Record opening day at "The Beav’ |

Record opening day at "The Beav’

Veronica Whitney
Ballons herald the opening of Beaver Creek Resort below the Centennial Lift Saturday.

“It was a record opening in terms of snow and people since the mountain opened in 1980,” said Emily Jacobs, Beaver Creek spokeswoman.

Adam Aron, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, declined to release skier numbers for Beaver Creek’s opening day following Vail Resorts’ policy of not releasing skier numbers until the earnings report in January.

“We can’t release numbers at this point, but all parking lots were full. It was a record day,” Jacobs said.

Last week, Aron did release the numbers for this year’s opening weekend at Vail Mountain. About 11,000 skiers and snowboarders were at Vail on its opening day, Saturday the busiest opening day in the mountain’s 40-year history, Aron said; and by Sunday, more than 17,000 people had hit the slopes.

Vail and Beaver Creek got got an extra 8 inches of snow Sunday, bringing the total to more than 100 inches since mid-October. Before Dec. 1, Vail will open 5,000 acres of terrain; Beaver Creek will open 1,200 acres, or 75 percent of its terrain.

“It’s always wonderful to start a season with so much snow,” Jacobs said. “All reservations are looking strong; everything is very positive. Having snow early helps bolster the season because people feel more comfortable booking their vacations when there is snow.”

Opening weekend also was a busy time for merchants in Beaver Creek. Chris Coleman, general manager at Base Mountain Sports, said the store located in the heart of the village has had a lot of sales.

“It was a good weekend for us,” Coleman said. “We saw over-excitement and above-average crowds for an opening weekend.”

Deborah Hannon, supervisor at Gorsuch Beaver Creek, said Saturday wasn’t too busy; but Sunday and Monday, she said, she could already see more tourists coming in to the store.

“Last weekend wasn’t holiday busy,” Hannon said. “But I’m expecting a busier week – and we’re ready.”

Even the skating rink in the village got busier in its second weekend open.

“We rented about 120 pairs of skates; we have 200,” said Jason Ernst of Beaver Creek Skate Rental.

The highlight at Vail Mountain this week is the opening today of Blue Sky Basin. Ropes at the expansion area, which opened January 2000, will drop today at 10 a.m. The Skyline Express chairlift, together with either Earl’s Express lift or Pete’s Express lift, will service the area, said Jen Brown, spokeswoman for Vail Mountain.

Skiers and riders who head there today will find it tracked up already because the mountain was opened briefly from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Brown said.

“It was waist-deep on Iron Mask below the cornice in Blue Sky Basin,” said a one lucky skier who made the cut Monday.

In addition to the lifts in Blue Sky Basin, Vail today will open the Sourdough lift, or Chair 14, allowing access to Two Elk Restaurant, and the Orient Express Lift, or Chair 21, in China Bowl. Two Elk Restaurant, at the top of China Bowl, and the Golden Peak Grill in the Golden Peak base lodge also will open for the season.

In Beaver Creek, the Strawberry Park Express and Bachelor Gulch Express lifts accessing much of Beaver Creek’s western terrain will open Thursday for Thanksgiving, allowing access to the recently opened Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

The target opening date for Arrowhead is Dec. 14, Jacobs said.

Although no snow is expected for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there will be plenty of sun and cool temperatures, said Troy Lindquist, meterorolgist with the National Weather forecast in Grand Junction.

“Thursday will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of snow showers,” Lindquist said. “Otherwise, it will be sunny and cool with highs in the upper 20s and 30s.”

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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