Copper Mountain opens to more than 2,300 vertical feet of terrain accessed from two chairs | VailDaily.com

Copper Mountain opens to more than 2,300 vertical feet of terrain accessed from two chairs

FRISCO — The lengthy, top-to-bottom run Copper Mountain opened Friday, Nov. 10, was a symbol of the long list of improvements the resort will implement this season.

Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders gathered to celebrate the start of the season, with some arriving as early as 6 a.m. to enjoy the festivities. They were rewarded with free swag and more than 2,300 vertical feet of terrain to carve and scrape.

Copper Mountain's snowmaking operations were successful enough to open two chairs, the American Eagle and the Excelerator, which took guests above the 12,000-foot mark for a long journey back down.

Once at the bottom, those guests were able to experience an element of the more than $20 million in improvements that will be implemented at Copper this year: radio frequency technology. That means they didn't have to take their passes out of their pockets to board the lift.

"The chips inside our passes this year scan through your clothes," said Taylor Prather, Copper Mountain's public relations manager. "They then trigger a gate which opens automatically."

FLAGSHIP RESORT

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Prather said Copper Mountain's parent company, POWDR Adventure Lifestyle Co., shined a light on Copper as the company's flagship resort for the 2017-18 season, evidenced by the many improvements taking place at the slopes and in the village.

A new lift, new hut, new tavern, new restaurant, new alpine coaster and new basecamp hub are among the changes.

The tavern will open in the coming weeks, and as a taste of what's to come, 10 Barrel Brewing beers were being served up at the base of the lift on Friday. The Ten Mile Tavern represents a partnership with 10 Barrel Brewing, which will offer 20 different tap beers from the new Center Village taproom.

Nearby, new restaurant Toast & Co. is also expected to open soon, serving breakfast and coffee in the morning and apres drinks and live music in the afternoons.

On the mountain, the Kokomo Express Lift and Koko's Hut will add a new feel to the West Village and will be open by Dec. 15. The high-speed quad has replaced the old fixed-grip Kokomo Lift while adding an extra 300 feet to the bottom for maximum convenience. At the top of the lift, the new Koko's Hut is 2,500 square feet and provides seating for 200, with views of the Tenmile Range.

For a different kind of mountain thrill, the Rocky Mountain Coaster is expected to be available in the coming days, offering guests a way to cruise the slopes without strapping into skis or a snowboard. The 5,800-foot coaster has a vertical drop of 430 feet and ends at the village.

Decades-long SPAN

On Friday, all eyes were on Copper legend Frank Walter, as the 95-year-old prepared the way for the crowd standing by. Walter didn't ski, but said he plans on getting out at some point this season. The Copper Mountain resident has lived in the village for decades.

"I bought my first place here on the second day I ever skied Copper, back in the 1970s," Walter said on Friday. "The best thing about Copper is the people. The people make the difference."

Opposite the age spectrum from Walter was 2-year-old snowboarder CJ Drake, who rode his 80-centimeter Burton After School Special around the base area with the help of his mother, Kaylee Drake.

"It took us a while to find a board small enough for him," she said. "He loves it."

CJ's sister, 11-year-old Ashlynn, enjoyed a day off school to get some on-snow time with her father, Chris Drake. The family came in from Colorado Springs for Copper's Opening Day.

Erie resident Jarvis Zoner arrived at 6 a.m. to claim first chair. This year, Zoner celebrates four decades as a Copper Mountain season pass holder.

"It's an exceptional place, there's no place like it," Zoner said.

While he usually makes first chair of the season at Eldora, Zoner opted for Copper this year.

"I don't think I've ever made first chair here before," he said.

He was joined by Colorado Springs residents Tristan Walton and Matt Correa and a wig-wearing individual who referred to himself simply as "Skifunk, one word."

Skifunk has been a Copper Pass holder for decades, as well.

"Copper's home, man," Skifunk said. "The layout, the terrain, everything."