Dec 012004
Authors: Eric KlamperBy Eric Klamper

Whether you prefer catching flakes on your tongue, building anatomically correct snowmen or taking advantage of Colorado's legendary snow-covered topography, the recent downpour of snow has many Fort Collins residents biting at the bit to take advantage of the snowstorm.

While many newcomers to this state, particularly Texas freshmen, remain baffled by this bizarre accumulation of cold white stuff all over our fair town, Colorado natives know that this last snowstorm marks the beginning of yet another winter of hot chocolate, snowball fights and perhaps unparalleled skiing and snowboarding.

There are already 18 Colorado resorts with runs open, according to the National Weather Service Ski Report, and the snowfall over Fall Recess only helped to quicken the opening of more runs and resorts.

"It's amazing how one storm can change the terrain into midseason quality snow," said Kelly Ladyga, director of corporate communications for Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge resorts. "It was a dryer start to the season but, sure enough, we had 3 feet of snow over the holiday at Vail and Beaver Creek."

The CSU Snowriders has also benefited from the holiday weather. With more than 400 members and new students joining every day, the Snowriders are certainly excited about the new snow.

"We're totally stoked about this season," said Nick Macias, a senior electrical engineer major and Snowriders officer. "We have record membership this year. We're connecting students with other people who just love to ride. It's just a really good time for everyone involved."

The CSU Snowriders club offers trips to Colorado resorts every weekend and discounted tickets, rentals, food and drink. More information on the club is available at www.

"We target freshmen students, particularly the ones from out of state," Macias said. "If you're from Colorado, you already know the mountains and the snow we get here. But people from out of state and foreign-exchange students are in for a great time when they get to experience riding here."

Fort Collins businesses are also preparing for the season's rush of ski and snowboard enthusiasts. The Wright Life, 200 Linden St., anticipates a surge of customers through the holiday season.

"The rest of the season will be pretty busy, especially when the Christmas sales begin," said Bill Wright, owner of The Wright Life. "People get really psyched around this time. The cold snap hits and everyone's jazzed about seeing snow on the ground all over town."

The snow itself certainly helps to promote the ski and snowboard industry, but Colorado has been fortunate to also receive national publicity as well.

The Denver Broncos/Oakland Raiders football game, while a direct kick to the crotch of loyal Bronco fans, has helped to increase interest in Colorado tourism because of the blizzard during the national televised game and several references to the eight resorts located within two hours of Denver.

"The Bronco game gave us national advertising that we couldn't possibly have afforded to purchase," Ladyga said. "We have a very optimistic tone for the season but it's important that we go into the holidays with excellent snow."

Sometimes tourists come to Colorado as ski fans but end up as residents because of their inability to pry themselves away from mountain resort towns. Bryan Callies, a sales representative at Mountain View Sports in Keystone, found himself following this path.

"I planned on being here for around a year," Callies said. "It's already been 12 years."

Apparently the life of chasing around ski bunnies, soaking in hot tubs and touring mountain microbreweries can be quite entrapping.

Callies works at a rental shop on the mountain and has seen a surge in customers from the recent storm.

"We had a pretty good Thanksgiving in the rental business" Callies said. "Lots of people from the South and Midwest are taking advantage of the snow."

The average snowpack for Colorado resorts is up 13 percent from the previous year, according to the National Weather Service, and many CSU students look forward to another winter of hitting the slopes.

"I'm excited about this season because I think there's gonna be lot's of powder," said Kristin D'Epagnier, a sophomore human development major and Snowriders member. "I just love the Colorado snow."

Some people believe that the quality of skiing and snowboarding in Colorado is even worthy of impacting their educational choices.

"I had two choices for where I was gonna come for college," said David Schnake, a junior forestry major and Snowriders officer. "CSU just offered such great 'boarding that I had to be here. People from the Midwest and down south are used to totally different riding. Once they get a taste of Colorado, they'll never be able to ride anywhere else."

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