Early-season powder turns | VailDaily.com

Early-season powder turns

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS Early Season Skiers 1 DT 11-17-10

VAIL, Colorado – Vail Mountain might officially open Friday, but that isn’t keeping local diehards from getting in some turns on its slopes before the crowds arrive.

Of course, more than 2 feet of fresh snow in recent days – and close to 3 feet in the last week – helps motivate people to skin up the mountain for as long as two hours for one or two sweet powder runs.

Jeremy Aschenbach, of Vail, is of the opinion that all the fresh powder could be gone by opening day, so he got up early Wednesday to get some while it lasts.

The recent storms have left many local skiers encouraged about the upcoming season, though. They’re hopeful the early season snow is a sign that there’s more to come – that the powder will, in fact, last.

“It’s a good start,” Aschenbach said.

David Phillips, who joined Aschenbach Wednesday, said the “perfect conditions” are good for everyone from skiers to snowboarders to local businesses to the town as a whole.

The men were motivated on Wednesday for one simple reason – their passion for powder skiing, Aschenbach said.

After meeting in front of the Vail Mountain Lodge around 8:30 a.m., they headed up Forest Road to a secret parking spot where a town of Vail official caught them and sent them on their way. They then headed back to Golden Peak to begin their ascent to the top of the mountain.

The goal for the day was to reach the top of Chair 10 and ski Highline, a double black diamond run. They ended up making it to the top of Chair 10 and skiing Blue Ox, a longer black diamond run to the east of Highline.

“It was pretty fun. The snow was good,” Aschenbach said.

Just before 9 a.m., just as Vail Ski Patrol and other Vail Mountain employees were boarding the Vista Bahn lift, three more diehard skiers were gearing up for a long hike.

Locals Jonny Utah – yes, that’s really his name – Brooks Kirkland and Craig Kosko were happy about the recent snowstorm and were happy to be outside with their ski gear on in mid-November.

Kosko said he likes early-season skiing because it’s good exercise.

“I’m trying to get strong for the season,” Kosko said.

Vail Mountain spokeswoman Liz Biebl said this year’s opening day will be the best in at least three years. Biebl announced Wednesday afternoon that Vail would open nine chair lifts and 1,150 acres of terrain on Friday. Last year, Vail opened on Nov. 20 with three chairlifts total and just one main run, Born Free.

Biebl said word around the office is that this year will be the fifth-best opening in Vail Mountain’s history.

Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said this season’s early snowfall is some of the best the resort has ever had.

Vincent Fontanella, of Vail, agrees. He was walking briskly with his snowboard from the Vail Village parking structure toward Golden Peak Wednesday morning to get a first-hand look at just how much snow had fallen overnight.

“I’m off today and it’s just ridiculously good snow – early,” Fontanella said.

He was with his buddy, skier Sean McLaughlin, also of Vail, to get a good workout in before ski season officially begins in Vail.

While all the early-season snowfall is great news for Vail Mountain and those who love to ski there, people like Aschenbach ski this early every year.

He said there’s always snow this early, people just don’t necessarily realize it because it might night fall down low in town.

And after living in Vail for 15 years, he should know.

“Once you get up high, there’s good snow every year,” he said. “I was skiing Oct. 28 at Vail – it was awesome.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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