‘Goose bumps’ on opening day at Keystone
summit daily news
Vail, CO Colorado
KEYSTONE – The view up and down the Snake River valley from the base of Keystone’s gondola has always been a Colorado classic. And this year, skiers and riders can enjoy the vista from atop their boards as they glide across a new snow-covered bridge that leads right back to the gondola maze.
“This is the ticket,” said Stacy Miller, unbuckling her snowboard bindings for another ride up the hill. “It’s way safer than it was, with everybody speeding down the bottom of River Run,” she said, referring to the traffic jam that often formed at the base of the mountain before the new, wider bridge was built this summer.
The new bridge is the main improvement at Keystone, which opened for the season Thursday under bluebird skies, balmy temperatures and great top-to-bottom coverage on Spring Dipper and River Run – plus plenty of terrain park features.
A snowy October and cold nighttime temperatures helped the resort open a day early, much to the delight of locals and visiting skiers alike.
“This is starting my 50th season, and I still get goose bumps,” said Keystone’s Steve Corneiller, stopping in for a cup of coffee at the Inxspot just before the lifts started.
“I still remember cutting my teeth at Buck Hill (Minnesota). I saw my first Warren Miller movie in 1959 and I knew that I had to go skiing,” Corneiller said. “It got me to where I am today.
“It’s going to be a good season. Every season is a good season. It all depends what you put into it,” Corneiller added.
In Summit County, all eyes are on the major resorts as they continue to be the economic drivers for the area, especially since the real estate slow down. Bookings have picked up slightly compared to last year, but are still behind the pace of previous years. The brightest spot for Vail Resorts has been the continued strong sales of season passes, especially the Epic Pass, valid for lift access at Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Vail and Heavenly Valley, in California.
Local businesses that felt the impact of the recession included Domino’s Pizza, where the last year was pretty slow, according to Leah Monroe, a manager at the Silverthorne Domino’s.
“But it didn’t affect how many days I got out on the hill,” Monroe said with a smile before exiting the gondola for her first run of the season.
Monroe’s boyfriend, Jon Dusanek, said he’s also been affected by the economic slowdown.
“I work in plumbing and heating, and I got laid off, which means I get to ski every day,” Dusanek said, explaining that he was able to put some rainy day money aside during the boom times to ride out the recession.
With the skier bridge done, Keystone resort officials are thinking cautiously about implementation of a master plan for the ski area, approved by the U.S. Forest Service last month.