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Telluride Gay Ski Week: Gay Biz Brings Boom to Old Gold Mining Town

Telluride Gay Ski Week: Gay Biz Brings Boom to Old Gold Mining Town

More than 1000 attendees hit the powder February 20 to 27 for T-10, otherwise know as Telluride Gay Ski Week 2010to enjoy the nation’s top-ranked ski week, now in its seventh year.

More than 1000 attendees hit the powder February 20 to 27for T-10, otherwise know as Telluride Gay Ski Week 2010, to enjoy the nation’s top-ranked ski week, now in its seventh year.

“We had our biggest year ever in ticket sales, and the energy of ski week was amazing.  We see so many people return from year to year.  It has become a yearly tradition for a lot of people,” said organizer John McGill of StraightOut Media & Marketing, producers of TGSW.

One reason the event has gained so much popularity is the approach of the organizers, who open all events to all attendees, treating everyone equally fabulous.

Ski Bunnies out on the "beach" at the base of the mountain

“Everyone is a VIP.  We don’t have different levels at events.  If someone wants to host a private party, we tell them they must let in anyone who comes to the door,” said John Reese, logistics coordinator of the event.

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Another reason TGSW is a favorite among LGBT ski fans is that the town of Telluride is so welcoming to attendees.  Unlike at other gay ski events that operate under the radar, the resort embraces the event, evidenced by the huge banners hanging around town and on the “beach” at the bottom of the slopes to promote the event.  Official T-10 hotel sponsors, the Peaks Resort and The Capella Hotel, offer discount rates for attendees.

Crew from, sponsors of TGSW White Night Party, take a break after a day of skiing, and promoting.

“We hope that our gay ski week guests think of us as a home away from home and return to enjoy the resort at any time," Meredith Mirrington, the resort’s public relations director.

“We love Gay Ski Week,” said Sam Haury, a tour guide for Telluride Skimobiling Adventures.  “Every bar in town hosts a party.  It’s really great for the people who live here, and the people who come are usually really good tippers.”

Besides the commerce the event brings, the residents of Telluride also support the event because they share the “live-and-let-live” Rocky Mountain spirit of the historic Colorado mining town, built on individualism and community pride.

Friends unwind at Apres Ski after a day on the slopes.

“When my friends and I heard that protesters were coming to town because Matthew Shepard’s mother was speaking, that made us even more interested in hearing what she had to say.  I mean these guys picketed that kid’s funeral.  That’s so wrong.”

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A first this year, the TGSW hosted a fundraising event, the Matthew Shepard Foundation Benefit Dinner.  More than 80 attendees paid $200 each to attend the event which raised funds to go toward the Foundation’s mission, “To replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance" through education, outreach and advocacy programs.

The week also hosted nightly parties including the legendary’s White Night, the Blue Ball, Hump Night featuring hosted by guest celeb Amazing race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl, and Meet & Heat.  Other events included daily Apres Ski at the Stoli Lounge, Dine & Unwind, an Iced T Skating party and Spahhh Days. 

Locals girls of Telluride enjoy the scene at Stoli Lounge.

Besides the official events of TGSW, attendees could tour the town of Telluride, a six-by-twelve-block story-book village of chalets nestled in a box canyon surrounded by the majestic13,000-foot peaks of the San Juan Mountains.  A free gondola connects the town center of Telluride with Mountain Village, a center of restaurants, retailers and lodging. 

Telluride is reminiscent of Park City, Utah,host of the Sundance Film Festival, except without the crowds and commercialism.  In fact, according to locals, the municipality has sworn off all chain retailers and restaurants, although there are rumors that Tracks coffee shop in Mountain Village brews Starbucks.

Sponsors of Telluride Gay Ski Week 2010 presented by the Matthew Shepard Foundation included the Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association, StraightOut Media & Marketing, LOGO, the Peaks Hotel, the Capella Hotel,, Stoli, Singha Beer, House Jams Wine, TyKu, Passport, Outwest Global Adventures, Pink Banana Media, Echelon, Outlook, IGLTA, Plum TV, Telluride Sports, the Telluride Watch and the Telluride AIDS Benefit. 

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K. Pearson Brown