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Opening day at Vail is less than a week away on Friday, Nov. 17, and resort officials say the mountain is still on schedule despite relatively warm and dry weather of late. Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and Wolf Creek all opened with limited terrain this weekend, giving Colorado six open ski areas.
Arapahoe Basin and Loveland have been open for skiing for several weeks.
Forecasters aren’t seen any big snowstorms in Colorado’s near future, but resort operators really just need colder nighttime temperatures in order to make more snow. Of course, a heaping helping of the natural stuff is what most Colorado snow riders are jonesing for — and that may not happen for a while.
“I am searching as hard as I can to find when our dry weather may switch to snowy weather,” meteorologist Joel Gratz of Opensnow.com writes. “My best guess is that this could happen no earlier than late in November, and perhaps closer to early December. Weather forecasts 3-6 weeks into the future are not very accurate, so I have no ability to tell you exactly what day or even what week we might see a pattern shift.”
Resort officials at Beaver Creek, which is scheduled to open Wednesday, Nov. 22, have been making snow for weeks on the Birds of Prey World Cup ski-racing course and say they’re ahead of last year’s pace.
That’s a good thing since those races were cancelled due to a lack of early-season snow, and Vail’s opening day was delayed by a week last season. This year’s races, featuring the best men in the world, are scheduled for Dec. 1-3.
Park City’s Ted Ligety will be looking to get yet another win at Beaver Creek after the disappointment of a weather cancellation at the opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, a couple of weeks ago.
Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who was fifth in the women’s opening GS at Soelden, finished second Saturday in the season-opening slalom at Levi, Finland. Shiffrin finished a 10th of a second behind Slovakia’s Petra Vhlova, who also beat Shiffrin in the World Cup Finals slalom in Aspen last March.
“I’ve been training with Petra the past few days and I knew that she has been fast,” Shiffrin said. “So I expected that she would be strong and fast today. She’s also really mentally tough … so I expect it’s going to be a really cool fight with us this year, and that’s exciting.”
Now both the men’s and women’s circuits come to North America for races in Killington, Vermont, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada and Beaver Creek.