Ski season starts to crank

Oct 262005
Authors: Sarah Rawley

It feels like fall in Fort Collins, but it is officially winter in the mountains.

The ski slopes are now open and there are lots of new changes for the season.

For the seventh consecutive year, Loveland was the first resort in the nation to open at the early date of Oct. 14. They have been keeping a consistent base of 18 to 21 inches for the past two weeks.

"This is some of the best early season snow we've ever seen. It always makes everyone think it is going to be a good snow year," said Kathryn Johnson, marketing manager for Loveland Ski Resort.

This year has seen record-breaking numbers in volume of people on the slopes for Loveland, Johnson said.

"I like how everybody is happy to be out there. It's not necessarily the conditions that matter, its about having a good time and the community atmosphere," said Josh Metton, natural resource management major.

Arapahoe Basin was the next resort to open on Oct. 23 with an 18-inch base of manmade snow from mid-mountain to the base area.

New additions to Arapahoe Basin this year are the High Divide terrain park for beginners and a new rental/repair shop with a state-of-the-art tuning center.

"The terrain park continues to be a bigger part of the business. Last year the monthly rail jams were a huge success. It shows where the industry is going," said Meisha Lawson, marketing manager for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

Breckenridge started blowing manmade snow Monday, and expects to open limited terrain Nov. 11.

They are anticipating the grand opening Jan. 12 of the highest lift in North America, the Imperial Lift, which will access the top of Peak Eight at 12,840 feet.

"We have seen a growth in the backcountry trend. People want to have that extreme experience, but aren't necessarily familiar with safety measures. By building this lift we have made more terrain accessible that is safe," said Katie Coakley, communications coordinator for Breckenridge.

Keystone also plans to open Nov. 11 and kick off the season with "36 hours of Keystone" the following weekend.

Vail plans to open Nov. 18.

The big storm that hit the Front Range Oct. 11 dusted the resorts with several inches of snow, including 30 inches at Breckenridge, however more is needed to have a sufficient base.

"Watch the snow, and if the snow starts to fall, then it means it's getting good," Lawson said.

The ski season is approaching quickly but it's not too late to purchase a season pass.

The best place to get a 5 Mountain Pass, which accesses Vail, Beaver Creek, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, and Breckenridge, at the discounted price is at the Colorado Snowsports Expo Nov. 4 through 6 at the Colorado Convention Center.

The ski show will have other lift ticket and lodging deals as well.

Loveland's best deal is the 4-pack for $99 or $89 at the show.

"Ours is unique because four different people can use the tickets and there are no blackout dates," Johnson said.

A few more winter storms may be necessary before the season picks up, but with a forecast of a chance of snow this weekend, according, it won't be long until the powder is flying.

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