‘A beautiful day’ greets Vail visitors for holiday

Local snowboarder Clay Copenhaver, 10, holds up a piece of 1/4-inch think ice Thursday that had accumulated over the top of the fresh snow on Riva Ridge on Vail Mountain. Skiers and snowboarder enjoyed top-to-bottom access on that run as well as many others on the more than 2,700 acres of terrain the resort had open for the Thanksgiving holiday.
John LaConte |


VAIL — The mission is to have a lot of terrain open for the Thanksgiving holiday.

When the lifts in Lionshead, Vail Village, Golden Peak and Cascade began taking passengers up the mountain Thursday, there was more than 2,700 acres open for those skiers and snowboarders to explore. It was the most terrain of any resort in the country, Vail announced in a blog post.

Mission accomplished.

“We’ve been coming for several Thanksgiving holidays now, and these are the best conditions we’ve seen so far,” said Jim Rowe, of Chicago.

Rowe was joined by his wife, Cindy, their 16-year-old daughter Alyse and 14-year-old son Ethan, one of many families spending the holiday on Vail Mountain.

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“We also have family visiting from New York and Louisiana,” Rowe said.

For the Matheus family, of Highlands Ranch, it was an opposite situation.

“Our family was spread out across the country, so we thought what better place than Vail to get together as a small family,” said Frank Matheus, who was skiing Vail on Thanksgiving afternoon with his 21-year-old daughter, Christina.


The skiing itself was interesting. There was no shortage of snow, but skiers and snowboarders agreed they needed an extra degree of strength to negotiate through ice layers that had formed over the nearly 2 feet of snow Vail received during the course of the past week. Groups of skiers and snowboarders could be seen stopping in the middle of runs to regain their strength.

“It’s fun breaking through the crust to get to the powder,” said 10-year-old snowboarder Clay Copenhaver, who was among the first down Giant Steps upon its opening on Wednesday, and was attacking the crusted powder on Riva Ridge on Thursday.

Sun Up and Sun Down bowls opened late in the day on Wednesday, and while runs such as Forever and Milt’s Face were quick to get tracked out that day, runs accessed from Chairs 3 and 7 such as Ricky’s Ridge, Seldom and Never still had fresh lines to end the day Thursday.


Sunny skies dominated the day, with temps reaching 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the village and ranging from 30 on the higher elevations of the Vail Mountain.

“Just a beautiful day,” said Arthur Terzian, of Denver, who was spending Thanksgiving in Vail with his wife, Alice, 7-year-old son Andres and 15-month-old daughter, Ani. “Great day to spend with family.”

In a statement, Chris Jarnot, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain, said it was an extraordinary holiday on the mountain.

“It’s rare to have conditions this good, this early in the season,” he said. “We’ll be talking about Thanksgiving 2014 for years to come. Our crews have been working incredibly hard literally around the clock to open terrain as quickly as possible. With Chair 5 now open, we hope to open China Bowl next, possibly yet this weekend.”

Vail also announced in a blog post that the resort expects to have the remainder of the lifts and terrain on the mountain, including Blue Sky Basin, open by early December.

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