Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Race is On!

It's a domino effect: First Copper Mountain, now Loveland Ski Area.

Snowmakers at Arapahoe Basin shouldn't be far behind.

Making snow at Summit County's ski areas has begun, leading the way among Colorado Ski Country USA member resorts. A fall storm that pushed into the mountains Thursday lent a hand with a few inches of snow to get things going — bringing with it the race to opening day.

Crews at Loveland were on a 24-hour standby before they fired up the guns at 2 p.m. Thursday. They start at Catwalk at the top of Chair 1 and work their way downhill to Mambo and Homerun to create a top-to-bottom trail that's more than a mile and nearly 1,000 vertical feet. When it's complete, they can announce Opening Day 2011.

“We had to wait out some warm nights,” said Eric Johnstone, Loveland's snowmaking and trail maintenance manager. “We thought we might be able to start last night, but the weather did not cooperate. Fortunately, the cold temperatures arrived today and we were able to fire up the snow guns this afternoon. The forecast is looking good, and we are ready to take advantage of the cold temperatures.”

On the other side of the Divide, at Arapahoe Basin, officials have intimated a high probability they'd begin making snow Thursday night. And at Copper, “production has begun, not a ton last night, but we're coating the ground in white,” spokesman David Roth reported from the snowmaking crews.

All the while, snow gracing the valley for the first time has snow enthusiasts itching for the real season to begin.

It typically takes about two weeks for Loveland's snowmaking team to cover the opening day run with an 18-inch base and tree-to-tree coverage for opening day, Loveland spokesman John Sellers wrote in an email. Loveland opened on Oct. 24 last season. Arapahoe Basin opened a day later.

“Firing up the snow guns in the middle of a blizzard is a great way to kick off the countdown to the season,” Sellers said. “The start of snowmaking means that opening day is just around the corner. Both employees and guests alike have been eagerly awaiting this day, and we are excited to get started. We are starting a little bit later than previous years, but we are still optimistic that cold temperatures will allow our crew to be very productive and keep us on track for our typical October opening.”

Stay posted on the Loveland crew's progress at