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Loveland will open Friday

JANE STEBBINS
Summit Daily/Reid WilliamsMike Duckworth and the rest of the Silverthorne-North Carolina posse took advantage of Wednesday's fresh snow with a jib session on the east side of Loveland Pass, warming up with a few spins before hitting the thigh-deep pastures above.
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SUMMIT COUNTY – Loveland Ski Area, you are the champion.The ski area will open its slopes for the season on Friday after a storm dropped a foot of snow on the mountain. Loveland continues to be the annual winner of the friendly battle between ski resorts trying to open first. “Wow,” was all Kevin Wright of Loveland Ski Area had to say about Wednesday’s snowfall. “It was a bit of a surprise to come up to the ski area this morning.”Arapahoe Basin and Loveland ski areas compete each year to see which mountain will be the first to open for the ski season. Loveland ski patrollers reported 12 inches of snow at the base – and 18 inches at the top.”We’re very psyched,” Wright said. “The anticipation mounts as we get closer to opening day. There’s a buzz in the air that’s been sugar coated with 12 inches of snow.”A-Basin, which received 6 inches of snow overnight, is expected to open sometime next week, according to Rob Perlman with Ski Country USA. Snowmaking operations began anew there at 2 p.m. Wednesday, said Leigh Hierholzer, director of marketing for A-Basin.”We’re excited; we’re ready,” she said. “We always wish we could beat Loveland, but they’ve been blowing a lot of snow over there.”Breckenridge Ski Resort received about 7 inches of snow overnight.

“This time last year, it was pretty sunny and warm,” said Rick Sramek, vice president of mountain operations at Breckenridge. Sramek said he even saw a group of kids hiking up the mountain Wednesday morning hoping to find enough snow on which to ski.”It’s nice to see that enthusiasm, that people are already excited for it,” Sramek said. “And the Southern hemisphere had a really good winter, real heavy late snows; we’re hopeful there’s some correlation. It’s really encouraging.”Keystone officials plan to begin snowmaking Oct. 18 and hope to open Nov. 12.”The key word here is cold,” said Lisha Burnett. “It needs to be cold for effective snowmaking. But I think with the snow coming, everyone’s getting very excited.”Copper is planning on opening Nov. 5 and began making snow on Sept. 22, but not daily.”They’ll only blow snow when the conditions are pristine,” said Katelin Hill, spokeswoman for Copper Mountain. “It wasn’t official, but I’d say we got right around 5 or 6 inches (Wednesday).””It’s not unusual,” said Rick Bly, who measures precipitation for the National Weather Service. “And it’s good to see.”He reported 7.5 inches of snow and .57 inches of precipitation – 15 percent more precipitation than was recorded during the entire month of October last year – at his Breckenridge home.

Other areas throughout the county reported four to five inches of snow.”It always varies,” Bly said. “It depends on the way the wind carries the moisture; whenever the wind slows down, it drops more.”Another storm is expected to roll in in the next few days from the northwest, Bly said.”This is a good one,” he said. “It’s no record or anything, just a nice snow. It makes everyone a little energized.”Weather forecasters are calling for scattered clouds throughout the rest of the week, with highs in the mid-50s and lows in the high-20s and low-30s.Vail is planning on opening Nov. 19.The downside to the snow

The snow on Wednesday also sent at least a dozen cars into the ditches.Colorado State Patrol officers were busy most of the day helping clear vehicles along Interstate 70, where up to six inches of snow fell at both the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass.Colorado State Patrol responded to eight crashes along a slushy, icy Interstate 70 between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m., said Trooper Wallace Lathrop. Commercial truckers were required to chain up to go over the Continental Divide for about a half hour in the early morning hours.”It definitely kept us busy,” he said. “We got lucky after that. The sun peeked out and started drying roads out a little bit.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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