are skiing. What is the industry and Vail Resorts doing to address these issues? The snow sports Industry created the Bring a Friend Challenge, encouraging skiers and snowboarders to get friends and family to take a lesson.

Vail Resorts has created a number of new programs and products available for the 2014-15 ski season.

Skiing and snowboarding are family sports, social sports and provide opportunities to see the world and the mountains. Everyone should have a chance to look over Vail’s Back Bowls; friends and family surrounding them and jump into knee deep powder or zip down a freshly groomed run. Seeing the Rocky Mountains in every direction, covered with snow and the bright Colorado sun jazzing up every living thing and sitting by the fire with friends after a gorgeous ski day. That is skiing and snowboarding and a lifetime of experiences.



Explore Haunted Breckenridge

Gail and I.Looking for something different to do right in the hart of Breckenridge’s historic downtown? Well, we have the answer. Check out Ghostly Tales and explore the darker side of Breckenridge on a 90-minute ghost hunt.

They will entertain you with Ghostly Tales of Breckenridge’s past in the warmth of four of our popular eating and drinking establishments.  The tour will introduce you to such characters as Sylvia, the lonely widow; William Goodwin, the mangled miner; Dr. Condon, the cold blooded killer; and Miss Whitney, the lady of the evening. They will also provide ghost-hunting equipment to help you find their ghosts. Recommended for the older kids.

Not up for a haunted tour? That’s okay, they also offer a wild west experience where you can step back into time with Breckenridge’s Gold Rush History and the residents that shaped Breckenridge.  A historic walking tour that is sure to expose the more historic aspects of Breckenridge.

Check out their website at or give them a ring at (970) 485-2894.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Nordic Sleigh Rides Provides Fun for All Ages


With an abundance of family friendly activities in Breckenridge, your family should add Nordic Sleigh Rides to your list of things to do. Located just 9 miles from Breckenridge’s Main Street, Nordic Sleigh Rides offer a secluded experience through the White River National Forest.

A hearty dinner and theater show awaits at the end of your horse drawn winter sleigh ride to a recreated Colorado gold mining camp.  The big, beautiful and gentle draft horses will carry you through snow covered hills and winding winter trails.  Once you arrive at your destination about 25 minutes later, you will be greeted by our professional actors and live entertainment.  A mixture of fact and fiction, each show includes authentic costumes and props and draws on Breckenridge’s unique history. Once the show is over, dinner is ready.  Plates are heaped with generous portions of delicious and hearty food – just like the miners of yesteryear, only better!!

Looking for something for just mom and dad? Nordic Sleigh Rides offers a private sleigh ride perfect for a romantic getaway or to celebrate a special occasion, just for two.  What could be more romantic than cuddling under a blanket, being whisked through a winter wonderland on your one-hour private sleigh ride?

Whatever your pleasure, Nordic Sleigh Rides will provide an unforgettable memory of your vacation. If you’re looking to capture those moments, ask about their on site photographer that will be sure to dazzle you with photographs of your adventure. Check out Nordic Sleigh Rides at or give them a call at (970) 453-2005.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Family Travel Tips: Breckenridge, CO…And Don’t Forget the Kids


Keystone, Colorado

Parents often ask me; should we travel to a ski town with kids?  The short answer is yes. There are tons of great activities for kiddos at most ski resorts and Breckenridge has no shortage of fun for the whole family.

If you’re traveling with infants or toddlers, you may first ask yourself, how do I get all my baby gear to Breckenridge?  The answer is, you don’t.  MountainTot Gear can provide everything you need including strollers, cribs, high chairs, and toys.  They deliver all your items before you arrive and come pick it up after you leave.  So easy and convenient, don’t sacrifice the comforts of home.

Once you arrive in Breckenridge, you won’t be disappointed at the activities for the kids.  Head on over to the Mountain Top Children’s Museum and spend some time exploring their educational exhibits.  Mountain Top promotes informal learning through interactive exhibits and programs, imaginative play and engagement in active experiences for children ages 10 and under.

