Snowstorm boosts spirits, phone calls |

Snowstorm boosts spirits, phone calls

The Denver Broncos were only 3-7 going into last night’s game, but the team has never been so beloved in Colorado ski country.

When the Broncos play before a national television audience while it’s snowing, it causes the phones to start ringing at the resorts. That’s exactly what Aspen Skiing Co. officials were anticipating before last night’s Broncos game against the Raiders.

“This storm couldn’t come at a better time, not just for Aspen-Snowmass but for all of Colorado,” said Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello. “It’s truly made-to-order.”

Ski country officials were banking on the game coverage getting the word out nationally about the snowstorm that hit the mountains and Denver. They hoped it would spur people to book their ski vacations in the next few days.

The great expectations were created by a 1984 Monday night game that the Broncos played against the Green Bay Packers in a blizzard. Ski resort operators said the phones rang off the hook for days after that game.

“We’re going to keep the phones going during the Broncos game, just in case,” said Aspen Central Reservations President Bill Tomcich. Normally ACR quits answering calls at 6 p.m. He said word of snow in the Rockies had obviously spread across the nation Monday because the number of phone calls to the reservations center had increased throughout the day.

There wasn’t much snow on the field Monday night and only a few flakes fell during the first half of the game, but it was obvious that winter had hit Denver.

Regardless of whether the Broncos game spurs calls, winter’s belated debut was cause for celebration in Aspen and other ski towns. As of about 5 p.m. last night, the Skico had tallied up 10 inches of fresh snow on top of Aspen Mountain and a foot on the Big Burn at Snowmass.

The storm guaranteed that the Skico will be able to open at least some slopes on Thanksgiving Day. Little Nell will open on Aspen Mountain while Fanny Hill and possibly Coney Glade will open at Snowmass, said Mike Kaplan, vice president of operations.

It will take a couple more storms like this one to get more slopes open, he said.

The snowstorm created “a double whammy of positives,” said Kaplan. Along with the snow came colder temperatures that will allow the Skico to make more snow.

The Skico doubled its output of man-made snow last Thursday at Snowmass when temperatures plummeted. Crews used 3 million gallons of water while continuously making snow for 20 hours, Kaplan said. Up to that point, all snowmaking efforts there had used 1.6 million gallons of water, he said.

With temperatures expected to drop to single digits Monday night, Skico crews were prepared to blow snow as long as possible.

Any dose of winter – snow or cold temperatures – often gives reservations a boost. ACR’s Tomcich noted that the cold snap on the East Coast last week produced a flurry of telephones calls to his office.

Skico officials reported that call volume has increased throughout November to their advance sales ticket office. The company is offering discounted, multiday tickets until Dec. 1.

The Skico wasn’t the only resort operator hoping for a boost Monday. Vail Resorts sent out a press release Monday noting that Vail and Beaver Creek received nearly a foot of new snow while Keystone and Breckenridge received about six inches.

Beaver Creek is hosting four men’s World Cup ski races starting today. The resort will host a slalom, giant slalom, downhill and super-G race.

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