A-Basin, Loveland race for first tracks | SummitDaily.com

A-Basin, Loveland race for first tracks

Special to the Daily A skier gets his tracks much earlier in the season, as he catches air last Saturday.

ARAPAHOE BASIN – Jen Brill chuckles at Summit County’s friendly competition each fall between ski areas who race to open first for the season. It is a mighty snowmaking battle.Brill, who owns Silverton Mountain in southwest Colorado, has been skiing on natural snow under her lift since Labor Day weekend.”Competition is healthy,” she said. “We are lucky that our mountain is at such a high elevation.”Although the lift at Silverton served skiers last week, the competition for season-opening bragging rights will rage between local areas.

Silverton’s lift was closed Wednesday for maintenance. Brill said the area will open for the season around Thanksgiving.Arapahoe Basin laid down the gauntlet Wednesday and challenged Loveland to another battle-to-be-first for the 2004-2005 season. With its new $1.2 million snowmaking system, it is the area’s second consecutive season joining the race.”We’re going to try to beat them this time,” said A-Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer.Last year Loveland opened first on Oct. 28. A-Basin was on its heels two days later.Ainsley Kasten, spokeswoman for Loveland Ski Area, seemed nonchalant about the competition.

“Is there a race this year?” she asked.Loveland opened first the last four years running. Kasten said the aim to open in mid-October is “business as usual.” The area was the first to make snow in the state in 1967.Both women acknowledged that Mother Nature plays a big role in the competition. Snowmaking will begin this month if nighttime temperatures are cool enough.The cold temperatures ventured south last week, when Tropical Storm Howard created moisture in the San Juan Mountains and allowed 1,000 vertical feet of skiing off the area’s single lift at 12,400 feet. Hiking provided an additional 1,000 vertical feet.

It was the third consecutive year of September skiing.Snow is available for early-season steep skiing at Silverton but business is not, Brill said. The area requires guests to ski with a guide at a cost of $100 per day.”People wait to get into shape. Who wants to ski 1,000 vertical feet when your legs aren’t yet in shape?” Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at kmarquis@summitdaily.com.

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