Ski, snowboard season kicks off in Vail |

Ski, snowboard season kicks off in Vail

Melanie Wong
Nacen Gray and Mookie of the Vail Ski Patrol take off from Gondola one in Vail on Thursday. Mookie tugs at his own leash in anticipation of his first day on the job for the season.
townsend Bessent | |

What’s open?

Beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, skiers and snowboarders will have access to the following lifts and 540 acres of skiable terrain in these areas on Vail Mountain:

• Gondola One

• Avanti Express Lift (No. 2)

• Wildwood Express Lift (No. 3)

• Mountain Top Express Lift (No. 4)

• Born Free Express Lift (No. 8)

• Little Eagle Lift (No. 15)

• Eagle Bahn Gondola

Skiers and snowboarders will also have access to a terrain park experience on Born Free with nine features including eight boxes and rails, and one small jump. Beginner terrain will be offered at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola via the Little Eagle Lift (No. 15).

VAIL — And so another season begins …

Just ask Cesar Hermosillo, who has been camped out in front of Chair 8 in Lionshead Village since midday on Thursday with his friends Jennifer Natbony and Max Breuer.

He and a growing group of other diehards were eagerly awaiting the official opening of Vail Mountain for the ski season — the lifts start running at 9 a.m. Friday.

“We’re just excited for Vail. We’ve camped out four years in a row. So far this year we got second chair at A-Basin and first gondola at Keystone,” said the East Vail resident.

He said he expects the snow to be good and is excited for the snow the storm brought last week.

“It’s so fun to ski that first run without 100 people in front of you. I think the conditions are going to be great,” Hermosillo said. “I’m just excited to have home back open.”

Vail Mountain opens with 540 acres of terrain on the frontside, with access from both gondolas in Vail Village and Lionshead, as well as chairs 2, 3 and 4. The resort celebrated the kick off of the season with free breakfast burritos and hot cocoa for early risers, and the Red Bull DJ truck provided music at the gondola base.

Beaver Creek follows suit next week, opening for skiing on Nov. 26.

Ready for the season

Businesses in the ski villages have also been eagerly awaiting Opening Day. The last week has brought increasingly more traffic to the Lionshead area, said Adam Hart, store manager of Double Diamond ski shop.

“People are walking around, and we’ve been watching the on-mountain employees getting trained,” he said on Thursday afternoon. “The lifts are turned on. It feels like things are ready to go.”

A big Opening Day with plentiful terrain such as this year is always good for business, shops said.

“We’ve already got a decent amount of reservations on the books,” Hart said. “Hopefully we’ll see a decent amount of skier traffic starting Thanksgiving. Having a big opening and having chairs 2, 3, and 4 open will definitely help a lot.”

At Buzz’s Boards, which celebrates its 31 years in business this season, ski technician Nick Szydlowski said the shop has been busy with local skiers and riders getting gear and tunes. He’s already had people from out of town calling the shop to ask about the snow and the local weather report, he said.

“I remember a couple years ago the gondola wasn’t open at first,” he said. “People had to take the bus over to the other village. That put a damper on business.”

Snow, with a chance of cold

Skiers and rider who come to Vail for its first weekend will likely be treated to more snow, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Daniels.

As of Thursday evening, the forecast called for a storm bringing up to a foot of snow between Saturday and Sunday, with on-and-off snow continuing through Tuesday.

“We’re looking at a potential for a pretty decent storm,” he said. “Anything that moves in from the west and northwest like this one is favorable for that area. What’s encouraging is that it looks like it will come in waves and persist through Tuesday.”

However, temperatures are also expected to drop, with lows on Sunday and Monday in the single digits and highs in the 20s over the weekend.

Saturday night could bring some high winds and blowing snow, so travelers may have adverse conditions, he warned.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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