Piling on for the 40th | VailDaily.com

Piling on for the 40th

Don Rogers

All this is quite a contrast to last summer’s drought – although, yes, yes, the scientists cluck that the drought is far from over – and the governor’s infamous golly gee declaration last summer that the whole state was on fire. About time for an “all the ski resorts are opening!”

Well, patience. We still must wait on Beaver Creek, which appears all too determined to ignore the weather and hold to the original schedule.

The anticipation is nearly too much for Vail, as well, which moved opening day up a week. The most anxious and hardy riders already have trekked the hills for their rides. Their reports only whet the rest of our anticipation. Pete Sr. must be smiling somewhere. The mountain doesn’t need the snow dancers this year, that’s for sure.

The nation’s economic winds remain blustery, and Iraq is making nice this week as Saddam resumes the cat-and-mouse contest with the Great Satan, or whatever he is calling the United States these days.

Maybe war will wait, after all. More likely, though, Saddam is watching the weather, too, with an eye on when the winds come, followed by heat, each not very conducive to ground invasions.

In the meantime, the ski hills throughout the state have that coveted early start to begin the gravy train of skiers to stir life again at the base villages.

Our kingpin mountain, Vail, will open more terrain than ever before this early. That’s a great way to start on the mountain’s next 40 years.

It will also ease Vail Resorts’ adjustment to restructuring itself into a leaner operation in some ways, and perhaps complicate it in others. The company has gambled on growing, and growing into other ventures outside lifts and ski in-ski out real estate. Brave face notwithstanding, the recent year-end report delivered some reason for shivers. And ending the tenure of well-respected President Andy Daly was a symbolic blow, particularly locally.

Those bargain basement acquistions of Heavenly and Rockresorts hotels will need to begin to pay off relatively soon, looking from the cold business side of the equation.

So some prayers in the executive suites, as well as among we more mortal skiers and snowboarders, are being answered. Pray it continues. It’s a long season, and the snow, even when coming early, has not been all that plentiful these past handful of seasons.

This would be an auspicious year for the snow to keep coming, the first without Seibert, and perhaps the last before Vail takes on that overdue crusade of renovation.

And all of us are here, aching for a good season on the hill, whether on a board or planks. Tout summer all you like. We’re really here for what Saturday brings – the lifts firing up. It’s time.


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