Loveland opens to an excited crowd |

Loveland opens to an excited crowd

Janice Kurbjun
Special to the Daily/Casey DaySkiers and snowboarders flocked to Loveland Ski Area Sunday to mark the opening day of the season. It is the second year in a row that Loveland is the first ski area in the state to open.

LOVELAND – Sunday’s opening day at Loveland Ski Area had locals and folks from the Front Range feeling a little puff of powder under their planks.

Between a little help from Mother Nature – five inches of fresh snow – and some hard snowmaking work from Loveland employees, Chair 1 opened at 9 a.m. to an excited crowd. Winterhounds out for the first day saluted Loveland’s opening day triumph – beating Arapahoe Basin by a day this year.

Loveland won the race from 1999 to 2005 until the Basin unseated the champion in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the resorts tied for an opening day, but last season, Loveland regained the title.

The Basin opens the new Black Mountain Express at 9 a.m. Monday with access to intermediate terrain on High Noon as well as some terrain park features. Saturday night’s 7 inches of natural snow along with a forecasted one-foot of snow on Sunday night should complement the week’s snowmaking efforts. A ribbon cutting celebration for the new lift is slated for just before 9 a.m.

Loveland’s Catwalk, Mambo and Homerun formed a top-to-bottom trail with an 18-inch base that many said was better than some mid-season days in previous years. There were also three terrain park rails set up for skiers and riders to smack-slide over during the day.

Breckenridge’s Clint Ketchum could hardly wipe the smile off his face as he stopped for a brief moment, long enough to comment, “It could be winter all the time.”

Keith Spargo of Golden and Dan Bowers of Boulder said they were set on finding some snow this weekend, whether it was on Loveland or Berthoud passes or in Rocky Mountain National Park.

But then Spargo checked the Loveland website Saturday afternoon, as the’s been doing religiously since last weekend’s rumors that Loveland’s opening day was close.

“We saw they were open,” Spargo said. “The phone calls went out, and for everybody who was talking, (Dan) was the only one who said he’d go.”

Spargo and Bowers generally ski Loveland until Winter Park, Steamboat and Copper Mountain open and backcountry terrain becomes accessible.

“We pretty much hate summer,” Bowers said. “I’ll come right out and say it. We got an extra four weeks of it in the city so this means more coming out today than usual.”

Englewood’s Tom Collins said he checked Loveland’s website at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, saw the ski area was open, loaded the car and made it to the slopes by 10 a.m.

“It’s been great,” he said, adding that it’s likely the last powder day that there won’t be Denver traffic. “It doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all. It feels great to be outside.”

Chair 1 wasn’t too crowded until about 1 p.m. It was around then that, allegedly, Saturday’s party-goers awoke, located their long-lost ski equipment and hauled up to the Continental Divide for the early season turns.

When asked if they’d be at Arapahoe Basin’s opening day Monday, many Loveland skiers and riders declined to release whether they’d be on the slopes or at work.

SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at

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