Aspen skiers pray for encore to last season |

Aspen skiers pray for encore to last season

Scott CondonThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN Christy Sauer was among scores of locals picking up a season ski pass at the base of Aspen Mountain Wednesday. She ran into a bunch of friends all of whom were stoked for the start of ski season today.Everyone was saying See you (Thursday), she said.Sure, theres a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Aspen and Snowmass this winter because of the nations ailing economy. The Aspen Skiing Co. anticipates that lift ticket sales to destination skiers customers who travel from out of state for an overnight trip will drop anywhere from 5 to 15 percent.But the doom and gloom isnt souring locals anticipation for the season or expectations for stellar conditions.Pass sales were ahead of last seasons clip by a healthy margin during the early-bird period, when discounts were greatest, Skico officials said. The pace has slacked off since then, so pass sales overall are about the same as last season.The fun of being in a ski town is the giddiness of not knowing whats going to come, Sauer said after picking up her season pass. Everyone learned their lesson last year when the ski slopes were brown at Thanksgiving, but the snow started falling soon after and rarely stopped until spring, she said. There were 38 powder days in January and February alone. Memories of all that powder still dance in skiers heads.My fingers are crossed because so far its shaping up like last season, said Tom Egan, another Aspen resident who is ready to put his pass to use Thanksgiving Day.He is confident the snow will come and conditions will be fine. If it matches last season the best ever, in my opinion then all the better, he said.Im probably easier to please than most, Egan said. He likes the whole package that skiing provides peaceful rides up the chairlifts, visiting with friends and turns on the slopes.While projections for lower occupancies in Aspen and Snowmass lodges translate into fewer people on the slopes, no one appears to be looking at it selfishly with glee. Aspen skiers and riders are used to uncrowded slopes at the four ski local areas, even at the best of times, and they are willing to share.Im in the camp that says were never crowded, Egan said. I like having a few people around. Hes been at Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands on some of their most crowded days ever and still encountered manageable lift lines.Keith Ikeda, a longtime skier at Aspen Mountain, said the number of skiers is never a problem there. He is looking forward to more time on the slopes this season after spending the last three winters in a masters program. The studies prevented him from skiing as often as he wanted. He plans to hit the slopes every weekend this season.May Selby is looking forward to splitting time between downhill skiing at Aspen Mountain and Aspen Highlands, uphilling and skate skiing. Last season was ideal, she said, and she hopes for an encore.The season is definitely a treat for us who live here, Selby said.For now, skiers and riders must be content with a humble opening. The Skico announced it will open 48 acres of skiing served by the Ajax Express lift at the top of Aspen Mountain. The open trails will be 1 & 2 Leaf, Upper Copper, Silver Bell and Deer Park. There will be no top-to-bottom skiing; the Silver Queen Gondola will take riders up and down the hill.Snowmass will open 93 acres of ski terrain served by the Village Express chairlift. Trails will allow skiing from Sams Knob to Fanny Hill.Lift tickets are $69 for adults; $59 for youth ages 13 through 17 and seniors 65 to 69; and $39 for children 7 through 12. Kids six and under ski for

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