Breckenridge opens for the 2016-17 season under bluebird skies | VailDaily.com

Breckenridge opens for the 2016-17 season under bluebird skies

Phil Lindeman
plindeman@summitdaily.com

And with that, all of Summit County is now open for ski business.

On Saturday at 9 a.m., the first chair of six skiers and snowboarders took off from the base of Peak 8 for Breckenridge Ski Resort's long-delayed opening day. Two Colorado families made the early-morning trip to Breckenridge, leaving their houses at 5 a.m. in hopes of snagging the first chair.

"We woke up at 3:45 a.m.," said 9-year-old Ashlyn Disette from Roxborough, Colorado.

And it paid off. Ashlyn and her father, Alex Disette, along with their friends, Emma Harrell, 10, Dillon Harrell, 12, and their parents, Courtney and Andrew Harrell from Peyton, Colorado, shared the first chair of the season together.

"It's a beautiful start to the season," Alex Disette said.

Hundreds of fellow riders crowded the queue behind the first lucky few on Colorado SuperChair, bringing an official end to the long (and sometimes frustrating) wait for the 2016-17 ski season to begin in full. With Breck, all of Summit's five ski areas are now open for the winter. All are hoping for more snow — and more snow soon. The county finally received its first true snowstorm just two days prior on Thursday, Nov. 17, but by the time lifts started spinning at Peak 8 the sun was out and temps were reaching into the 40s.

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"Thanks to Mother Nature's recent snow and the hard work of the Breckenridge mountain operations team, we're ready and excited to open for the winter season on Peak 8," said Gary Shimanowitz, vice president of mountain operations, in a release from Breckenridge earlier in the week. "Breckenridge Ski Resort is focused on providing excellent snow conditions for all of our guests and we hope everyone enjoys getting the winter season started this weekend."

Measly snowfall and above-average temps meant Breck's snowmaking efforts were derailed by several weeks — resort officials bumped opening day from Nov. 11 to Nov. 19 earlier this month — and the resort opened with just one top-to-bottom run: Crescendo leading to lower Springmeier, so more like two runs if we're getting technical. The neighboring runs on all sides were nearly bare, marked by red rope strung between "Closed" signs to keep guests off of the brown grass jutting from beneath a blanket of 4 or 5 inches.

But did the 3,000-plus skiers and riders mind? Not hardly. After all, opening day at Breck is always a party, no matter what the snow is like, and by 1 p.m., the patio at T-Bar and Ski Hill Grill was packed with sunbathers working on a November goggle tan. Steps away, the line at the lone chairlift was bustling and a DJ was spinning tunes. There were hockey jerseys, Teletubbies, chicken suits and something that looked like a fuzzy leopard dipped in pink lemonade.

Welcome back, Breckenridge. Here's to a good season.