There is an unexplainable feeling that comes from the first ski session of the year, even if the first day consists of riding the mountain’s one open run on fake snow.
Driving westward on I-70, lacing up or clicking into boots and feeling a rush of cold air seep into the crevices of goggles on the lift never feels quite like it does on the first day on the slopes. Though the majority of Colorado’s ski resorts do not open for another month, early season riders have two mountain options to choose between to ease the anxiety of ski-season anticipation.
As per the usual season routine, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin are the first resorts to open for 2009-2010 season. While both mountain resorts provide a refuge for those who have been anxiously awaiting the return to the slopes, the condition of the snow makes the decision over whether to run to the hills questionable. Sophomore Kevin Breen voiced his hesitation about heading to the mountains.
“I really want to go to the mountains but I can’t decide if the trip will be worth it since it’s so early in the season,” said Breen, a 19-year-old business and economics major.
Loveland Ski Resort, located near Georgetown and the eastern side of the entrance to the Eisenhower Tunnel, currently has one lift open servicing three runs. While the resort is not completely barren of snow, it has not received snowfall over 3 inches, meaning the runs that are open consist mainly of machine-made snow and packed powder.
A-Basin Ski Resort, located about 10 miles outside of Silverthorne, shares similar conditions with one lift open servicing two open trails. And while A-Basin is famous for having one of the longest ski seasons in the country, the slow start to the season has not made for ideal riding conditions. Sophomore Laura Feasler has not been impressed with the start of the season.
“The temperature shifting between hot and cold, hot and cold, did not make for very good snow at A-Bay,” said Feasler, a 19-year-old integrated physiology major.
The abundance of machine-made “snow” is not the only aspect of early season riding that makes Feasler apprehensive about heading to the hills this early in the year.
“Since there’s only one lift open, there are super huge lift lines unless you get to the mountain early, like before 10,” Feasler said.
Sophomore Alexa Cataldo did not have a much better experience riding A-Basin.
“I went up with my boyfriend but we only did a few runs. The snow wasn’t good enough for us to stick around for too long,” said Cataldo, a 20-year-old psychology major.
Extensive lines for single runs made of fake powder may be prove to be more appealing to season pass holders like Feasler, whose winter riding trips have already been paid for in full, than to single day ticket buyers. While both resorts are currently selling discounted early season single-day lift tickets, a day ticket for a non-pass holder still proves to be a little pricey.
A single day adult lift ticket at Loveland currently costs 46 dollars and cost 49 dollars at A-Basin. These early season prices save buyers around 10 dollars to 15 dollars from regular season prices, which usually take effect in early to mid-December.
Despite the slight economic appeal of early season riding, it is advisable to skip out on chances to save a few dollars riding the slopes. Instead, skiers and riders should save their lift ticket and gas money for trips later in the season.
From one skier and boarder to another, the time, travel, and money spent on early season riding does not compare to that of regular season. The thrill of riding down a snow-covered mountain never dissipates, but an abundance of machine-made snow simply does not compare to the waist deep powder runs and pillows of authentic snow that come later in the season.
Fortunately for skiers and riders alike, the Colorado winter and the snow it delivers gets closer everyday. For those counting down the days until the opening of their favorite resorts and the more fulfilling skiing and snowboarding, here is a quick run-down of the opening days to come:
Vail ski resort opens November 20.
Winter Park resort opens November 18.
Breckenridge resort opens on November 11.
Keystone resort opens on November 6.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jamie Magyar at Jamie.magyar@Colorado.edu.