A-Basin scores earliest opening yet | AspenTimes.com

A-Basin scores earliest opening yet

Kimberly Nicoletti
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
First chair at Arapahoe Basin went to Breckenridge residents from left, Jeff Meyer, Trailer Tom and Nate Dogggg as they broke through a banner to help kick off the 2007-08 ski season on Wednesday. A-Basin was the first ski resort in the country to open. (Mark Fox/Summit Daily News)

ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colo. ” Both Breckenridge resident Jeff Meyer and Arapahoe Basin have a bit of a competitive streak. Neither of them were going to miss out on first chair of the season.

For A-Basin, Wednesday, Oct. 10 was its earliest opening ever. For Meyer and his two friends, Trailer Tom and Nate Dogggg, it was simply the 13th season they earned the right to ride the first chair.

A-Basin had been making snow since Sept. 24 and hoped to open this coming weekend. But last weekend’s temperatures created the perfect conditions to blow snow from 8 a.m. Saturday through Monday morning, said Leigh Hierholzer, A-Basin spokesperson. The work paid off, with news media, including Fox and Channel 2, covering the event and a parking lot full of skiers and riders headed toward Exhibition Lift.

As the lift lines grew, Meyer took interviews with the media, talking about how he and his two friends stayed up all night so as not to “camp out” at the base of Exhibition chair. They drank Go Fast energy drink to stay awake so that no one could accuse them of camping, which is prohibited in the Early Riser lot and on the mountain.

Over the years, the group has camped out at Loveland, which used to be the first to open before A-Basin started making snow, for up to seven nights. Meyer said most people respect their mission to claim first chair, so they don’t have to fight for it, but if they have to stand up for their right, they will.

“We’re not passive about it,” Meyer said. “We’re serious about it. If someone tries to get first chair, I say, ‘I didn’t sleep on the dirt for nothing.'”

Meanwhile, some people just aren’t ready for the ski season to start. Skate skier Chris Polster showed up to the Basin in his shorts, a T-shirt, flip flops and a camera. He came alone, just to get a picture of his feet – and some people were nice enough to get a shot of him – on the snow to send back to his friends in San Diego. His caption will read: “Not quite ready.”

“It’s a little early for me,” Polster said. “This California boy doesn’t feel comfy when his feet are in captivity.”

But everyone else was quite “stoked” to place their feet in “captivity.” Even though the lines reached well past the maze and one narrow run, High Noon, was open, the atmosphere was party-like.

“This is the coolest thing ever,” Jeff Kepler said, while his buddy, Jeff Busse agreed that the wait was definitely worth the ride.

Susan Domain, a student at University of Colorado in Boulder, skipped classes to ride the two rails open on the skier’s right side of the mountain. She admitted the snow was a little icy, but still gave it a “pretty good” rating. As skiers and riders waited in line, the sun beat down.

“It cracks me up – it’s 60 degrees and we’re skiing,” said Ryan Burke, who drove up from Denver – without skier traffic – to make turns.

A-Basin logged in more than 1,000 skier visits Wednesday, the majority being season pass holders, Hierholzer said.

As people swarmed the mountain, John Sellers, spokesperson from Loveland, stood back and watched. Loveland still holds the honor of the earliest opening ever – Sept. 30, 1951 – prior to snowmaking capabilities. Sellers said Loveland doesn’t have a set date to open, but it could be this weekend. Last year it opened Oct. 14. A-Basin hopes to open Ramrod in the next week or so, Hierholzer said.

“They say it’s a million dollars worth of free advertising to be the first in the country to open, so we think it’s great for A-Basin, and it’s great for Colorado because people see it nationwide and it makes us a leader,” Meyer said.

As for Meyer, he’ll hang out in the terrain park at Echo Mountain and ride once Breckenridge opens, but said, “I don’t like to get rad until January, because it’s just too dangerous.”

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