It’s White Friday for Colorado skiers |

It’s White Friday for Colorado skiers

George Merritt
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
Marty Caivano, AP/>Eldora representatives said the girl fell about 29 feet and wished her a speedy recovery.

KEYSTONE, Colorado ” Throngs of Coloradans lined up for after-Thanksgiving bargains Friday, but others queued up for a different kind of Rocky Mountain ritual: The first sweet run of the season down a freshly groomed ski slope.

“I wouldn’t be caught dead in those stores,” said Chris Neisen of Minneapolis, who was introducing his nephew to skiing at the Keystone resort about 60 miles west of Denver.

“Are you kidding me?” asked Robin Flournoy, who was vacationing with the Texas Ski Council group. “I’d rather be doing this than in that (shopping) rush any day.”

“Black Friday” shopping arrives at the same time as the season’s first big weekend of skiing and snowboarding. Despite a scarcity of snow that forced many Colorado resorts to postpone their start dates this fall, more than a dozen were open.

Many people stood in line for 30 minutes at Keystone for a taste of machine-made snow in a kind of “White Friday” rush to the slopes.

Colorado’s 24 ski resorts are a major part of the state’s $14.1 billion tourism industry and a big draw for both in-state and out-of-state visitors. Last year, a study conducted for state government found Colorado attracted more people on overnight ski trips than any other state, getting 23.1 percent of those skiers compared with California’s 16.1 percent. Vermont was third with 6.6 percent.

Christmas bargains were a stronger lure than skiing for many Coloradans, despite a frozen, gray day.

Chris Howes, president of the Colorado Retail Council, said this week he expects holiday sales in the state to grow slightly more than the 4 percent predicted nationally, citing Colorado’s steady job growth.

By 9 a.m., Jed North of Lawson had already been shopping for nearly five hours with stops at Wal-Mart, SuperTarget and Kohls.

“It’s been steady, but no real mayhem,” the Black Friday veteran said.

David Cole of Independence, Kan., found Denver to be “pretty mild” compared with his previous Black Friday forays in Tulsa, Okla.

“Nobody was pushing you out of the way or anything,” he said.

At Keystone stores, things were even more laid back. Mo Shawar of Keystone Jewelers near the slopes said shopping there is more of an afternoon activity.

“If they did get up early, most people probably went skiing,” he said. “They’ll start wandering in here some time after noon.”

Erin Coogan of Parker, who went skiing at Keystone Friday, said she hasn’t been a part of the post-Thanksgiving retail rush since she worked at The Limited in college.

“I think it’s insane,” she said.

But as Coogan made her way to her first run of the day at 11 a.m., she said there are similarities between her family ski trips and Black Friday shopping.

“We have five children, (and after gathering all their gear) it feels like we’ve been up since 4 a.m.,” she said.

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