7:15 A.M.: Rob Goodell, Director of Business Operations for Loveland, was out bright and early with coffee for members of the media. Said an excited Goodell, “The snowmaking and trail crews did a phenomenal job getting the mountain open this year.”
Nate Dogg, the Breckenridge man who has held the bragging rights for first chairlift of the season in Colorado for the last 13 years, stays warm in his car while waiting for the lifts to open. He stole the title from Elmer Mulkins, a man in his 70’s who held the record for 26 consecutive years.
Loveland Marketing Director, John Sellers, checks his watch in between TV interviews to make sure everything stays on schedule.
Loveland’s opening was highly publicized: the Rocky Mountain News, Fox 31, News4, KCMV Radio, Colorado Daily, and RSN were all on hand to record an epic beginning.
Loveland lifties hold back skiers and riders eager for first chair. At 8:28 A.M., Loveland Ski Area opened to the public for the 2008-09 winter season, making them the first ski resort in the country to open (and beating A-Basin to the punch by two minutes). While standing at the bottom of the mountain and watching the first chairs go up, including a boarder with a sign that said “Vote for Obama” and “Snowboarders for Obama,” a Loveland employee remarked to the crowd around, “Yeah, this is the democratic ski area, Palin’s on the other side”.
Brent Meyer, Jeff Meyer, and Nate Dogggg break through the paper and officially start Loveland’s 2008-09 ski season. These guys have been on the first chair of the season in North America every year for 13 years – so how do they do it? “”We just watch the depth everywhere, keep track of the temperature, and how fast the snowmaking is going. Then we just get on scene and get ready. We have waited for 8 days before.”
The line of skiers which formed during the wee hours of the morning is finally let through the gates and onto the lift. News crews tried to capture every ounce of excitement that they could.
Though the surrounding mountains remain bare, about 50 people dug out their ski gear that was stashed away for summertime and took on the mountain at 8:30 A.M.
The skiers and riders at Loveland got plenty of air time today as news crews and journalists swarmed around the base area to get footage of the first ones headed down the mountain. The first person down the run remarked, “Oh man, that was a nice run.”
Loveland’s Opening Day wasn’t just for shredding the man-made gnar-pow; it also became a platform for First Amendment rights.
The first turns alternated between icy patches and powdery goodness.
A sunny day, new snow, and big air combined for a perfect moment for this rider.
The SkiNet crew, along with a Skiing Magazine internist, gets the perspective of the First Chair Champions, who have claimed this annual crowning achievement for the last 13 years via research on snow depth, temperatures, and snowmaking. As for the guy with the Obama sign: “He’s our political activist.”
A crew from Fox 31 surrounds the guys who claimed first chair this year. “These are the best conditions we have seen on an opening day in 13 years, except for that one day seven years ago when there was a foot of powder,” they explained.
The strong high-country sun softened the snow after the initial early morning runs.
Loveland’s parking lot had plenty of spaces left early in the morning, which made those looking for short liftlines and more skiing time very happy.
A skier deboards the chairlift and starts a much-anticipated run.
Against the backdrop of a desolate (by our standards) mountainside, skiers eagerly start down their first run of the season.
A rider gets his money’s worth on opening day. Rider Elliot Rosenberg from Steamboat raved, “It’s glorious that it’s open this time of year. Though obviously not possibly without them guns.”
Luke Corbitt from Littleton called in “late” to work today to partake in the Opening Day festivities.
Skiers and boarders fuel up at the Life Water tent at the base of Loveland.
The story from the Loveland lift operators paints a crazy week of opening day rumors and teasers. “I called on Monday to see if they were opening this week and as of Monday, it was a no-go. Then yesterday they called us in at noon for safety training and said we were opening Wednesday,” explained Mark Lecero, a third-year liftie from Georgetown.
Derek Pappas (left) and and Kevin Lawrence catch some sun in between runs. “This will be a stellar, epic, big winter,” remarked Lawrence.
A sunny, warm, and inviting day made Loveland’s opening a great experience. Commented Colleen True, Director of Human Resources at Loveland, “It’s really cool to be a part of a team, a family like this one. To see everyone on staff, the lifties, the snowmakers, the office guys, the patrol, all come together. They battled Mother Nature’s challenges to open today.”
Among the trends this year: bright colors and sleek accessories. And one-pieces.
This skier can’t help but smile on his first run of the season.
Clockwise from left, snowmakers Brandon Bell, Sammi Watt, Aaron Townsend, Bobby Babeon, and Geoffrey McCoy celebrate a job well done after working 12-hour shifts over the past two weeks to get the mountain open for the season.
SkiNet Correspondent Beth Jahnigen grabs a well-deserved burger at the tent for ski gear manufacturer Head.
Head Skis representative Russ Maygar grills burgers for the RSN crew at the base. According to Loveland officials, this was the best opening day weather in years. Translation: perfect for apres-beers and burgers under the sun. In the words of Russ, “What’s better than burgers, beer, and Loveland??!!”
An empty chair makes its way down the mountain to pick up more skiers and riders for their first runs of the season. As for the battle with neighbor Arapahoe Basin, Colleen True (Director of Human Resources at Loveland) summed up it best: “It’s definitely friendly, diplomatic rivalry; we are all a family. But it was definitely a push to open today… They started running the guns on October 7 and decided to open just yesterday, so it sure was quick. But I am so proud of everybody to have all come together.”