Duel continues: Who will open first?
SUMMIT COUNTY – Out on the far east side of Summit County, along the border of Clear Creek County, Arapahoe Basin and Loveland are facing off.
Neither resort is willing to divulge exactly when it will open, but both are ambiguously keeping everyone’s hopes up by saying “sometime next week.”
In the left corner stands Loveland, a frequent winner in the “first-to-open” contest. At the end of last season, Loveland scheduled opening day for the 2003-04 ski season Oct. 16, which came and went last week.
Meanwhile, in the other corner, the new snowmakers at Arapahoe Basin were hoping to open today. But, as Summit and Clear Creek counties continue to enjoy 60-degree bluebird days and evenings that dip only into the lower 40s, the faceoff – and the wait – continue.
“I’m on 24-hour notice myself here in the marketing department,” said Ainsley Kasten, Loveland’s marketing manager.
Kasten was unable to provide a specific opening date, but she did say it would only take a few more nights of cold weather.
Over three-fourths of the top-to-bottom route under Chair 1 is covered, she said. The eventual ribbon of snow will cover parts of the Catwalk, Mambo and Home Run trails and will drop 1,000 vertical feet.
At the Basin, things are just a bit more vague. One report coming from the mountain promised it would open before, on or after Oct. 31.
“We’re watching Loveland, and we have the same conditions. So, I think we’re running neck and neck,” said Leigh Heirholzer at Arapahoe Basin. “Since we can’t predict the weather, we can’t predict an opening date.”
Because of a brand-new snowmaking system installed last season, A-Basin is making its first attempt at being the first to open.
“Everyone here is real excited,” Heirholzer said. “It’s nice to see that we’re in the running after so many years (spent) wanting the system.”
The Basin is aiming to open the High Noon run from the top of the Exhibition lift to its bottom. Like Loveland, this will give skiers almost 1,000 vertical feet of elevation to ski.
According to Heirholzer, snow has covered more than half of High Noon, and the run will need three or four nights of subfreezing temperatures to be completely covered.
The cold nights both resorts need could come as soon as Saturday, as a cold front is expected to roll over the mountains in the early morning, keeping daytime temperatures below 40 and lows at night dipping into the teens.
Loveland was the first to open last year, winning an annual competition usually fought with Keystone to be the first resort in the country to open. Keystone opted out last year.
According to Keystone communications manager Mike Lee, the resort opted to sit out the competition this year to concentrate on finishing upgrades to its snowmaking system.
In 2001, Copper Mountain beat everyone to the punch, opening an upper mountain run known as Copperopolis in mid-October.
In fact, according to Beth Jahnigen, a spokesperson for Copper Mountain, Copperopolis will be skiable this weekend, but due to early season race training, the mountain has no plans to open to the public until Nov. 1.
Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at
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