Looking for something more active for the entire family?  Check out TrekBreck.  They offer guided family snowshoe tours in the local area.  You can snowshoe on a secluded trail to an abandoned mine and explore the equipment used hundreds of years ago by Colorado miners.  If you can walk, you can snowshoe. This is truly an adventure the entire family can enjoy.

Maybe it’s time for some adult time away or maybe just a night out.  MountainTot Sitters can help you relax and unwind by providing in-room/home babysitting and child care at your lodging location.  Their sitters are all 21 or older, possess background checks and CPR certification and are all local to the area. You deserve some time to yourselves after a busy day with the kids. Let their sitters come to you.


MountainTot Sitters

This is just a snapshot of the activities and services available to families traveling to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain or the surrounding area.  Breckenridge is an excellent family destination, so pack the luggage and don’t forget the kids.  Head to Breckenridge this winter and enjoy!



About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Let your kids release their creative minds in Breckenridge, CO

Ready-Paint-Fire-2Ready, Paint, Fire is a great Breckenridge destination for families looking to explore their creative side. The offer regularly scheduled events and camps or you can just drop in and see what’s happening.  Whether your medium is ceramics, canvas or glass they have something for all ages.

Paint Your Own Pottery, Canvas Painting and Mosaics are available all day every day. Glass Fusing & Slumping is offered regularly as evening workshops and at quieter times throughout the year. We have regular Evening Events for adults from 7pm ’til late. Canvas Painting Parties and Glass Fusing Workshops are a fun alternative night out in Breck. Get creative socially with friends or discover something new!”

They also have a great Keystone location in River Run that opens on December 13.  Check them out, your kids will love you for it.

About the Author

Mike McGoff is an avid skier, outdoor enthusiast, blogger, father, business owner, Breckenridge local, and the co-founder and owner of MountainTot Gear and MountainTot Sitters in Breckenridge, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter @MountainTot or visit me on Facebook @MountainTot.

Zip lining in and around Summit County

 zip line, flying over the train, DSC_8181

Zip Lining in Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and in the Back Country.  By Lu Snyder

Summit County, loves adventure. We’ve got skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, rafting, kayaking, climbing – you name it. And now, we’ve got ziplines to add to the list, too.

Fly over water

Copper Mountain’s Alpine Rush Zip Line gives guests an opportunity to soar 300 feet across West Lake, at speeds up to 30 miles-per-hour. The dueling design of the zipline allows two guests to race each other across the lake.

Be warned: In the summer, West Lake is often busy with bumper boats, equipped with big squirt guns and you might get sprayed as you fly above them. 

The start of Copper’s zipline is conveniently located on the patio of Sugar Lips, a miniature donut shop. Stop by before your zip for crispy, warm, sweet treat to fuel your zipline adventure.

Down the mountain

With Breckenridge Resort’s new TenMile Flyer, you’ll have the chance to zip along one of the resort’s ski runs. You’ll ride the Rips Ride chairlift up and take two ziplines for a total distance of almost 1,500 feet toward the base of Breckenridge’s Peak 8. 

The first section, which extends about 400 feet, allows two people to zip next to each other. A quad span, the second length allows four people to travel side by side, so the whole family can zip together.

Set high above the town of Breckenridge, Peak 8 offers magnificent views of the town, Mt. Baldy and Guyot to the east and the Ten Mile Range above. 

In the backcountry

If there is one word to describe Top of the Rockies’ zipline experience, it’s rugged. 

Located in the quiet, remote valley between Fremont Pass and Leadville, just outside Summit County and on the west side of the Mosquito Range, the zipline spans across the company’s 2,500-acre property. From Highway 91, you can see the 100-foot tower in the meadows nearby, but not much else. That’s because the zipline, which includes five sections, travels through the forest, over the train tracks (and, if you time it right, over the Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad train), over deep canyons, streams and wetlands, and past old mining claims.

