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O. Zone: The race to open first is stupid

October 25, 2023, 12:29 pm

Editor’s update: Arapahoe Basin appears poised to win the Colorado “race” to open first after natural snow fell overnight Thursday into Friday with a lot more in the forecast for this weekend. A-Basin will open on Sunday, Oct. 29.

There, I’ve said, and not just because Ski Ward, a Massachusetts ski area you’ve never heard of — using a snowmaking system that can produce something resembling snow at temps as high as 76 Fahrenheit — became the first to open in the United States on Sunday. I’m saying it because the annual race, even here in Colorado, is just stupid.

The O Zone by David O. Williams
The O. Zone

Open when conditions warrant without wasting water (a fair percentage of manmade snow, which requires a substantial amount of electricity, winds up evaporating before it melts into streams and rivers stressed by climate change). I’ll be much more psyched when a foot or more of Mother Nature’s flakes falls this weekend in Colorado than when Arapahoe Basin or Loveland “wins” the now statewide race to open first.

And I’m far more psyched for the endangered Colorado River when snowpack lasts well into June, or even continues to grow during wet, gross spring weather, because it means a far shorter fire season and far healthier rivers and streams.

The WROD (White Ribbon of Death) is the most overrated thing in skiing, and while I will mark Vail’s opening in just over two weeks on Friday, Nov. 10, and Beaver Creek’s first day on Wednesday, Nov. 22, I probably won’t be out there dodging dumbasses on the WROD. Early season natural snow is good for marketing, booking season-long hotel reservations and overall stoke, but it’s mostly great for our wetlands and streams.

Speaking of, while it’s been a typically dry and crispy October so far, things are about to change on Saturday:

“It took a long time for the forecasts to align, and finally, we have alignment and very good news – a narrow band of intense snow should set up over our central and northern mountains on Saturday into Sunday with snow totals that could push into the double digits,” Opensnow.com meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote Wednesday. “This snowfall, along with a few days of cold temperatures, could result in lift-serviced turns in early November.”

Hopefully, the weather pattern turns and we have a season similar to 2022-23’s above-average snowfall totals. Beyond lift-served turns, which are nice, I’ll be far more psyched when I can earn leg-powered turns in the woods.

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is the editor and co-founder of RealVail.com and has had his awarding-winning work (see About Us) published in more than 75 newspapers and magazines around the world, including 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), the Anchorage Daily Press (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, Aspen Journalism, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Casper Star Tribune (Wyoming), the Chicago Tribune, Colorado Central Magazine, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), Colorado Newsline, 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 Cortez Journal, the Craig Daily Press, the Curry Coastal Pilot (Oregon), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Del Norte Triplicate (California), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Gazette, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, Explore Big Sky (Mont.), the Fort Morgan Times (Colorado), the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), the Kingman Daily Miner (Arizona), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the Las Vegas Sun, the Leadville Herald-Democrat, the London Daily Mirror, the Moab Times Independent (Utah), the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), the Montrose Daily Press, The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, the Rio Blanco Herald Times (Colorado), Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), the Salt Lake Tribune, SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Sky-Hi News, the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the Sterling Journal Advocate (Colorado), the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Health Magazine, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail, Westword (Denver), Writers on the Range and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

2 Responses to O. Zone: The race to open first is stupid

  1. Scott Ehlers Reply

    October 26, 2023 at 12:18 pm

    Haters gonna hate! 😉 I love opening day!

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