Mother Nature was in full swing as Keystone Ski Resort rang in its season on Friday.
A steady stream of snowflakes coated the mountain as skiers and boarders became one with the mountain, gliding down the slopes, zipping through trees and hopping over moguls.
Bennett Baxter Smith, from Denver, started his third season snowboarding at Keystone’s opening day.
“Right now there’s a lot of good kickers, good little natural jumps and dips in the trees off to the side,” Smith said. The resort reported 4 inches of snow falling overnight Thursday, providing nice early season snow conditions for anxious skiers and riders who began the day with first chair at 9 a.m.
“Starting the morning off with 4 inches of fresh snow is the perfect way to open the season. There’s lots of smiles up on the hill, and there’s not much more we can ask for,” said Laura Parquette, senior communications manager at Keystone. “It really feels like winter, the trees are covered and it just keeps coming down out there.”
The snowy weather in the past week, coupled with snowmaking, allowed Keystone to debut with 65 acres of skiing and riding including top-to-bottom intermediate terrain on the Spring Dipper and River Run trails, four lifts and more than 20 features in the early season A51 Terrain Park.
Smith said Keystone is his favorite place to go for early season riding.
“I’ve frequented Keystone for the past couple years, and it’s the best place to go for the preseason before things really start going, because it’s got some nice long runs open,” he said.
Andy Lindeman, who celebrated opening day with a snazzy ’80s outfit, said he also appreciated being able to ski from the top of the mountain on opening day.
“This is a really good mountain for cruising groomers, and nice long runs without the crowds,” he said.
Parquette said resort staff had been working hard to lay down a great early season snow surface.
“The temperatures this week have also played a big role in adding that superior product to the top of our base, and we couldn’t be happier with the snow surface out there. It looks like people are really enjoying it,” she said.
There was a buzz at the mountain on opening day, with skiers and riders chatting excitedly in the gondola and following one another down the mountainside.
“Opening day is always so much fun because there is that pent-up demand,” Parquette said. “People are so excited to get up on the hill, get on some snow and make some turns. It really is about having fun and enjoying time at the mountain — which is really what Keystone is all about all season long. The fresh snow gets everyone that much more excited.”
Keystone is open for daily operations, with lifts running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Updated conditions reports, live web cams and the events calendar may be found online at Keystoneresort.com. Lift tickets may also be purchased on the site.