Typically, guests take an old military truck to the start of the zipline, at more than 11,000-feet above sea level, though there is an option to take the train instead if you prefer. Once at base camp, you’ll have safety briefing and a test run on a safety zipline. The ziplines are not continuous, so this tour includes strolling through the forest, from one tower to another.

“All the trails are downhill,” says Judith Gilman, General Manager with White Mountain Tours, so they are fairly easy. “The views in every direction are spectacular. You can’t see any houses or condos or hotels. You’re going to see every kind of critter up there. This is a beautiful, totally unspoiled backcountry area.”

This summer, White Mountain Tours is adding a sixth section to its zipline, for a total length of more than 9,000 feet and an elevation drop of about 1,200 feet. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. The entire experience is a progression, says Gilman, and the zipline features double cables for safety and an automatic braking system to ensure a gentle landing.

“It’s great for families,” she says.

Go to or call (800) 247-7238.

Horseback riding in Beaver Creek Co.

Horse back riding in Beaver Creek

So you want to take your family horseback riding in the gorgeous and majestic mountains of Colorado.

We have some suggestions on how to make that happen for you! One of our favorite stables and one that’s close to town. Town meaning Beaver Creek, Vail, Avon and Edwards is Beaver Creek Stables.

It’s right up in Beaver creek and is perfect for a ride with top views, but it’s location is perfect, and you can do full or half day rides.

They have 1 hour, 2 hours or a Picnic ride. Also offered is the all day ride to Beaver Lake that includes deli-style lunch and fishing equipment for the lake.

Extra fun and options include Sunset Dinner Rides to Beano’s cabin on horseback or wagon.

Beaver Creek Stables offers shorter rides, giving you the opportunity for exploration Beaver Creek Village. Depending on your ride times, there are numerous lunch and dinner spots or do a little shopping and if you are feeling ambitious go for a bike ride or a hike.

Activities galore for an entire family up in the “beav” as the locals call it. Ok, swell, but let’s stick to the horseback riding.

One of the main reasons, other than the views we like Beaver Creek Stables is they have ponies for kids, 6 and under, which parents can lead around the corral as long as they want. That’s a fantastic feature not available at many stables.

Lucky for you they have a coupon for a Free Pony Ride and Free Children’s Cowboy Hat. Yes, you read correctly free ride free hat. I guess we will see you there!

For Reservations call 970-845-7770 or check them out online at

Our other local stable is Bear Cat Stables outside Edwards on the road to Cordillera.

Options galore at Bear Cat Stables! Where to start??? Ok, let’s start with Tuesday night Chuck Wagon Dinner? It’s Fine Food with Family Fun. Easy location, quietly tucked up in the mountains, character driven dining and riding facilities.

The other option available is Back Country Rides that travel through the White River national Forest. 2 Choices of 3 hour or 4 hour ride- includes lunch. This is a lifetime opportunity!

Why drive to Aspen when you can ride a horse! We are serious; you do have that option with Bearcat Stables. A true experience of the old west experience. You will be shocked by the scenery on this trek.

If you just need a taste of riding they have the stable rides throughout Cordillera’s Bearden Homestead.

Guess what??? You are in luck we have a coupon for $5 off trail rides at Bearcat Stables trail rides.

Here is the phone number to call to make reservations 970-926-1578. Make sure you mention the coupon, so you get a discount.

IF you want more information check out their website

horse back riding in Beaver Creek







Jazz for families in Vail

Jazz for families in vail

Photo by Charles Townsend

You might hear more jazz than ever this summer if the Vail Jazz Foundation has anything to say about it. Last year, Jammin’ Jazz Kids, a summer spin-off of the Jazz Goes to School program, was an instant hit at the Vail Farmers’ Market. Such a hit, as a matter of fact, it will be offered every Sunday in July. If your little jazz player wants more, check out the additional program on Mondays.

“On Mondays, we are partnering with Vail Rec offering and offering an expanded version, more in-depth,” says Robin Litt, the Vail Jazz Foundation’s Executive Director. 

