Arapahoe Basin Ski Area closes out Colorado ski season this weekend |

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area closes out Colorado ski season this weekend

Matt Wheeler, left, and Mac Little of Denver pose for a photo at the base of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Saturday. Wheeler called A-Basin his "spot" as he grabbed a few runs on the mountain. A-Basin closes out its season today.
Eli Pace / |

A pond-skimming Sunday?

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area closes out its 2016-17 ski season today, and marketing and communications manager Adrienne Saia Isaac said she expects to see a fair amount of pond-skimming on the final day.

Pond-skimming is a spring-skiing activity in which skiers build up speed before hitting a small pond and trying to stay upright as they go sailing across it. Many don’t make it, but it’s a great show, nonetheless.

Isaac said the main run at A-Basin from Lenawee Face to Dercum’s Gluch is where people can find the pond-skimming.

“It’s kind of a beacon for most people, whether the pond’s out or not,” she said, explaining that it was starting to make an appearance Saturday and she expected it to be in full use today. “It took a little bit longer to melt out, but it’s finally here for closing day. ”

The die-hards came out in force this weekend at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, as they celebrated the end of Colorado’s downhill ski season with a couple more runs, made possible by the last lifts still operating in the state.

Many Colorado ski resorts closed in April. A few mountains hung on through May. Then there’s A-Basin, which finishes out its 70th anniversary season this afternoon, when its lifts go silent until likely sometime come mid-October next year.

And what a fantastic year it’s been, said A-Basin marketing and communications manager Adrienne Saia Isaac, adding that with A-Basin’s high altitude and more than 370 inches of snow total — about 20 inches above average — they were able to hang on longer than any other mountain in the state.

“It’s kind of what we’re known for,” she said of A-Basin, adding that its closing is “a cool time of year” in which so many people come out in costumes with big smiles on their faces.

“That’s one of the best things about it, right?” Isaac asked before talking about why she likes it so much. “I love the vibe at A-Basin. It’s super laid back, it’s always super fun, our guests are here to ski, ride and play in the mountains — that’s what we love.”

Jim Margolis of Dillon loves it too, and he has been hitting A-Basin’s slopes since 1979. With an Epic Pass in hand, Margolis said he likes to get on Keystone’s slopes early in the season because “they have good snowmaking.”

Once the snow gets good, he often goes to Vail and Beaver Creek. Then in the spring, he enjoys getting some runs in at Breckenridge before finishing up at A-Basin in late April, May and June.

For Margolis, A-Basin is the mountain that makes him feel most at home.

“I like the high elevation and they stay open into June,” he said, adding that there’s a good variety of terrain, he has a lot of friends up here, and it doesn’t feel nearly as crowded as some of the other Colorado ski resorts.

Once A-Basin’s lifts stop running, Margolis said, “It’s hiking and mountain climbing season” for him.

Not quite the skier and rider that Margolis is, Dave Nichols admitted he’s still working on achieving full die-hard status, but he undeniably dressed the part Saturday.

Looking for something for his “kiddo” one day at Target, Nichols passed by a patriotic “onesie,” made out of fabric modeled after the American flag. It was too good to pass up, and he wore it Saturday with pride.

“I was like, ‘That is some spring skiing right there,’” Nichols said of his purchase before explaining why taking runs late in the season is so appealing.

“This is a fun time of year, where you have the mix of people in the parking lot with bikes on top of their car, but they’re up here catching a few runs before they go ride,” he said. “For me, this is what I can do in the in-between, because in April and May, you can’t really go camping. It’s just too muddy, so now you got a little window with something to do until everything dries out and you can get back into the mountains and not get too dirty.”

Nichols planed to ski one more day, before he too shifts into more summerlike activities.

Two of the more-recognizable costume-clad skiers Saturday had to be Matt Wheeler and Mac Little. They both carry season passes to A-Basin and Keystone, and They came Saturday dressed up in full-body suits as the Cookie Monster and Elmo, complete with oversized heads and all.

“We’re good at this,” Wheeler said after he had just come off one the runs. “This is our thing.”

The pair’s last day was Saturday, as they said they likely won’t be back today because they “go so hard.” Still, they loved what this year had to offer.

“I feel like this season was so on par, because we were so scared in October and November, right? Everyone was so scared,” Wheeler said. “Then (the snow) just hit hard, and we had a great core season. I think the fever that went on at A-Basin is perfect.”

And he plans to come back again next year just as hard.

“This is my spot, dude,” Wheeler said. “I’m never going anywhere else. I mean I go other places, but this is ‘The Spot.’ You can’t beat A-Basin.”

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