Prepare your legs: Next ski season a long one |

Prepare your legs: Next ski season a long one

Once the snow flies this fall, local skiers and snowboarders will enjoy one of the longest seasons ever at Aspen Mountain and Snowmass Ski Area.

On the other hand, the season will be shorter than usual at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.

Ajax and Snowmass will open Nov. 20. That’s slightly earlier than normal.

And skiers and riders will get up to two weeks of extra turns at the end of the season. The season isn’t scheduled to end at Aspen Mountain or Snowmass until April 23.

That creates a ski season of 154 days. The only time that number has been exceeded in the 1990s was when abundant snow allowed earlier openings or later closings than scheduled.

“We’ve never had a scheduled date that late and we’ve never had a scheduled opening that early,” said Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello.

The opening and closing dates are a product of holidays. For the last three seasons, the Skico has opened Ajax and Snowmass on the weekend before Thanksgiving. In 1999, that falls a few days earlier than in the last three seasons.

Closing at Ajax and Snowmass is determined by Easter, which falls later than normal next spring.

Last season was 141 days long at Snowmass and 148 days at Ajax. They kicked off at the same time but Aspen Mountain stayed open one week longer.

The already short seasons at Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands will be even shorter in 1999-2000, according to the schedule in Skico’s media kit.

They don’t open until Dec. 20, the weekend before Christmas. And they close April 2 – creating a season only 112 days long. The 1994-95 season was only one day longer, but usually the season lasts longer into April.

The shorter seasons at Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk have occurred since Highlands was folded into the Skico via a merger in 1992. Abello said demand drops in early April, so it doesn’t make sense to keep all four mountains open.

Closing Buttermilk and Highlands helps the Skico hold down operational costs.

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