She adds that the Monday classes are for kids ages 8 to 15 and will be 90 minutes in length and will be different each week, allowing kids to really get a feel for all aspects of jazz. While they will build on the Sunday classes, it’s not required to attend both.

“It gives kids a hands-on opportunity to really feel what making music is all about, they learn the basic underlying themes of jazz, rhythm and improvisation,” Litt says. 

The kids will explore Latin instruments one week, a drum circle, maybe handmade instruments – the details are being finalized but you can bet it’ll be a hour-and-a-half class with a performance at Vail Square at the end. 

The free Sunday program begins at 11 a.m. with registration at 10:45. “Kids get real hands-on with various instruments,” Litt explains. Monday programs will take place at the VRD’s Community Room in Lionshead and will start with registration at 10:15. And it’s easy listenin’ for the parents since the instruments are ‘orph’ instruments – no one can hit a bad note. Parents can drop the kids for the hour-and-a-half class, but will probably want to be back in time to hear the end-of-class performance.

Definitely not a flash in the pan, the Vail Jazz Foundation was founded almost two decades ago by Henry Stone with the Weekend Jazz Party in Vail. It grew from there and now offers a 12-week summer festival with 50,000 jazz enthusiasts, a workshop which has contributed to the jazz musicianship of nearly 200 outstanding jazz musician, a winter series of jazz concerts and a school program that has educated over 14,000 students in Eagle County through its Jazz Goes to School program.

 The Vail Jazz Foundation’s mission is to perpetuate jazz music through live performances that showcase the artistry and talent of great jazz musicians, and through jazz education, with a focus on young musicians and young audiences. 

The foundation does just that through Jazz Goes to School program, providing young musicians the chance to learn all about jazz. The organization has been inspiring fourth and fifth graders for 16 years now. Kids love it – they get to be immersed in the music with some local jazz greats. The group took the tenets of this successful and sought-after program and applied it to the free interactive program at the Farmers’ Market, Litt says. 

Inspired? Grab your hat, find your rhythm and be ready to hear the sweet sounds of jazz.

Want to learn more? Check out Monday jam sessions will cost $20 for visitors with discount for Eagle County students. Registration will take place in advance and day-of, but space is limited to 30 students. 

Family events at the Vail International Dance Festival

Vail International Dance FestivalThis is a listing of the events happening at the Vail International Dance Festival that are best for families. 

Opening Night July 27

As a preview of several short performances starring the festival’s featured artists, this is an ideal opportunity to get a glimpse of the variety of talent, including a solid dose of classic ballet with a closing performance by Pennsylvania Ballet doing George Balanchine’s Rubies.

International Evenings of Dance, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2

Here the variety of performances spans the globe with riveting classic ballet by Tiler Peck and New York City Ballet, Shantala Shivalingappa’s hypnotizing Indian Kuchipudi, a performance by famed Taiwanese dancer Fang-Yi Sheu and the jaw-dropping Memphis jookin’ of street dancer Lil Buck, almost guaranteed to have children instantly attempting to copy his liquid moves, as the man has an uncanny ability to transform his limbs into water and leap effortlessly into a series of back flips – captivating for viewers of all ages.

Dance for $20.14

Another high-energy sampler, this affordable evening brings some of the best spontaneous moments of the festival, including a taste of ballet, the theatrical performances of Philadelphia contemporary dance company BalletX and more Memphis jookin.’ 

Dance TV Aug. 9

If anyone in your family enjoys watching Dancing with the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance it doesn’t get more exciting than bringing those same stars to life at Gerald Ford Amphitheater. Latin-style dance star Anna Trebunskaya, versatile ballet (plus tap, hip-hop, jazz, you name it) dancer Alex Wong, last summer’s charming and talented So You Think You Can Dance darling Amy Yakima and the show’s Season 10 winner Fik-Shun Stegall are all in the lineup. 

Around town July 27-Aug. 9

To get even closer to festival stars, Lil Buck, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild will be among many dancing in the stree. Performances will be ongoing throughout the festival in front of Solaris. Buck has been known to wow the crowd with super human gymnastics, hand-walking and coaching of mass dance ensembles recruiting curious young spectators. There will also be a number of Village Vignettes, offering eye-level, condensed renditions of the hypnotizing stage performances.

