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Vail opens Blue Sky, Beaver Creek eyes Redtail but new snow shuffles race schedule

Birds of Prey downhill now on Friday, super-G on Saturday as storms move in

November 29, 2018, 12:07 pm
snag park at vail

Upper Snag at Vail on Thursday (Chris Bivona, Vail Resorts photo).

Editor’s update: Officials have confirmed skiing to Redtail finish area beginning Friday.

Vail opened Blue Sky Basin on Thursday – its second earliest opening ever – and Beaver Creek is on the verge of opening Redtail, which would allow skier access to Friday’s Birds of Prey World Cup downhill and possibly new lift openings for Larkspur and Grouse Mountain soon.

New snow overnight Wednesday into Thursday (officially only around 3 or 4 inches but it skied much more like 7) forced cancellation of Thursday’s downhill training run, and more snow forecast throughout the weekend caused race officials to shuffle the schedule – swapping the super-G and downhill races.

“In many ways we are fortunate. The skiing and snowboarding at Vail and Beaver Creek is phenomenal and the snow is excellent,” said Birds of Prey media chief Tom Boyd of the Vail Valley Foundation. “However, due to the extended weather forecast, the upcoming Xfinity Birds of Prey Audi FIS Ski World Cup race schedule has been adapted as follows: Friday downhill starting at 10:45 a.m. Saturday super G starting at 11 a.m.”

The super-G – a more technical race with a little less speed — had originally been scheduled for Friday, with the premier downhill event on Saturday, but weather forecasters are calling for heavy snow on Saturday and lighter snow on Friday. Another storm is then moving in Sunday morning, which could impact the Birds of Prey giant slalom.

“On Thursday morning you’ll find a moderate powder day at most central and northern mountains with 2-7 inches of freshies thanks to Storm #1,” meteorologist Joel Gratz wrote on Opensnow.com Wednesday morning.

“Then Storm #2 will bring snow to all mountains from Thursday night through Saturday midday and Storm #3 will arrive on Sunday morning and will favor the southern mountains. Next week, our best chance for the next storm is on Friday, then after a few days of dry weather, another storm is likely around December 12th,” Gratz added.

Here’s Vail Resorts’ press release on Thursday’s Blue Sky Basin opening:

Vail Mountain Opens Blue Sky Basin

VAIL, Colo. – Nov. 29, 2018 After receiving an additional four inches of snow overnight and more in the forecast through the weekend, Vail Mountain opened Blue Sky Basin today. This is the second-earliest opening for Blue Sky Basin in history, behind only the Nov. 25, 2002 opening. Vail is now offering 4,200 skiable acres of terrain, the most currently open in North America.

“There is no doubt that Vail is the place to be for the holidays. We have almost 80 percent of the resort’s terrain open, and it is still November,” said Doug Lovell, Vail chief operating officer. “This is the strongest start to a season that we’ve seen in decades, and it is only looking to improve with more snow expected over the weekend. This is going to be a legendary season.”

Belle’s Camp in Blue Sky Basin is now open for daily operations, and Wildwood Smokehouse is scheduled to open on Friday, Nov. 30.

Skiers and snowboarders now have access to 4,200 acres of skiable terrain accessible via the following lifts on Vail Mountain:

  • Gondola One
  • Eagle Bahn Gondola (#19)
  • Born Free Express Lift (#8)
  • Avanti Express (#2)
  • Wildwood Express Lift (#3)
  • Mountain Top Express Lift (#4)
  • High Noon Express (#5)
  • Game Creek Express (#7)
  • Sun Up Express (#9)
  • Northwoods Express (#11)
  • Gopher Hill (#12)
  • Sourdough Express (#14)
  • Little Eagle Lift (#15)
  • Orient Express (#21)
  • Lionshead Carpet (#34)
  • Eagle’s Nest Carpet (#35)
  • Tea Cup Express (#36)
  • Skyline Express (#37)
  • Pete’s Express(#39)

All guests are reminded that they must observe all posted signs, closures and slow zones, especially during the early season. Closed trails may contain hazards due to early snow coverage. Accessing closed terrain is a violation of the Colorado Ski Safety Act and will result in the loss of skiing privileges and could involve prosecution and a fine.

Epic Pass: Last Chance to Purchase Extended to Sunday, Dec. 2

The last chance to purchase the 2018-19 Epic Pass and other Epic Season Pass options – including the Epic Local, Epic 7-Day and Epic 4-Day – is Sunday, Dec. 2. The Epic Pass provides skiers and riders with the greatest multi-resort pass value in the ski industry, offering access to more than 65 resorts in eight countries for $949. New for the 2018-19 winter season, the Epic Pass will now feature unlimited, unrestricted skiing and riding at 19 mountain resorts including Crested Butte, plus seven days at Telluride, in addition to unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. The remaining lineup of passes is available for purchase at epicpass.com.

Snow Days

From Dec. 13 to 16, Vail Snow Days features an expanded four-day lineup of events and activities from free concerts, by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Shakey Graves and more, a Pray for Snow Bonfire, pub crawls, and more. Visit www.vail.com/snowdays for a list of all activities.

10 Days of Epic

To celebrate 10 years of the Epic Pass, Vail Mountain will offer 10 days of specials on Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 16. Some specials include complimentary fries with the purchase of an Epic Burger; 50 percent off ski school group lessons; après at Express Lift Bar featuring $3 drink specials; and 20 percent off Epic Mountain Express rides to and from Vail. Additional details are available at www.vail.com/readysetsnow



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