Skiers, snowboarders hit the slopes at Arapahoe Basin’s opening day
Hundreds of smiling but cold faces made their way to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to kick off ski season on opening day Sunday, Oct. 17.
While the first chair on the Black Mountain Express was claimed by some familiar faces — Nate Dogggg, Tom Miller, Sean Ozz and Chad Otterstrom — everyone was just as excited to wait their turn for a lift ride.
Zach Ryan made it onto the third chair up the Black Mountain Express and said snow conditions were great. He said a mid-October opening day is all he could ask for and that ski season is only going to get better from here.
“They put down a great product for us on opening day,” Ryan said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for after kind of a funky winter last year. … It’s good to be back to relatively normal.”
Mike Macpherson and Ryan Siegrist said they came to opening day to take part in the 2021 iteration of the 6th Alley Mug Club. Before the lift was even running, folks were lined up to ensure they could be a part of the prestigious club and earn themselves discounted drinks all season. The A-Basin bar sells about 400 custom glass mugs, and at the end of the season everyone takes theirs home.
Support Local Journalism
Cassie Peterinelli started snowboarding for the first time at A-Basin last year, and she said she’s excited about this season’s more normal setting. The High Noon run — which was the only route available for opening day — was the first run she ever went down, and she was happy to kick off her second season the same way.
“It’s really cool to come back and start in the same place,” Peterinelli said. “It’s so cool to see the energy, especially after last year. … My first day last year during opening week was nothing like this.”
Marie Komori moved to Colorado in May and is used to East Coast slopes, but she left home at 4:30 a.m. for opening day just to say she did it. Having previously lived in New York City, Komori said getting to decent snow used to be a challenge.
“This is unreal,” Komori said. “This is like the reason I moved here. All my dreams come true.”
Jake Miller has been skiing at A-Basin since the 90s, and he said he hasn’t missed opening day in many years. He said that it was, as always, amazing.
“It’s great to be back out after a weird season last year,” Miller said. “The snow is great, the vibe is great, everybody’s having fun. It’s nice to be back making turns.”
Newlyweds Katie and Chris McCormick came to opening day to celebrate their one-month anniversary. Dressed in pajama onesies, Chris said it’s too early to take skiing seriously.
“A-Basin vibes are fantastic,” Chris said. “(It’s) always laid back and great skiing.”
“We’re just happy to be here and have fun and ski with other people,” Katie added. “With COVID and everything it’s just nice to be back out.”
A-Basin spokesperson Katherine Fuller said she almost forgot what a typical opening day looks like, as the last two years have seen smaller crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ski area announcing its opening just a couple hours before lifts fired up.
“This is normal to have a bunch of people here and to have somebody who is grilling breakfast sandwiches in the lift line and people in costumes and the Mug Club line going out the door and around the building,” Fuller said. “It’s so nice to kind of have everything back to normal. This is when this place feels most alive is when we’re surrounded by people who love doing what we love to do.”
Fuller continued to say that A-Basin will remain open seven days a week moving forward, but she said given High Noon’s intermediate difficulty beginners may want to wait for easier runs to open up. While visitors aren’t required to make reservations this year, the ski area is requiring guests to buy lift tickets online in advance.
“We are actually limiting lift ticket sales every day to kind of help control crowds,” Fuller said. “… We realized that our guests were actually really happy when we don’t cram as many people on the hill as possible.”