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Winter weather making a comeback this week in Colorado high country

Recreational skiers, ski racers eagerly await colder temps, fresh snow, more terrain

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November 10, 2014, 11:11 am

There’s no questions it’s been a challenging early season so far for Colorado’s ski industry, with balmy fall temperatures and a lack of precipitation. But that’s all changing this week with an Arctic blast dipping south and more ski areas set to come online.

Both Keystone and Copper Mountain opened with limited terrain on Friday, and Wolf Creek was open for weekend skiing. All three joined Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski areas – typically the first to open in the state.

Tim Jitloff

Tim Jitloff in action last season (photo courtesy of USSA).

This week, Winter Park, originally scheduled to open on Wednesday, has pushed back opening day till Saturday. Breckenridge, which delayed its scheduled Nov. 7 opening, announced on Tuesday that it will open for the season on Friday.

Meteorologist Joel Gratz of Opensnow.com isn’t calling for huge additional snow totals this week, but any little bit – along with a plunge in temps – will help at this point. Gratz predicted 2 to 4 inches would fall Monday, followed by another 3 to 6 on Thursday and another 2 to 4 Saturday – all accompanied by colder temperatures more conducive to snowmaking.

Monday’s forecast was pretty close, with A-Basin receiving 4 new, Copper Mountain 5, Keystone 6 and Loveland 7.

That’s great news at Copper Mountain and on Vail’s Golden Peak, where U.S. Ski Team athletes are trying to get in early season training for upcoming World Cup races and the 2015 World Championships Feb. 2-15 at Beaver Creek.

The U.S. Ski Team named its alpine team for the coming season Saturday at Copper, where athletes have been training since Nov. 1. In seasons past, the Copper Mountain Speed Center offered top-to-bottom speed-event training. This early season has been very different.

“We’ve been very lucky in the past years,” giant slalom standout Tim Jitloff said at Copper on Friday. “The training facility we have at Copper has been fully open. We’ve been able to run full-length downhill and super-G. Unfortunately, this year Mother Nature had different ideas and that’s totally OK. That happens and we’ve got to roll with it.”

Jitloff, of Reno, Nev., is coming off a very promising season in which he tied a career World Cup personal best with a fifth in a GS at Alta Badia, Italy. He was also 15th in the GS at the Sochi Winter Olympics and finished in the points with a 26th-place result in the season-opening GS at Soelden, Austria, last month. He seems poised for a breakout season.

“We do have the training opportunities on the very top [at Copper Mountain],” Jitloff said. “We’re able to utilize that for slalom and giant slalom currently, and hopefully in the next few days as they’re able to make more snow we’ll be able to run super-G and downhill as well.”

Crews will also be looking to blast snow at Vail’s Golden Peak – a prime technical event (slalom, GS) training facility that typically opens to the U.S. Ski Team and other clubs prior to the public opening of Vail Mountain on Friday, Nov. 21. Beaver Creek is scheduled to open the day before Thanksgiving on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

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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, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), 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, SKI Magazine, 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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