Competition to be first to open for the season in full swing as Summit County ski area joins Loveland in making snow |

Competition to be first to open for the season in full swing as Summit County ski area joins Loveland in making snow

Special to the DailyLast season's Oct. 22 opening was the earliest in history. A-Basin management plans on opening the slopes sometime in late October depending on man-made and natural snowfalls.

ARAPAHOE BASIN ” The race to be the first ski area in Colorado to open for the winter season intensified Monday as Arapahoe Basin blew its first layer of man-made snow.

Eleven snow guns began shooting snow from mid-mountain to the base area early Monday morning, propelling A-Basin into its fourth year of snowmaking operations.

The ski area has been ready to fire up its guns for the last few weeks, but has been waiting on colder temperatures.

Crews turned on the guns at about midnight and switched off the last gun at around 8 a.m., Monday, said resort spokesperson Leigh Heirholzer. The frequency of continued snowmaking is weather-dependent, Heirholzer said.

Loveland Ski Area began its snowmaking operations on Friday, putting it one step ahead in the friendly battle between the two ski areas to open first.

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But, A-Basin isn’t out of the competition by any means.

“We’re always trying to (be the first to open),” Heirholzer said. “We’d like to see it here one of these years, so we’re going to try.”

A-Basin’s snowmaking system is designed to cover 125 acres from the top of Lenawee Face to the base area. Additional guns have been added to the fleet this season, increasing the efficiency of the process and allowing 11 runs, served by five lifts, to benefit from snowmaking.

“The snowmaking system has aided the ski area and guests by giving the ski area a more predictable opening date; it helped weather-proof the business and has been a great tool for hiring and recruiting employees by giving seasonal workers a better idea of when they will start their positions,” said Alan Henceroth, general manager of Arapahoe Basin.

Loveland has been the first U.S. ski resort to open its slopes for the past five years.

At Friday’s ski area COO luncheon, Henceroth said A-Basin’s target opening day was Oct. 21, one day earlier than last year, which was the resort’s earliest opening date.

Loveland has not announced an opening day.

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