EAGLE COUNTY — All the ski terrain at Vail and Beaver Creek opened Monday. That’s earlier than the last couple of seasons, which has several local hoping the valley’s weather patterns may be getting back to normal.
Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village, has been in Vail long enough that he remembers the seasons when the entire mountain could be open in December.
“In my earlier days we had earlier snow,” Schleper said.
Matt Carroll, general manager at the Double Diamond ski shop in Lionshead, arrived in the valley in 1990. He remembers seasons when both resorts were open earlier, too.
“The goal was always to have the bowls 100 percent open by Christmas,” Carroll said.
On the other hand, Schleper and Carroll both said the mountains are skiing very well right now, thanks to good snow so far.
The press release from Vail Resorts stated that Vail had received “more than 6 feet of snow” since Jan. 1. Beaver Creek has received about half that amount since Jan. 1.
INCHES AT A TIME
Most of that snow has come in inches over several days, not feet in a matter of hours. That holds with the traditional pattern of snowfall in the area. And Carroll said it’s a good thing snow comes that way.
“Vail actually skis better this way,” Carroll said. “The way the terrain is, if we get too much too fast, it’s hard to ski.”
And, while it’s been a few days since our last snowfall — and more snow isn’t expected until the end of the month, according to www.OpenSnow.com — Schleper said the snow on the ground now isn’t going anywhere right now, thanks to the current angle of the sun.
ENJOY BLUEBIRD DAYS
And, while daily snow is a boon for powderhounds like Schleper, “bluebird days” like the last few are popular with guests, he said. And the last few days have been just about perfect.
“My son and I were at the top of the mountain this morning (Monday), and we didn’t see a single cloud,” he said.
Good snow cover is good for business, of course, but it’s also a lot easier on rental equipment.
Dave Taylor manages the ski-tuning operation at Avon-based Venture Sports. He said a lot of the store’s rental equipment came into his shop looking worse for wear in the two seasons before this one.
“This season, we’re kind of back to normal — it seems like the equipment is in much better shape.”
Schleper — an unabashed Vail booster — has long praised the grooming at Vail, and that crew’s ability to turn a few drought-starved lemons into pretty good lemonade. This season, when those crews have better fruit to mix, the results are better still.
“This is ego snow — every turn is just perfect,” Schleper said. And, he added, this year’s snow has brought skiers back to the high country in big numbers.
Carroll agreed, saying that this season’s snow has the entire Interstate 70 corridor seen right now as one of the best places in the country to ski.
“We’ve been busy since two weeks before Christmas,” Schleper said. “It’s been a great year so far — and there are still a few powder stashes out there, if you know where to look.”