BEAVER CREEK, Colorado - Charles Alexander is trying to set a Guinness World Record for the most vertical feet skied in a season - it's obvious why he was at the front of the line Wednesday morning for Beaver Creek's opening day.
Alexander, who finished the 2010-11 season at the top of the EpicMix leaderboard, made it onto the second chairlift of the day, putting him that much closer to his record. Wednesday was his 42nd day skiing this season - he hasn't missed a day since Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 13. He's leading EpicMix's leaderboard already this season with more than 700,000 vertical feet logged already - not a bad way to spend retirement living in Silverthorne.
Beaver Creek opened 12 trails Wednesday, or 253 acres of terrain. The sun was shining and many skiers found some nice powder on some of the ungroomed runs. It's a day that many locals have been waiting for, especially as they watched Vail Resorts' other Colorado mountains open before Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek's opening was enough for Avon locals and friends Stephen Gill and Justin Marshall to get up early for first chair. They arrived at about 7:45 a.m. dressed in their finest 1980s ski gear. Gill even had a throwback Salomon fanny pack on to complement his green, tight-fitting one-piece and thick 1970s mustache.
The outfits showed off their senses of humor, but the outfits were also a way to celebrate the beginning of the season at their favorite resort.
"It's not flat like Vail," Gill said of Beaver Creek. "It's more accessible and there's less people."
Marshall likes Beaver Creek for its side country, which always offers up fresh tracks, he said. The guys said they'll get 100 days at Beaver Creek this season.
Resort officials were just as excited Wednesday morning. Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown said opening day is highly anticipated, especially this year because Beaver Creek has a new Rose Bowl chairlift opening in a couple of weeks, as well as momentum that is carrying over from last season's high guest satisfaction scores and snowfall totals.
The employees at Beaver Creek are so passionate about what they do, Brown said, which just adds to the excitement.
"When it starts snowing in September/October, you can really feel the energy change," Brown said. "This is what we all look forward to, it's what I live for, it's what it's all about here."
Beaver Creek Chief Operating Officer Doug Lovell is entering his second season as the boss at the resort. It's his 14th season, however, working at Beaver Creek in some capacity.
"Beaver Creek is really a special place," he said.
Telemark skier Delya Schock, of Vail, agrees. She said there's something about Beaver Creek that makes it especially fun.
"It's just a nice atmosphere up here," Schock said. "Everyone's just a little bit more laid back and just loves to be out here."
Dan Sprys, new to the area last summer from Michigan, can hardly believe he now calls Avon home. He's just minutes from the Beaver Creek chairlifts and couldn't be happier.
Sprys majored in outdoor recreation in college and feels like he's found his perfect home. He rode the Centennial lift Wednesday morning anticipating his first run of what he hopes will be a memorable season.
"I'm excited to finally be out here," he said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.