The icy blizzard that dumped snow across the Rocky Mountains this week kicked off an opening-day race for Colorado’s ski resorts.
The state’s Arapahoe Basin Ski Area opened for the season as of 3:30 p.m. local time Friday. It beat out the Keystone Resort, which said earlier that it was scheduled to welcome snow bunnies on Saturday. It’s the earliest opening for A-Basin, as the locals call it, in a decade, and the quickest for Keystone since 1995. Both resorts are along the famed I-70 corridor that also includes Vail and Breckenridge.
The storm was a “big help” in bringing the advanced opening as were the colder temperatures that allowed for some “incredible” snow making, Katherine Fuller, communications manager for Arapahoe Basin, said by phone.
A-Basin looks to have captured the title of first slopes to open this season in North America.
“The race to be the first to open in Colorado and the country is always a treat,” Alan Henceroth, chief operating officer, wrote on the resort’s blog.
Colorado is enjoying an extended ski season in 2019. A-Basin was open for skiing during Independence Day for the first time since 2011 after late spring storms. Friday’s kick off meant the resort was closed for just 99 days, its shortest off-season on record, Fuller said.
Vail Resorts Inc., which operates Keystone, will keep monitoring weather conditions to see if there are opportunities to open other ski areas early as well, Loryn Roberson, a communications manager, said by email. The company operates 37 ski areas, including in Colorado; the Lake Tahoe, California, area; and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada.
(Updates with Arapahoe Basin opening in second paragraph.)
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