Bluebird sky greets opening day crowd at Loveland Ski Area
Ryan Summerlin October 23, 2012
Loveland Ski Area kicked off its 75th season Tuesday morning with a modest, but sizable crowd for opening day.
Ski area officials opened one top-to-bottom run, which included the Catwalk, Mambo and Homerun trails, a combined total of approximately 1,000 vertical feet with an 18-inch base.
The crowd, rowdied by the free doughnuts and Red Bull, counted down to the first chairlift that departed at 9.
Camping out since 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, Dave “Snow Buddha” Stowell from Greeley made the highly sought-after first chair at Loveland’s opening day.
“This is something that I really wanted to check off my bucket list,” Stowell said. “It’s really exciting to see people gathering around as it gets closer, I wouldn’t have wanted to start my season any other way.”
Others too, gathered in the ski area’s parking lot late Monday and very early in the morning Tuesday to stake the first chair claim.
“When I came to work at 6 a.m. (Tuesday) there were already crowds in line for the first chair,” said John Sellers, marketing director for the hill. “That’s really exciting for me to see – there were so many smiling faces, there’s no question that people are really itching to get this season started.”
The park crew set up five terrain features for the season’s kickoff, including a mini wall ride, lift tower rail, single barrel shotgun and two flat boxes.
A general consensus among skiers, riders and ski area employees was the variety on the single run available and the good quality of the snow, though man-made on opening day.
“It’s nice to get back on some snow after a long summer, even if it isn’t real,” said Carrie Heintz, Frisco resident.
The man-made base of 18 inches greeted the crowd and lift lines remained short through the last chair departing at 4 p.m.
“Loveland’s opening day is my favorite out of the other resort’s openers because of the relaxed crowds, short lift lines and the wide run,” said Samuel Hirsch, a Lakewood resident up to ski. “I’ve been coming to opening day here for the last five years and it’s great not to deal with huge crowds.”
The ski area’s skiers and riders traveled primarily from the Front Range and Summit County to experience sunny, but windy weather.
Though the crowds were light in their numbers, Sellers said the ski area typically experiences, and promotes the more easygoing opening day atmosphere.
“We’re right in line with where we were last year,” Sellers added. “We always shoot for a mid-October opening. Once people see the pictures of everyone having fun up here it really spreads among friends and families who are eager to get on the slopes this winter.”
Last season, Loveland opened Oct. 14 and saw a slight jump in numbers.
“We’re happy with the turnout especially opening on a Tuesday,” Sellers said. “We probably had a little more skier traffic last season’s opening day but it was not much busier than it is this year.”
The only other ski area currently open in the state is nearby Arapahoe Basin, which opened Oct. 17 with an 18-inch base as well, one intermediate trail and one lift operating. The ski area was the first in Colorado to open this winter.
Copper Mountain and Keystone Resort are slated to open Nov. 2 while Breckenridge has set its season opener for Nov. 9. Other Colorado ski areas have set opening days throughout November and December.