SUMMIT COUNTY – Thanks to a little help from Mother Nature, Colorado’s 2013-14 ski season will officially begin Sunday, Arapahoe Basin announced Friday.
The Summit County resort beat out its competitor Loveland Ski Area for opening-day honors this year. Following the announcement, officials at Loveland issued a friendly congratulations to its neighbor and rival, and confirmed they will not be open this weekend.
“We’ve had tremendous early season snowmaking and natural snow,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin vice president and chief operating officer.
John Sellers, Loveland’s communications director, said they expect to be open within the week.
“Our snowmakers our working hard to finish the bottom section of the mountain,” Sellers said.
This year’s opening day comes four days earlier than last year’s, thanks in part to low temperatures and early-season snow. Upgrades to A-Basin’s snowmaking system were also a factor.
“This fall the snowmaking crew installed a new and very short snowmaking line to facilitate snowmaking on Lower Wrangler,” said Henceroth. “This was by no means a major project, but we positioned a couple of snowmaking hydrants to better cover the summer road crossing on the lower parts of the trail. Over the last couple of seasons, we realized Lower Wrangler could use a little bit of help with snow coverage in a lean year. This will give learners a better place early in the season to work on their skiing and riding. This type of project is good for all skiers, giving some more breathing room for both learning and more advanced riders.”
Vail crew making plans
Upon hearing the news, locals skiers and snowboarders immediately began shifting around their Sunday schedules in order to make it out to A-Basin.
“I must have saw the announcement within minutes of it going live,” said local die-hard skier Cesar Hermosillo. “Luckily, I found someone to cover for me at work.”
Hermosillo was on the second chair up the mountain at A-Basin’s opening day last year and is planning on attempting the same feat this year, along with a crew of four or five Vail skiers and snowboarders who will join him on the 45-minute commute to A-Basin.
“I’m sure Nate Dogggg’s already there camping out,” Hermosillo said Friday afternoon. “I won’t beat him up the mountain but I’m going to try to be as close as I can.”
The Summit County local known as Nate Dogggg has been on the first chair of the ski season for 17 consecutive years going into Sunday.
“He’s a legend,” Hermosillo said.
Skiers and snowboarders weren’t the only ones excited about the opening announcement. At Party Central, the year-round costume shop in Avon, owner Marian Salazar said in addition to Halloween traffic, she sees a lot of opening-day costume shoppers this time of year.
“People don’t want to just go out there in their ordinary ski gear,” she said. “They want to wear big, crazy hats and wigs and stuff like that. So we keep all those items here in the shop for people who want to jazz it up a little on opening day.”
A-Basin’s Black Mountain Express lift will start loading guests at 8:30 a.m., where they’ll be transported to the intermediate-level High Noon trail at mid-mountain.
Skier services that will start opening day include ski and board rentals, dining at Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain and in the A-Frame at the Legends Cafe and retail sales in Arapahoe Sports. The $1 million renovation to A-Basin’s popular 6th Alley Bar & Grill is projected to last until late 2013, but a temporary bar will be set up in the A-Frame lodge. A-Basin Mug Club sales will take place as normal on opening day; mugs are $40 and entitle the owner to discounts in the 6th Alley Bar and a free beer to kick off the season. Mugs are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, one mug per customer.
Guests will find the lowest price on A-Basin lift tickets by purchasing them in advance at www.arapahoebasin.com. Current lift ticket window pricing will run through Dec. 20, with full-day adult tickets (ages 19-59) for $67, youth tickets (ages 15-18) for $55 and child tickets (ages 6-14) for $32. Children under the age of 5 ski free every day, all season. Information about season passes and multi-day tickets can be found at www.arapahoebasin.com.