‘Most Opening Day terrain in years’
VAIL — You know it’s a good Opening Day when Vail Mountain begins the season with two-thirds the amount of terrain that Beaver Creek has when fully open.
With 39 inches of snow recorded already in November, Vail will open this morning with groomed, ungroomed, tracked and untracked runs ready for skiers and snowboarders. Vail announced Thursday there will be 1,150 acres open and nine lifts running, including the marquee improvement for this season, the six-passenger Chair 2.
Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said it was the most Opening Day terrain the resort has seen in years.
“And with the additional snow that is forecast, we expect to be able to add terrain between now and Thanksgiving to make for a great holiday at Vail,” he said. “This is definitely shaping up to be an early-season not to miss!”
FIRST CHAIRS OF THE SEASON
Skiers and snowboarders started camping out at nightfall on Thursday in an effort to be on the first chair of the season. With Chair 8, the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Gondola One all running right away on Opening Day, nearly two dozen riders will be able to say they made Vail’s first chair of the 2015-16 ski season.
The true first chair award, however, will go to whomever makes it to the new Chair 2 first.
Vail first-chair veteran Cesar Hermosillo was camping out at Chair 8 in order to make it to Chair 2 first.
“I’m sure there will be a ribbon cutting and pin giveaway, so I want to make sure I’m there first,” he said. “After that, I’ve got my route all planned out, and I’m expecting to get some great powder turns before the rest of the crowds get here.”
Hermosillo has been on Vail’s first chair for the past four years. This year, he also made first chair at Arapahoe Basin and Keystone. He says while the camp-out session is usually more about celebrating the season and less about the actual skiing, this year being on first chair will also ensure he gets some fresh powder.
“Conditions have been so good this early season,” he said.
On Wednesday, Hermosillo got the first tracks down a powdery Flying Dutchman run at Keystone. His protege Jennifer Natbony was the one who noticed ski patrol about to drop the ropes.
“I learned from the master,” she said.
Natbony represented the lone female at Thursday’s camp-out session. She said she does it for the same reason as the guys — the love of the sport.
“I’ve done it the last couple of years, now it’s becoming a tradition that I don’t want to miss,” she said.
New to the scene this year is Tyler Moore, who moved to Vail three years ago from Kansas at age 23 and is now finally feeling comfortable enough to join the hardcores for first chair. He also made first chair at A Basin and Keystone along with Hermosillo.
“The community here is really unique,” he said. “It’s welcoming, it draws you in and it’s really fun to be a part of.”
Snowplowing efforts are a prime example of how sometimes the very people who need a service hinder its delivery.