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Arapahoe Basin set to reopen for limited snow riding May 27 as rest of state watches

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May 24, 2020, 1:12 pm

After shutting down abruptly in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, along with the rest of the state’s ski industry, Arapahoe Basin announced on Sunday it will reopen for spring skiing on Wednesday, May 27, but there are going to be a lot of rules (see blog below).

A-Basin got the nod from Summit County and the state of Colorado, which had previously shuttered all ski areas until Saturday, May 23.

Burton on Tuesday, May 26, announced it has cancelled the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail, scheduled for early March of 2021, due to uncertainty over COVID-19.

Vail Resorts recently announced it would not try to reopen Breckenridge, which was originally scheduled to close on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz did, however, say the company’s resorts — including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck and Keystone in Colorado — will try to crank up the lifts for summer activities starting in late June or early July.

Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said his ski town has already moved on to trying to figure out summer operations and maximizing the guest experience without music or food festivals, most of which have been cancelled. He said he tries not to look too far ahead toward fall ski operations, but he predicts destination guests will be way down.

“I can think of a whole host of guys that come up every weekend, live in Denver. They come up and you’re not going keep them away,” Mamula said of drive-market skiers. “You’re going to have a whole other sector of people, though, that don’t ski much and that it’s sort of almost like a one-off vacation for them. They’re not going to do it this year.”

Mamula, whose Breckenridge restaurant — Downstairs At Eric’s — recently had to shut down for a couple of weeks due to a mini-COVID-19 outbreak amongst his staff, predicts things will be strange next season.

“Business will be down and things will be weird, and hopefully we won’t get shut down again or you’ll be in this like rolling shutdown sort of circumstance where I’m closed for two weeks because of an outbreak and the guy down the street is closed the following two weeks because of an outbreak,” Mamula said, adding it’s all about people following protocols.

Aspen Skiing Company officials had hoped to reopen some terrain for skiing this spring but will now focus on summer operations.

“We really would have liked to have provide more skiing, even if it was just for people here in the valley,” Aspen Skiing spokesman Jeff Hanle said. “That’s why we continued to groom for the uphillers, but now it got warm and hot and the snow started going, so even if we had opened for Memorial Day we wouldn’t have been able to offer the kind of product we want.”

Hanle added Aspen will be watching A-Basin and ski areas that reopened in other parts of the country, such as Oregon, in order to learn lessons for next ski season.

“We had hoped to come up with a plan to get people up on the hill for lift-served skiing. Now we’ll watch what others do, and as an industry we’ll all learn from each other,” Hanle added.

A-Basin will limit the number of snow riders to 600 per day on a strict reservation system, with preference given to season pass holders. Here’s Sunday’s blog on spring skiing from A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth:

It is official. We are going to re-open Wednesday, May 27. As I mentioned a couple days ago, we will sell a very small number of lift tickets. Mostly this opening is for all of our pass holders. That includes A-Basin season passes, Any Day Passes, Ikon Passes and Mountain Collective Passes. We will be open 7 days a week from 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM.

This is going to be very different.

1. Reservations are required. DO NOT SHOW UP WITHOUT A RESERVATION.

2. Physical distancing will be enforced and guests must wear face coverings in designated areas.

3. Tailgating and other gatherings will not be allowed.

We have been given an extraordinary opportunity. We need to take this very seriously and we need to respect the guidance given by our Summit County and State of Colorado health officials. We have to open in a responsible way. We need everyone to help. 

Go to our website for all the details. A-Basin To Re-Open

Oh yeah, beginning Wednesday afternoon Uphill Access will be open for Uphill Pass holders from 4 PM until 8 AM. Users must be off the hill by 8 AM.

I am so excited we can offer the “A-Basin Tribe” a chance to ski and ride again this season. This will be cool.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Colorado Times Recorder, the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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