Loveland opens; ‘you’ve got to ski’ | AspenTimes.com

Loveland opens; ‘you’ve got to ski’

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Mike "Gags" Gagliardi, of Golden, snowboards down Home Run Tuesday with a beer on Loveland Ski Area's opening day. Gagliardi says he always has a beer during his first run of the season. (Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily)

GEORGETOWN, Colo. ” Mike Zimmer, of Vernal, Utah, drove five hours to ski opening day at Loveland Ski Area.

Zimmer grew up in nearby Georgetown and has been skiing here since he was five years old.

He refuses to wait for Park City to open.

“Ah shoot, that’s still two, three weeks away,” Zimmer said.

Opening day loyalists like Zimmer enjoyed the good snow, shining sun and fewer people on Loveland Ski Area’s wide, sole run Tuesday morning. Loveland was the second resort to open this year. Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 11, the earliest in the nation.

Loveland’s run was a combination of a short catwalk and the runs Mambo and Home Run. The 1,365 ski area had an 18-inch base that had been topped with more than a foot of snow (groomed for opening day) from Saturday’s storm.

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The rest was manmade snow, which Loveland has been making for three weeks, said spokeswoman Kathryn Johnson.

“It’s fantastic,” said Eric Rutishauser, of Golden. “It’s soft and pretty.”

The snow was good for carving and there were plenty of natural jumps on the run for snowboarder Mike “Gags” Gagliardi, of Golden.

In addition to hitting jumps on the run, snowboarders and skiers were sliding on a 10-foot-long, 2-and-a-half-foot-high box on one side of the run.

But every opening day has its own flavor ” Gagliardi drank a beer as he cruised down his first run.

“That’s how I’ve rolled the last like probably ten out of 15, 16 years here,” Gagliardi said.

People used to pass out glasses of champagne to skiers waiting in the lift line on Loveland’s opening day, Carol Wedgwood said.

“Times have changed,” said Wedgwood, a ski instructor at Vail.

This year, Wedgwood was enjoying her time off before she begins giving lessons, she said.

“We love Vail, but Loveland opens in October,” Wedgwood said. “So that’s the allure.”

Free parking, being able to bring her own lunch and not having to walk far to the ski lifts make Loveland a great place to ski, she said.

Rutishauser comes to opening day to get the wind in his face and sit on the lift with his friends. And, “The feeling of skiing is like nothing else,” he said.

His friend, John Paul, comes for the chicken fried steak and mash potatoes at Loveland’s cafeteria.

It also snowed a lot, he said.

“I heard that frozen water was falling from the sky like duck feathers and I was down in the city missing it all,” Paul said.

Opening day was one of many days skiing for Paul Meisburger, of Dillon. He already has skied a couple days at Arapahoe Basin and plans to go a total of 150 days this season, he said.

“That’s working full-time, too,” he said.

David Wedgwood summed up the feeling of skiers and snowboarders.

“It’s the first day of the season,” he said. “You’ve got to ski.”