VIDEO: Beaver Creek begins the 2021-22 season on a mellow Monday
WATCH: Reporter John LaConte finds his former Vail Daily colleague Ross Leonhart out on the slopes of Beaver Creek for Opening Day 2021-22.
Beaver Creek Resort enjoyed a relaxed Opening Day on Monday, with uncrowded slopes and lift mazes greeting skiers and snowboarders.
A DJ played music as revelers ate “beaver tail” treats and drank free coffee and hot cocoa from the Beaver Creek staff on hand. The beaver tail pastry is the signature item from Sweet Beaver Treats, which also opened Monday.
In Beaver Creek village, restaurants and galleries also opened for the season. Horton Fine Art displayed a heavy texture oil painting of a bison by Estes Park-based artist Dawn Normali in the village, where Beaver Creek in 2020-21 created new art installations aiming to provide a “whimsical, magical forest” experience, as described in a recent video from the resort.
Helmut Fricker played his alpenhorn for the 41st straight year in Beaver Creek, reminiscing on simpler times in Vail when he played accordion in the early 1970s at restaurants like the Blu Cow, which was founded by the late Ernst Larese and now run by his daughter, Simone Larese.
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Restaurants in Beaver Creek’s resort village began serving guests for the season on Monday, as well. Blue Moose Pizza workers Sophie Hammond, Hayden Johnson and Sean Tracy camped out at the base of the mountain the night before in order to have the honors of being first up Beaver Creek mountain for the new ski season.
Hammond was carrying on a tradition she has long enjoyed with her father, EagleVail resident “First Chair Fred” Hammond. Fred and Sophie have riden dozens of first chairs over the years.
Sophie said her father arrived to the base of Beaver Creek at about 10 p.m. Sunday to claim his first-in-line spot. Sophie got there about an hour later with her friends. She said it wasn’t too cold, and she was able to get some sleep in the public bathroom.
“I got a half-hour in the public bathroom at like 6 a.m.,” she said.
Johnson said overnight temperatures weren’t bad.
“It was in the 30s all night. It really wasn’t terrible,” he said.
Upon exiting the lift, Fred Hammond left his calling card — a fist-sized divot in the Opening Day banner which impacts, but does not break, the banner.
Once on the slopes, the crew was greeted by a freshly-groomed surface on the Gold Dust and Latigo runs, with ungroomed stashes alongside the runs.
The runs were uncrowded in the morning and remained that way into the afternoon. Sunny skies moistened the human-made snow into a grippy surface that could be skied on aggressively as the day went on.
The Haymeadow Gondola was running, offering beginners their own dedicated ski area and lift.
Ski patrollers, including director Addy McCord, reminded eager snow riders to keep it slow.
While Beaver Creek Ski Patrol has welcomed both skiers and snowboarders into its ranks over the years, McCord is neither, taking to the slopes on a Sno-Go brand skibike, which could be better described as a ski trike; it uses two skis in the rear to achieve what the brand calls “synchronized lateral articulation technology” to mimic the motions of a parallel skier.
And other interesting varieties of equipment were on display, as well. Snow skater Jon Scharfencamp said he entertained numerous questions about the bindingness device he was riding, passing out discount code “skatecamp” for Hovland Snowskates’ marquee product.
Telemark skier Charlie Vogel of Gypsum was to the top of the lift by 1:30 p.m. after taking advantage of the free parking, which began at 1 p.m. in the surface lots on the valley floor.
“I’m a local, so I’m waiting out the free parking,” he said with a smile.