Vail International Dance Festival young audience draw

photo by Erin Baiano

photo by Erin Baiano

Growing up dancing Damian Woetzel on Vail International Dance Festival’s draw for young audiences  By Shauna Farnell

Given that children love to dance – as evidenced by the constant presence of twirling toddlers on the lawn at Gerald Ford Amphitheater, even during the most serious of  Bravo! classical music performances – the Vail International Dance Festival has an innate draw for families. 

Festival director Damian Woetzel knows a bit about the appeal dance can have to a child. It begins with simple movements and the utopia that comes with putting movements together and learning from the fluid movement of the world’s best dancers. 

Retired Principal Dancer at the New York City Ballet, Woetzel was actually drawn to the stage slowly as a small child. Dance wasn’t immediately his calling but simply one of the hobbies his parents were trying out on him.

“I started ballet when I was 4 years old, but only once a week … if that,” he recalls. “Once a year I was in The Nutcracker and that would get me out on the stage for a month.  I was very lucky in that I was introduced to a lot of different options for things to try – musical instruments and different activities not meant to be a life choice, just a well-rounded, cultural education. Ballet was one of those and it grew to overtake the rest. There was something about the dancing that was more potent to me.”

vail international dance festival

Photo by Erin Baiano

The stage and the excitement of being applauded for his grace and artful movements was addictive. By the time Woetzel was 11, he was so entranced by dance that he would study the pros at every possible opportunity. He even maneuvered his way into local theaters in Boston just to be immersed in the scene.

“The physicality of it, the movements, I liked that. It was an achievement as I got better, being on a stage and performing,” he recalls. “When I turned 11, it became a six-day-a-week commitment. I would go to everything I could, everything that was happening.  I would sneak into theaters. I knew my way around the theater in Boston, so I would pretend I knew what I was doing and make my way through where the staff and performers entered the building.”

Also, Woetzel’s own talent began to shine. It became progressively recognized as he grew into his teens and went on to take starring roles in the film rendition of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Dinner with Balanchine and then, of course, his 50-plus feature roles in The New York City Ballet’s massive repertoire of performances.

When he retired from the stage in 2008 there was an outpouring of recognition and high-profile sendoffs written up in The New York Times, Vanity Fair and The Telegraph. But he could have never imagined this future during his time as a young boy when the ballet was growing on him, and he with it.

“I remember being in a boys class on Saturday mornings when I was first at Boston Ballet school at age 7, which was very unusual though I didn’t know it at the time. What happened later of course is that there were fewer boys. But there was always that sense of specialness.  I knew it wasn’t the most normal thing to do but it was what I got attention for and I became committed to dancing. By the time I was 12, I was convinced that this was my life’s work,” Woetzel says.

vail international dance festival

Photo by Erin Baiano

After performing with the New York City Ballet for more than 20 years, Woetzel took on the role of director and choreographer, and in addition to his work with the Vail International Dance Festival over the last eight years, he has produced and directed numerous events and performances in New York City and throughout the country, even at the White House, where President Obama appointed him to the President’s Committee on The Arts and Humanities.

Woetzel has worked extensively introducing dance to students, launching mentorships and children’s programs across the country, including Celebrate the Beat, the local nonprofit organization focused on teaching and inspiring Vail Valley students through dance and artistic expression.

Seasoning the next generation of dancers and dance enthusiasts is always a consideration for Woetzel as he formulates each summer’s International Dance Festival, and in looking at the 2014 lineup, there are several performances he believes are ideal for families and young audiences. 

“To me the point has to be to have range of appeal, to make the festival an immersive thing. It’s not just what goes on the stage, but also the fact that we have people dancing in the streets. We want kids there interacting with the professionals,” Woetzel says. “There are a couple of very entry-level performances for families new to dance and the lawn is an incredible opportunity to come any night.”

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