Knee deep champagne on opening day? |

Knee deep champagne on opening day?

Courtesy Vail ResortsOpening day on Vail Mountain Friday won't be as big as last season, but there will be a lot more to ski than just Born Free.

VAIL ” Court Butler of Eagle skinned up and skied down Vail Mountain on Wednesday. When asked for a description of the snow, he simply smiled and said, “Amazing.”




“Oh, yeah. Champagne.”

For the skiers who actually rely on lifts to bring them up the mountain, there will be plenty of similar snow available on Friday. Vail Mountain is dropping the ropes on nine lifts, 55 trails and 784 acres on its opening day.

A big storm earlier this week dumped 16 inches at the top of the Vail Mountain, and the mountain has gotten 26 inches in the past week. That snow allowed Vail to go well beyond its minimum opening of the Born Free trail only.

“I might not have to go to work,” said Jeff D’Amico, who was skiing with Butler, when told how much of the mountain will be open on Friday.

Butler said he’ll definitely be skiing Friday.

“Wish there was more,” Butler said. “Friday is going to be a madhouse. It’s going to get skied up pretty fast.”

Vail Mountain officials are planning to open more trails next week. On Wednesday ” the day before Thanksgiving ” they plan to open Game Creek Express Lift (Chair 7), Minnie’s Lift (Chair 9), Northwoods Express Lift (Chair 11), Gopher Hill Lift (Chair 12), Cascade Village Lift (Chair 20), Pride Express Lift (Chair 26) and two beginner surface lifts at Golden Peak. That would bring the total open terrain to 1,103 acres and 81 trails accessed by 17 lifts.

Alex Berghuis, who lives in Timber Ridge and is starting his first winter in Vail, said he was impressed with the portion of the mountain that was opening Friday.

“It’s a good amount for starting, compared to A-Basin,” he said. “They only had one lift open.”

The more terrain the better, said Mike Heaphy of Minturn. But a new baby in the family complicates the skiing schedule for him and his wife, he said.

“We’re working out the details of allowing both of us to ski,” he said.

Greg Ryan of West Vail said he was pleasantly surprised with the announcement of the terrain. The problem? He’s on the disabled list right now with an injury.

“I can’t ski for another month,” he said. “But for everyone else, I’m happy for them.”

Vail resident John Kaemmer, owner of the Toy Store, said he’ll wait until after Thanksgiving to actually start skiing, even with the large opening on Friday. Nevertheless, the snow is great publicity for Vail, he said.

The news of Tuesday’s blizzard should bring a lot of people to Vail Mountain when it opens, he said.

“Then they go home and tell everyone else,” he said.

Last year, Vail’s opening was a bit larger, with 11 lifts, 72 trails and 1,015 acres. The snow kept coming, with both Vail and Beaver Creek getting the most snow at the top of the mountains in nine years.

Beaver Creek opens Wednesday.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

Vail, Colorado

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