It’s on: Copper Mountain is the final Summit ski area to open for the season
It’s official: Summit County’s mountains are open for ski season. Copper Mountain Resort hosted the final Opening Day in the county on Monday.
Colin Thomas stood at the Alpine Lot waiting for a shuttle bright and early on opening day. Thomas had driven up from Denver — where it has yet to snow — for his second Opening Day of the season after Winter Park’s opening last week.
“I haven’t been able to ride the last two years because I got shoulder surgery done, so I was finally able to come back out and ride,” Thomas said.
The event was met with fanfare as eager skiers and snowboarders lined up for the American Eagle lift. Last year, the resort opened on a Monday due to pandemic concerns about crowds. This year, the resort kept its Monday opening, making for a mellow start to the season.
Standing in line for American Eagle with his dad, Evan Cooper said he moved to Colorado a year ago and — despite having to do some work from his car in the parking lot — he wanted to come to Opening Day with his father, who often attends the festivities. The lack of COVID-19 restrictions like reservations are something Cooper is stoked about this season.
Catching up with Fort Collins residents Chloe Boehm and Lilly Namie after a few runs, the two said Copper is their favorite mountain to ski because of the terrain and lack of crowds.
“It’s nice to have some fresh corduroy to ski down,” Boehm said about the opening day conditions.
“I got two turns in of a little bit of fresh snow, and it was beautiful,” Namie added. “It was good, kind of what you would expect for man-made, but I think as it gets warm, it’s going to soften up.”
While Copper is the last ski area to open to the public, it originally opened Oct. 22 specifically for athletes.
The resort started calling itself The Athlete’s Mountain this season as a nod to the competitions hosted at the mountain. While the mountain was open to certain athletes prior to its official Opening Day, it’s a special feeling to be fully open, spokesperson Taylor Prather said.
“It’s really exciting,” Prather said. “We’ve had ski racers here training for the last month, but it’s really something different, something special when we get to welcome the public.”
Prather said the resort’s snowmaking team has been working “around the clock” to get the mountain ready for Opening Day — and while local ski areas have struggled with warm and dry weather lately, Prather said, Copper is happy with the terrain it was able to open with, noting the fresh dusting of snow received over the weekend. Copper opened with 70 acres of beginner and intermediate terrain.
Prather added that the resort is hard at work getting the 22-foot superpipe up and running, which will be the focal point for the Olympic qualifying events the resort is hosting this season.
As for what the resort is most excited about, Prather said it’s the opportunity to start getting back to normal.
“Getting people back on the mountain skiing and snowboarding, having fun, less mask enforcement, less parking restrictions — just getting back to what we all love doing, which is skiing and riding,” Prather said.
Plenty of Opening Day visitors said they were relieved to ditch most COVID-19 restrictions on the mountain this season, but others said they were looking forward to the snow and just getting back out on the mountain.
Nik Mennemeier said he’s looking forward to learning new tricks on his skis this season, specifically his backward carving skills.