Vail’s season opener kicks off with fresh snow |

Vail’s season opener kicks off with fresh snow

Melanie Wong
After a long night of camping out in the snowy weather, a group of local skiers from right, Cesar Hermosillo, John Olthouse, Jennifer Natbony, and Keith Gordon catch first chair of Vail's 2013-14 season on the Born Free Express Friday in Lionshead.
Justin McCarty | |

VAIL — Cesar Hermosillo is stoked about the upcoming ski season — so stoked, in fact, that he was camping out more than 24 hours before Vail’s Opening Day with his friends in order to get the coveted first chair.

“We’re aiming to be first on Chair 8 and get the first run down Born Free,” said Hermosillo, a Vail resident. “It’s just fun being that first one down the mountain. Plus, we have an addiction to skiing, especially in Vail. It’s a feeling of being back home.”

Hermosillo and a group of friends, armed with camp stoves, music and sleeping bags, were among many other snow enthusiasts who were lined up to sample Vail’s snow on the mountain’s Opening Day on Friday. The previous night had logged 4 inches of fresh snow, and the slopes debuted with four lifts/gondolas open and a front side looking decent for early season conditions.

“We hope to have more terrain open soon,” said Sara Lococo, of mountain communications. “The front side is in good shape. We’re just looking to fill in gaps on the smaller runs and connector trails to make it enjoyable and safe for everyone.”

In Vail Village, it was the first time Gondola One was in operation on Opening Day, and a small crowd had already gathered more than an hour before the gondola started moving for the 9 a.m. start time. The gondola was new last season but was not running on Opening Day due to lack of snow.

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East Vail resident Jomon Keelan had arrived at 6:30 a.m. to be the first on the gondola. It was his first first-chair, and he said he was eager to get out on the mountain.

“I grew up in Denver, so I never really had the option to do first chair,” he said. “Now I work up here and wanted to get out there.”

Vail Resorts entertained the early morning crowd with burritos and hot chocolate, while a Red Bull truck provided a live DJ. Some skiers and riders were all business, aiming to get a quick few runs in.

Eagle-Vail brothers Andreas and Bjorn Bauer resurrected their annual tradition of skiing the first day of the season in authentic German lederhosen, complemented by thrift store sweaters.

“We wear this for opening and closing day every year,” Bjorn Bauer said.

“We’re hoping this is the beginning of an ice age,” Andreas Bauer added.

Others came from further away to get early tracks on Vail Mountain, such as sisters Elexis and Jax Mariash. Elexis lives in Denver and Jax lives in Jackson, Wyo., and they came up to spend the night in Vail so they could be one of the first on the mountain.

“We used to come here as kids, and it’s where we learned to ski,” said Elexis Mariash. “It’s our childhood playground. We had never been here for Opening Day so we decided to do a sister trip. This is the epitome of Colorado and the ski season.”

Beaver Creek opens for skiing and snowboarding on Wednesday.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at and 970-748-2927.

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