Skiers in snowy hog heaven this New Year’s

Nothing says Happy New Year to a skier like new snow.

Thanks to the latest and probably last hard-charging storm of 2010, Colorado ski resorts are going into the New Year’s weekend with a face full of smiles and fresh snow.

“It’s really fabulous, it’s like a winter wonderland,” said Loryn Kasten of Steamboat Ski Resort, where more than a foot of new snow has fallen since Thursday morning. “This has been one of the best winter beginnings that I can remember.”

That’s easy to say when you can boast of more than 180 inches of snow already registered this winter, but other resorts are singing the same happy tune.

“We went from zero to 60 in a very short time, but we’re loving every minute of it,” said Sarah Allen, spokeswoman for Powderhorn Ski Resort.

The resort on the north slope of Grand Mesa opened only a week ago, but this storm and its thick blanket of new snow (13 inches in 24 hours) means the resort will be fully open in time for the New Year.

“We had 95 percent of the mountain open and this storm should let us open the last remaining bit,” Allen said. “Everybody’s grinning from ear-to-ear, this (new snow) is a holiday in itself.”

The Christmas and New Year holidays are among the busiest periods for ski resorts and while the holidays themselves are festive, the overall attitudes kick up a notch or two when snow falls.

“This has really turned things around,” said Tom Watkinson of Telluride Ski Resort, where 5 inches of snow fell Thursday morning on top of the 9 recorded Wednesday. “We took some of our Ski and Golf Club members on a First Light morning run at 8 a.m. and people are really psyched.”

Steamboat’s Kasten said “there is something quintessential” about the holidays and new snow.

“That’s why the guests come here and it’s great we can have new snow for them,” she said.

And it’s not just the visitors. Sometimes even longtime resort town residents have difficulty making it to work when so much new snow beckons.

“Oh, yeah, we had a powder day today,” said Drew Canale at the Teocalli Tamale restaurant in Crested Butte. “They reported 13 inches this morning and anytime there’s more than 6 inches of new, it’s a powder day at Teo.”

Canale said the employees come in early, work until 8:30 a.m. and then catch the town’s free shuttle to the ski area.

“We get there just as the lifts open and ski until 11:30, so we get a full two hours of skiing,” he said. “We just open an hour later, but everyone’s cool about that.”

The best thing about getting those early runs?

“When people come in and start talking about the skiing, you can say, “Yeah, man, I had some great runs today, too,” he laughed. “It really helps the attitude when you’re waiting on customers.”

And Crested Butte isn’t alone when it comes to taking advantage of snowy opportunities.

“I know a couple of people who used their ‘powder clause’ today,” said Steamboat’s Kasten, with a laugh. “You might have a hard time getting breakfast on time today.”


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