The 2013-14 ski season officially kicked off Sunday with Arapahoe Basin becoming the first ski resort in North America to open to the public, according to Colorado Ski Country USA, and now Loveland Ski Area is set to open on Thursday.
“The race to host Opening Day is one of the highlights of the ski season, a title often held by Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin or Loveland [Ski Area],” CSCUSA officials said in a press release. “Both resorts are perched atop the Continental Divide, giving them higher elevations, earlier frosts and colder temperatures. This also allows them to stay open long into the spring, giving Colorado one of the longest ski seasons in the country.”
Loveland opened for the season on Oct. 23 last year, with A-Basin beating them to the punch on Oct. 17. With decent natural snowfall lately (A-Basin reported 4 inches new Tuesday morning), both ski areas are ahead of that pace by several days.
“Our snowmaking crew has done a tremendous job getting the mountain ready for opening day,” said Rob Goodell, Loveland’s director of business operations. “The snow guns are still firing and there is more snow in the forecast, so the first turns of the season are going to be exceptional.”
Loveland’s Chair 1 will crank up at 9 a.m. on Thursday and will provide access to one top-to-bottom run, comprised of sections of Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run trails. The run will be more than a mile long and nearly 1,000 vertical feet.
Early season lift tickets are $49 for adults and $25 for children ages 6-14. Go to Loveland’s website for more information and to purchase season passes.
After opening on Sunday, A-Basin reported one inch of new snow Monday, 4 on Tuesday, and the resort should see lingering snow showers through Wednesday. Another shot of colder air and possible precipitation is expected later this week.
“Since the first high country snowstorms several weeks ago, we’ve seen the enthusiasm in skiers and snowboarders building towards [opening day],” CSCUSA President and CEO Melanie Mills said in a press release. “Thanks to helpful weather patterns and the hard work of snowmakers and groomers, all of Colorado’s resorts will open with top-notch products our guests will enjoy.”
Next up after Loveland, Copper Mountain and Keystone are scheduled to open for the season on Friday, Nov. 1, followed by Wolf Creek and Breckenridge on Friday, Nov. 8, Winter Park on Wednesday, Nov. 13, Eldora and Vail on Friday, Nov. 22, and Crested Butte and Beaver Creek on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth this week addressed those who criticized the resort for kicking off the ski season on a weekend, when crowds are always bigger.
“It was a little bit busy, but spirits were high,” Henceroth wrote on his blog. “There has been a lot of discussion and questions about opening weekday or weekend. Ideally, we like to open on a weekday, giving us a chance to ‘ease’ into the season.
“Obviously, we were ready to roll [Sunday] and opted to open. We would never remain closed on a weekend if we were ready. I enjoyed all the discussion others wrote about our opening strategy. I can really simplify it: ‘Our objective is to open as soon as the snow and all of our operations are ready, weekday or weekend doesn’t matter.’”
Now snow riders have all week to take laps at A-Basin, and Loveland joins the fray Thursday. The weather will continue to cooperate this week but then give way to warmer, drier conditions next week, according to Opensnow.com.
“Overall, it doesn’t appear super-active after this week and through the rest of the month,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Monday. “But that’s OK because it’s October, and I’d rather have a lull in the weather now than in two months.”