Skiers ring in new season at Loveland
Loveland Ski Area, CO Colorado
LOVELAND SKI AREA, Colorado ” For Josh Wolf, getting back on the mountain at Colorado’s Loveland Ski Area for the first time this season was like a reawakening.
“It just feels like being alive again after being in hibernation all summer,” Wolf said Wednesday, minutes before the sun’s first rays touched down at the base of the ski area.
The 30-year-old snowboarder came up early from Silverthorne to wait in line for opening day at Loveland. Braving the dawn chill was a small price to pay to be among the few who got to kick off the U.S. ski and snowboard season.
“I haven’t been up at 8:30 since April,” Wolf said.
Loveland announced Tuesday that it would be the first mountain in the country to open for the season ” by half an hour. Arapahoe Basin had already tried to claim that distinction for the third straight year by announcing Monday that its chairs would start running at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“It’s always last-minute,” said John Sellers, director of marketing for Loveland, on Wednesday. “We never know until the day or two before. We made the decision yesterday after a good, cold weekend that we’d be ready to go today.”
When Loveland scheduled its opening for 8:30, A-Basin followed suit. The back-and-forth stopped there, Sellers said. The 8:30 opening is standard at Loveland for holidays such as opening day, he said, and there was no strong desire to one-up the other mountain.
“It is a friendly competition,” Sellers said, adding that there was communication between Loveland and A-Basin in the run-up to the season. “Since we were both opening on the same day, we just decided to call it a tie.”
Going head to head with the other mountain ” and having begun promoting its opening a day later ” may have taken a toll on Loveland’s skier numbers. Dustin Schaefer, Loveland’s group sales coordinator, said the early-morning turnout was lower than he had seen in previous years.
“That’s the smallest opening day lift line I’ve ever seen in my life,” Schaefer said as he watched the first riders of the season board Chair 1. “Even when we opened after A-Basin, it was longer.”
For a number of people boarding Loveland’s lifts Wednesday, the size of the crowds is one of the mountain’s main attractions.
“That’s one of the nice things about Loveland,” said John Gwinner, of Denver, who said it was his first opening day in 15 years of skiing. “If you don’t like lines, this is definitely the place to come.”
Wolf said the elbow room helped him decide where to spend opening day.
“There’s probably 100 people in line at A-Basin,” he said.
News Editor Evan Gibbard can be reached at 970-748-2922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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