Skiers, snowboarders enjoy best early season conditions in years
• Born Free
• Mid Vail Express
• Look Ma
• Hunky Dory
• The Skipper
• Whistle Pig
VAIL — Skiers and snowboards enjoyed the best Opening Day conditions in years on Friday.
Crowds were gathered at Vail Mountain’s loading stations — Gondola One, Chair 8 and the Eagle Bahn Gondola — hours ahead of the 9 a.m. scheduled start, eager to see the 23 inches of new snow the resort had reported exactly one week earlier and whatever fell after that. Within minutes of opening, the crowds quickly dispersed to other areas on the mountains and by 9:30 a.m., there was no line whatsoever at Chair 8 and the Eagle Bahn gondola.
While it was the gondola which was first to begin loading passengers up the mountain, on Vail’s Opening Day the celebration always surrounds Chair 8. The first on that chair was Keystone skier Jason MacFarlane, joined by Vail Valley residents Jennifer Natbony, Max Breuer and Cesar Hermosillo.
Hermosillo said after waiting there all night in the cold for his spot, he was greeted with a nice surprise Friday morning that made the camping totally worth it.
“Some Vail officials came over and told me Lindsey Vonn was going to come stand next to me for the countdown and the ribbon cutting,” Hermosillo said.
Hermosillo, an everyday skier who has made first chair at Vail for the past four years in a row, said Vonn told him she was familiar with him through reputation.
“Everyone knows of her, but I was very surprised to hear she knows of me,” he said. “Then she gave me a Red Bull.”
Hermosillo made his way over to Chair 2 after riding Chair 8. He said it was one of the better opening days he’s skied.
“The snow was pretty great,” he said.
LOTS OF TERRAIN
There was plenty of terrain to explore. While lower Born Free has been the sole run open for the past few Opening Days at Vail, in addition to the upper portion of that run, 500 acres to the east of it were open as well.
Erin Swentosky and Jess Angeline, of Pennsylvania, were visiting Vail for the first time on Friday.
“I can’t believe how good the conditions are,” Swentosky said.
By the afternoon, clouds had given way to sunny skies and temperatures crept into the 40s near the base areas.
“It’s beautiful out here,” Angeline said.
Joined by his friend Dakota Lewis, of Oklahoma, Patrick Schilling, of Dallas, said he heard there would be fresh snow on the mountain for this year’s Opening Day at Vail, so he scheduled some business in Denver for this week.
“The snow is fantastic,” he said from Chair 4 on Friday.
Vail Valley resident Scott Harrison picked up his daughters, 8-year-old Cydney and 7-year-old Caroline, from school and took them right to the mountain to catch the end of the ski day.
“I wish I could have spent Opening Days out on the mountain like this when I was a kid,” Harrison said.
In Vail Village, Simone Larese enjoyed her first Opening Day as a shopkeeper in her new Swiss hot dog establishment, The Blu Cow.
“We stayed pretty busy all day,” she said.
Nearby, Sasha Gros, of Vista Bahn ski rentals, said he was busy as well but with tunes more than rentals.
“We were seeing a lot of skis with base and p-tex damage from the rocks underneath the snow,” Gros said. “Everybody seemed to be really loving it out there, though.”