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Skiers and snowboarders take first turns of the season at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s opening day

Cody Jones
Summit Daily
From left: Nate "Nate Dogggg" Nadler, Tom "Trailer Tom" Miller, Chad Otterstrom and Anthony "Ant" Ugalde celebrate as they ride the first chair on the Black Mountain Express lift at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on opening day Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

ARAPAHOE BASIN — The 2022-23 ski and ride season has descended upon Summit County. There may have only been one lift and ski run open for Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s opening day on Sunday, but that did not hinder guest’s stoke for the start of the season.

Despite the Black Mountain Express not opening until 8:30 a.m., around a hundred people had already packed the lift line corrals, eager to be on one of the first chairs of the Colorado ski season.

People from all over the county and the state had been up since the wee hours of Sunday morning. In the case of Breckenridge’s Nate “Nate Dogggg” Nadler and his crew made up of Tom “Trailer Tom” Miller, Anthony “Ant” Ugalde and Chad Otterstrom, the group had been at the base of A-Basin since Thursday.



“We got here Thursday, before they announced,” Nadler said. “We kind of just know what’s going on and we’ve held it down since then.”

While sleeping in the car — or the ground for Nadler — the group solidified their spot for first chair, a feat that Nadler and Miller have claimed for over 20 ski seasons in North America.




“I always grew up wanting people to look up to me,” Nadler said of his motivation to claim the first chair in North America every year. “I think people are looking up to me. No. 2 reason is that everyone else in this country skis behind me. All the millions and billions of skiers every year that Colorado gets, the world gets, skis right behind us.”

Prior to heading up on the first chair, Nadler shared his hopes for his first few turns of the season.

“Everybody’s issue is that they get too excited and go too fast,” Nadler said. “They think it’s the last day of the season. You’ve got to remember to come out, take your time, get your feet under you, feel it and then start charging. It’s getting your body feeling good before the true season.”

Right behind Nadler and his crew was Darren “Disco Darren” Droge and friends from the Front Range. They started the drive to the mountain around 2 a.m. then stood in line since 3:30 a.m., five hours before the lifts would begin to churn.

Like Nadler, they hoped to have a fun day on the mountain while spreading good vibes through the blaring of ​​psychedelic rock songs like Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”

Those that did not get up super early were forced to wait in the inevitable lift and ticket window lines. Although at times it seemed like the lines were barely moving, guests remained in good spirits with help from A-Basin’s renowned Bloody Mary. 

Once everyone had found their way through the line and were at the top of the intermediate High Noon run, it was nothing but smiles and jubilation to the bottom. Snow flurries fell on the mountain for most of the day as skiers and riders soaked it all in.

Despite A-Basin seeing very little natural snow prior to Sunday, guests didn’t have much to complain about in terms of the quality of snow on High Noon. It was icy in parts, but High Noon also had a fair amount of soft and powdery snow and an 18-inch base. The biggest challenge for guests on opening day was giving other people enough space to make turns in order to avoid any major collisions.

With A-Basin’s opening day for the 2022-23 season complete, the ski area will now operate seven days a week for the remainder of its 76th season. The ski area will continue to make snow around the mountain until the end of December.

As of now, uphill access will remain closed and a terrain park has not been put out for the season. A-Basin hopes to continue to have the “longest ski season in Colorado” by staying open until June. To purchase lift tickets in advance and check conditions, visit ArapahoeBasin.com.

cjones@summitdaily.com

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