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Running the Good Race

The race to be the first Colorado ski resort to open is intense these days, especially as Colorado Ski Country is experiencing colder temperatures, early season snow fall, and conditions conducive for snowmaking. The race to open can be likened to a beauty pageant where snowmaking is the Botox used to enhance what Mother Nature provides.IMGP2340

Colorado Ski Country resorts are taking advantage of the cold temperatures and ideal humidity conditions to make snow. Copper is the latest resort to fire up the snowmaking machinery and start building a base. Copper_1st day of Snowmaking_10-1-09bArapahoe Basin began snowmaking operations on the night of September 22nd and Loveland got things started on the eve of fall, September 21st.

The race (as it is often referred to) is a long-standing tradition for Colorado Ski Country USA members. Any resort can join the race, however the qualifications for winning are that once the resort opens, they must remain open for the season. And while some resorts will have eager enthusiasts hiking and making turns, unless the resort is officially open for the season, it doesn’t count.

Therefore, the race to open has long been focused on two resorts, let’s meet the candidates. Perched on the north side of the Continental Divide with a base elevation of 10,600 feet, topping off its peak at 13,010 feet, boasting 2,410 feet of vertical rise, 10 lifts, 92 trails, one terrain park and 160 snowmaking acres is.Loveland Ski Area.IMGP2336

And perched on the south side of the Continental Divide with a base elevation of 10,780 feet, a peak elevation of 13,050 feet, a lofty vertical rise of 2,270 feet, served by 7 lifts, 105 trails, 2 terrain parks and 125 snowmaking acres is.Arapahoe Basin.9-23-09-snowmaking3

For many years, the bragging rights have been claimed by either Arapahoe Basin or Loveland Ski Area. These two CSCUSA Gems resorts sit on opposite sides of the Continental Divide, and are generally the front runners in the race to open, due in part to their high elevations, which bring colder temperatures and earlier frosts.

Loveland won the opening day challenge for six consecutive seasons, from 1999 to 2005, Arapahoe Basin took the following two seasons, 2006 and 2007, and last year was dead even as these two resorts both opened on the same day, October 15th. This was the first time Colorado had two resorts open on the same day for the season.

We wish both resorts the best of luck because really, skiers and riders end up being the real winners. Here’s to a good, clean, and snowy race!

For more information on Colorado Ski Country USA resorts, scheduled opening dates, and pass programs, please visit