La Nina, snow create excitement at ski resorts

Skiers and riders on the American Eagle lift at Copper Mountain enjoy the snowy route to the top as the latest winter storm dumps 9 inches of new snow on the resort. Several resorts reported double-digit snowfalls from the last storm, which brings more of the resorts closer to opening day.

Whether they move uphill, downhill or flat track across the landscape, skiers are welcoming the current swing of winter storms through Colorado.

“Yeah, we’re pretty excited with all this snow,” said Craig Bannister of Colorado Ski Country USA, a ski-industry trade group representing 22 Colorado ski resorts.

The year’s outlook is boosted by the forecast of La Ni&#241a conditions in the central Pacific Ocean. Typically, La Ni&#241a snow years bring more snow to the northern and central ski areas.

“We were just on a tour of New Mexico resorts and they were all saying how awesome conditions were last year” when El Ni&#241o conditions prevailed with its southern-tier storms, Bannister said.

“Now, they’re all saying they can’t wait to ski Colorado this year,” he said.

In anticipation of more new snow on top of the current amounts, meteorologist and blogger Joel Gratz is calling this month “Snovember.” Gratz’s entertaining and informative website is

“Yeah, that’s cheezy,” he wrote on his site about the name ‘Snovember.’ “But we should have a name for this month’s awesomeness, because after a week of warm weather to start the month, the last seven days were quite snowy, and following a break later this week, snow will return for Thanksgiving.”

Wolf Creek and Copper Mountain this weekend joined already open Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in the march toward holiday skiing.

Wolf Creek, Colorado’s southern-most ski resort and perennially one of the state’s leading snow magnets, again is demonstrating that even La Ni&#241a can’t beat a great location.

The resort straddling the highway pass of the same name picked up 22 inches of new snow just prior to opening.

Copper had 9 inches of new powder for its first day of the season and Keystone is reporting 18 inches over the last week.

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Keystone is offering $40 lift tickets Saturday. Information and anniversary ticket coupons are at

Many ski areas will be open in time for Thanksgiving, a holiday that has become more and more a key part of the bottom line for Colorado resorts.

Snowmaking and cold temperatures certainly add to the opening day festivities, but nothing says “it’s ski season” like new snow.

“We’re really seeing the excitement ramp up as opening days approach and we keep getting snow,” Bannister said.

Winter Park opens today while Vail and Eldora start their lifts Friday.

The list of ski resorts set to open by Thanksgiving include Crested Butte, Monarch and Steamboat on Nov. 24, and Aspen Mountain, Snowmass and Purgatory on Nov. 25.

Powderhorn Resort is holding to its announced Dec. 16 opening.

Aspen Mountain’s opening weekend, Nov. 27–28, will feature again this year the Aspen Winternational Audi FIS Alpine World Cup, when the fastest women skiers in the world compete in giant slalom and slalom races.

“It’s really crazy with the mountain open and the races going on, but it’s so much fun to have the ladies here on opening weekend,” said Aspen Ski Co. spokesperson Meredith McKee. “We take over the whole Lift 1 side of the mountain.”

Races begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days, with the GS set for Nov. 27 and the slalom for Nov. 28.

Spectators can watch the action from the grandstands at the base of Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain.

Information can be found at


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