After a couple quick tastes of skiing and snowboarding in the Midwest and Northeast, the 2012-13 ski and snowboard season finally kicked off for good in the Colorado Rockies Wednesday at Arapahoe Basin.
Amidst blowing snow and an energetic whooping and hollering crowd, A-Basin opened Wednesday with lift served skiing and snowboarding, making it the first ski resort in the United States and Colorado to officially open for the 2012/13 season.
"I've seen pictures, watched videos and read about Arapahoe Basin's legendary early openings for years,” said Halley O’Brien of Boulder, Co. “Tuesday night I charged my cameras, rummaged through my gear closet and packed my car knowing I was about to go snowboarding at A-Basin in the morning. First turns and a Facebook status that caused a couple hundred people to squirm with envy - not a bad start to the season!"
After a long summer, low temperatures and cool nights allowed crews at A-Basin to make snow - assisted by Mother Nature’s occasional dustings, including an inch of new snow for opening day - throughout the previous weeks. The cold temperatures and the traditionally competitive opening day race fueled enthusiasm among skiers and riders, and once again propelled Colorado to the forefront of skiing and snowboarding.
During the last 10 years, the traditional race to open has been a friendly, yet competitive affair. Last year’s surprise candidate, Wolf Creek, opened on October 8 after an early season storm piled up 44 inches. The excess snow almost precipitated Wolf Creek beating out Loveland’s record 2009 opening of October 7 for the earliest this century. Loveland still holds the earliest opening (Oct. 7, 2009), most victories (five and one tie), and deepest Opening Day base depth (24 inches in 2004), in the past decade.
Loveland expects to open soon as well. However, a power outage on Wednesday halted their snowmaking operation for some time as crews worked to cover the lower potion of the Home Run trail.
Meanwhile, Vermont’s Killington Resort provided its season pass holders a taste of winter last weekend, opening one lift and trail at the top of the mountain. Last week Wild Mountain in Minnesota opened for a few days of snow play. In Maine, Sunday River has begun to make snow last weekend in anticipation of an early opening. Last year, both Killington and Sunday River opened for the season in late October.
Top: Arapahoe Basin kicks off the season. / Colorado Ski County USA Photo