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Beaver Creek opens with fresh snow

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
A massive crowd gathers at the base of the new Centennial lift in anticipation of the Beaver Creek Mountain's opening day on Wednesday.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

What’s open at Beaver Creek?

As of Wednesday, skiers and snowboarders had access to the following lifts:

• Buckaroo Express Gondola (No. 1).

• Rose Bowl Express Lift (No. 4).

• Centennial Express Lift (No. 6).

• Cinch Express Lift (No. 8).

• Strawberry Park Express Lift (No. 12).

• Bachelor Gulch Express Lift (No. 16).

• Five surface lifts.

BEAVER CREEK — About 5 inches of new snow greeted skiers and riders on Beaver Creek’s Opening Day, Wednesday, as the resort’s new Centennial Express Lift (No. 6) roared into action.

The lift line that awaited the 9 a.m. opening included seasoned veterans already their fifth or sixth day of skiing, out-of-town guests meeting their ski instructors, skiing buddies shouting greetings across the lift maze as they met up at the base and a good handful of Front Range skiers who headed up to the mountains to take advantage of the new snow.

“This looks good,” said Bryan Place, of Denver, as he looked out from the windows of the new gondola cabins. “We came up because it’s Opening Day, and there’s good snow. We were at Vail yesterday, and it was great.”



Good snow, high expectations



Lynda Bess, her daughter Hadley and her son Max split their time between the Vail Valley and Castle Rock, and Bess said her family tries to make it up for Opening Day every year.

“We try to come up for the beginning of the season. This year the snow was actually good, so it’s more than just saying that you made it up for Opening Day. You get to see what has changed and what’s been new over the season,” she said.

One of the biggest changes that crowds noticed was the Centennial combination chairlift and gondola. Reactions ranged from excitement to surprise.



Fletcher Davis, of Denver, said the lift is one of many changes he’s seen over the years at the resort.

“I grew up skiing at Beaver Creek,” he said. “We used to take the ski bus up here — it’s changed a lot. For one thing, there are escalators now. When I was a kid, they’d drop you off and you have to drag all your heavy ski equipment up 200 stairs.

A number of local skiers and riders had high hopes for the day based on the consistent snow that has hit the area during the past week. The resort reported 5 inches in the 24 hours before opening, with 2-3 inches of that falling overnight. That brings the mountain’s total season snow depth to 72 inches.

“I came out today because it’s probably going to be pretty fun out there,” said Josh Tenner, of Avon. “I skinned out last week and it was pretty deep, and it hasn’t stopped snowing. I grew out up here, and sometimes it’s pretty dry (at this time of year), so for November this is pretty amazing. This is one of the better opening days.”

Locals Doug Clayton and Brad Bickerton had a sample of the powder on Tuesday night while cross-country skiing and said conditions were “amazing.” It was so good that Bickerton broke out his neon purple onesie ski suit for Opening Day.

“This onesie is a great thing,” he said. “It was purchased by my uncle in 1990. I found it in a closet about five years ago. It’s my special occasion outfit — special occasions include 4 inches powder on Opening Day. I’m going to ski faster than my friends, and I want them to see me.”

Holiday events begin

Besides the combination lift, other debuts on Opening Day included a candy shop at the top of Strawberry Park Express Lift and Upper Beaver Creek Mountain Express. Candy Cabin sells old-fashioned sweets in bulk and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the base of the mountain, Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap also opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday. The restaurant, which was formerly McCoy’s, is now operated by the Park Hyatt and will offer made-to-order breakfast, lunch and apres, all made from scratch in a cafeteria-style setting. A new bar area will accommodate the apres crowd, and apres entertainment will begin sometime in December.

The resort will also hold its 34th tree lighting ceremony on Friday.

Festivities begin with Santa’s Workshop from 4 to 8 p.m. in Ford Hall sponsored by Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. This one-stop holiday shop for kids of all ages provides holiday cookies to decorate, gifts to create and holiday-themed arts and crafts.

Kids can take photos with Santa from 4 to 5 p.m. before heading out to the lighting ceremony at 7 p.m.

The lighting ceremony will include the illumination of Beaver Creek’s 38-foot tall tree and live performances from the Denver-based Colorado Ambassadors of Gospel and Nashville recording artist Christie Huff. The ceremony, which is free to the public, also features the winner of the kids’ holiday poetry contest and a visit from Santa before the grand fireworks finale.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.


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