Vail locals claim Arapahoe Basin’s first chair
SUMMIT COUNTY — Being on first chair at North America’s ski season opening day has been a dream of Cesar Hermosillo’s for many years.
The eternal bridesmaid of opening day, Hermosillo has been on second chair more times than he can count, and has made first chair at all the local openings except the big one. That spot is claimed every year by “Nate Dogggg” Nadler and a few of his friends; this year Nadler celebrated 20 consecutive opening day first chairs.
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When Loveland Ski Area announced on Monday that they would be opening this Thursday, Nadler hit the road. He had been preparing for weeks.
“We pay attention to the way they blow the snow and how the weather’s looking,” Nadler said Thursday. “When we get the first signs that it’s about five days away that’s when we pack our bags and have them sitting, and then you have to create your food list, your drink list, make sure you have gas to cook your food, make sure you have all your necessities so you don’t have to leave. Because the second you leave, somebody will inevitably try to come through and say ‘oh, he wasn’t here, I got first chair.’”
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‘HERE’S YOUR CHANCE’
While Nadler was camping out at Loveland, Arapahoe Basin started planning their opening day for the same day, meaning this year, there would actually be two opening day first chair opportunities.
Nadler said when he got the word that A Basin would also open Thursday, he let Hermosillo know.
“From doing this for so long I have inside sources, and I would get maybe a text message or an email, before the press release by like a half hour,” Nadler said. “So when I got the message this year that A Basin and Loveland were opening on the same day, I messaged Cesar and said ‘Here’s your chance for first chair at the Basin.’”
Hermosillo got to A Basin at around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.
“There was no one there yet, so we claimed our spot under the lift,” he said.
Joining him on first chair were Vail locals Gretchen Pleshaw and Tyler Moore. Former Vail resident Ace Accetturo, now a Summit County local, rounded out the fourth spot.
ALMOST MISSED NUMBER 20
Nadler’s streak nearly ended this year when Killington ski area in Vermont and Sunday River in Maine both opened for a few days earlier this month.
“When I heard they were opening I started looking at plane tickets online, but I realized I just couldn’t do it,” he said. “So I was scared, but I was also not scared because also looked at NOAA and researched the weather coming up, and I knew they only had a 16 inch base.”
For the first chair claim to be a true claim, the resort has to begin continuous operation on that day, says Nadler.
“Otherwise where do you draw the line,” he said. “There’s resorts like Mt. Hood or Copper who stay open weekends all summer into the fall.”
In the past, Nadler has caught a first chair at a resort, only to have it close back up a few days later. In turn he would head to the next one to open for continuous operation, which he would claim as the true first chair.
“Over the years there’s been resorts in Minnesota, Vermont, Maine, they’ve all opened but then closed again,” he said. “In Colorado the resorts tend to stay open once they start up operations.”
However, if Loveland were to close back down and A Basin remain open, Nadler understands he would cede this year’s claim to Hermosillo and crew.
It’s a risk he was willing to take to be back at the ski area that started it all.
“This is where it all started, 20 years ago at Loveland,” Nadler said Thursday. “We waited for 5 days just to snake that first chair.”
So who was actually first up the mountain? Loveland’s chair departed 5 minutes early, heading up the slope at 8:55 a.m., so Nadler could lay claim to 20 years.
“I think we were truly the first,” he said.