Loveland celebrates its 75th anniversary Saturday, but don't expect fireworks, champagne toasts or grandiosity. This small, family-owned and operated ski area has planned a day of festivities reflective of its unique character, including $37 lift tickets, custom skis and even its own brew.
"We focus on the ski and snowboarding experience," said John Sellers, Loveland's marketing director. "That's our one and only business."
Situated on the east side of the Continental Divide just off Interstate 70, Loveland is one of Colorado's few ski areas that hasn't been consumed by development.
Much has changed since the ski area opened in 1937: lifts have replaced rope tows; the Eisenhower Tunnel was built; skiers share the mountain with snowboarders; and wood skis are a thing of the past.
Still, Loveland remains small, local and affordable - which is exactly why its customers return, time and time again. "It's hard to describe why people fall in love with this place," Sellers said. "It's welcoming. It's not exclusive. It's a place where people can come up and have a great day of skiing or snowboarding. They don't need all the bells and whistles."
While many mountains charge around $100 for day tickets, Loveland's tickets are only $61. But this weekend, those prices drop to $37 to commemorate the 1937 opening and lesson packages for adults and children 6 and older are only $75.
On Saturday, guests can warm up with free coffee and hot chocolate before they hit the lifts. Loveland will host a free barbecue for season-pass holders and serve free birthday cake to all guests. The Red Bull photo booth will offer free "historic" photos, where visitors can pose on an old rope tow.
The celebration will culminate with an apres ski party and giveaway featuring Tommyknocker's Pine Bough Pale Ale and Icelantic skis, both custom-made for Loveland's 75th anniversary.
"I, personally, went up (to the ski area) and hand-picked blue spruce tips and symbolically threw some snow into the kettle," said Steve Indrehus, director of brewery operations.
Currently only served at Loveland and the Idaho Springs brewery, the Pine Bough Pale Ale has been surprisingly successful.
"The hops complements the pine notes," he said. "It's not so demanding in flavor that you can only drink it in small amounts."
Meanwhile, Icelantic Skis collaborated with Loveland to design a custom ski for the anniversary - one pair of which will be given away to a lucky winner Saturday.
What was originally envisioned as a classic wood ski with the Loveland logo on it evolved into an "old school, new school" all-mountain ski, said artist Travis Parr. The logo "came to life" when Parr carved and painted a wooden sculpture he then photographed for the ski. The combination of the wood planks, logo and a trail map overlay make the skis at once simple, classic, modern and cool.
For the folks at Tommyknocker and Icelantic, Loveland is the local mountain. Creating the anniversary brew and skis was a way to celebrate all it means to them.
"It's home," Parr said. "It's just awesome."
For more information or to register for the Icelantic ski giveaway, go to www.skiloveland.com.