November cooperated and Breckenridge Ski resort responded: After two weeks of delays, Breck officials confirmed Saturday, Nov. 19, as opening day for the 2016-17 ski season at the resort.
The announcement comes less than a week after Keystone Resort confirmed Friday, Nov. 17, as opening day, and it comes two weeks after both resorts were forced to delay opening due to warm temperatures and poor snowmaking conditions. Keystone was originally scheduled to open on Nov. 4, while Breck was slated to open on Nov. 11, but it snowed just three times in Summit County through all of October and the final 10 days of the month saw highs in the 50s.
“We’re thrilled to open for skiing and riding this Friday,” said Mike Goar, vice president and chief operating officer for Keystone Resort, in a release on Nov. 15. “I’m incredibly proud of everything the resort teams have been able to accomplish to prepare the two mountains for our guests. We’re all ready to welcome winter.”
Loveland Ski Area also battled poor conditions and delayed opening until Nov. 10, leaving Arapahoe Basin Ski Area as the only Colorado ski resort with lift-accessed skiing for nearly three weeks. A-Basin opened on Oct. 21 with one run and has yet to open new terrain.
At Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek — two properties in nearby Eagle County also owned by Broomfield-based Vail Resorts — officials confirmed opening days for Thanksgiving week. Lifts at Beaver Creek start spinning on Wednesday, Nov. 23, (the resort’s original opening day) and lifts at Vail fire up on Friday, Nov. 25, a week later than expected.
Beaver Creek is the only VR property in Colorado expected to open on its original schedule.
“Both Breckenridge and Keystone will continue to make snow at every opportunity as weather allows in order to provide guests the best on-snow experience possible,” said John Buhler, vice president and chief operating officer for Breckenridge, in the release. “We can’t wait to greet our guests at both mountains this week and carve those first turns of the season.”
The announcements come on the heels of good news — finally — from meteorologists, including Open Snow, a Colorado forecasting website that specializes in powder forecasts and resort towns.
“On Thursday morning and into early Thursday afternoon, we will likely see the strongest cold front of the season,” meteorologist Sam Collentine wrote in a Nov. 15 post. “Overall, expect a full return to winter on Thursday and Friday.”
After wintery conditions on Thursday and Friday, Collentine expects the weekend to be dry, with little or no snow. The next system should roll through the Interstate 70 corridor over Thanksgiving week, he wrote, followed by more storms through early December.
“We’re looking forward to a shift in the weather pattern this week to assist with resort snowmaking efforts, and to another great winter season ahead,” said Chris Jarnot, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Vail Mountain, in the release. “We saw a very similar start to the 2007-2008 season and the resort went on to receive more than 100 inches of snow by Dec. 12, contributing to a well-above-average snow year.”
WELCOME BACK, KEYSTONE
At Keystone, lifts begin turning at 9 a.m. on Nov. 18. Skiers and snowboarders will have access to the River Run Gondola and Montezuma Express Lift for terrain on Schoolmarm and Silver Spoon, with skiing and riding access from the top of Dercum Mountain to the bottom of the Montezuma Express Lift. When done skiing and riding for the day, guests will download to the base area on the River Run Gondola.
While waiting in line, guests will be treated to plenty of freebies at the base of the gondola: donut holes from Keystone executive pastry chef Ned Archibald, hot chocolate and coffee, plus a limited number of reusable water bottles and Starbucks gift cards. The resort will also raffle off several prizes, including GoPro Hero4 cameras and Smartwool socks.
For more information on opening day, see KeystoneResort.com.
Lifts start spinning at 9 a.m. for Breck’s opening day, with access on the Colorado SuperChair for limited skiing and snowboarding on Peak 8. Ski Hill Grill will provide complimentary French toast sticks (while supplies last) and DJ DC will be spinning music at the base of Colorado SuperChair. Guests can park for free on both Saturday and Sunday in the North and South Gondola lots for hill access via the free BreckConnect Gondola.
For more information on Breck’s opening day festivities and terrain, see Breckenridge.com.