Several Colorado resorts opening this week

Skiers and boarders are all dressed up and eager to go as they grab the season’s first chair ride Friday at Breckenridge Ski Resort. The resort this year is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.”

– Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

Skiers and boarders will be walking on clouds with the news Colorado’s 2011-2012 ski season is hitting high gear.

Several resorts are opening this week, with at least one planning an early opening.

This year, too, both Breckenridge, which opened its season Friday, and Crested Butte are celebrating their 50th anniversaries.

Vail is set to open Friday, closely followed by Snowmass jumping ahead five days to get a Saturday opening.

Then the pre-Thanksgiving onslaught really begins, with Crested Butte and Steamboat set to start their lifts Nov. 23 and Telluride and Aspen Mountain cranking it up Nov. 24.

Vail will open to skiers and boarders at 9 a.m. Friday with access to the mountain from both Vail Village and Lionshead.

“We’re still eight days out from opening, and things could change between now and then,” said Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Vail Mountain.

“But we have made such great progress with snowmaking that we can say with confidence already that we will be able to open both the Vista Bahn out of Vail Village and the Lionshead lifts for access on opening day.”

The storm last weekend sweeping across Colorado dumped 19 inches on the Nordic trails on Grand Mesa and enough snow to cause Snowmass Mountain to reset its planned opening day, said Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations.

“The 2011-2012 season has started as a talented overachiever with near perfect snowmaking temperatures and abundant natural snowfall,” said Burkley.

He said Snowmass will have both the Village Express and Big Burn lifts running Saturday, serving more than 3,200 vertical feet, 7 trails and 160 acres of skiable terrain, including the popular Big Burn area.

The Sky Cab Gondola and the Ski School Magic Carpet will also be in operation.

Breckenridge first opened on Dec. 16, 1961, and that date this year falls during the Winter Dew Tour featuring freeski and snowboard competitions on the mountain and celebrations throughout town.

Crested Butte Ski Resort first opened in Nov. 1961, and as part of the resort’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration skiers and boarders can enjoy free skiing on opening day this year.

Other birthday party specials include discounts on lodging and a free ticket on your birthday if it falls within the ski season.

“We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate our 50th birthday than with free skiing for all resort guests on opening day,” said a Crested Butte spokesperson. “The ‘Ski Free on Your Birthday’ offer is the icing on the cake.”


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