Vail’s opening day delay not a surprise | AspenTimes.com

Vail’s opening day delay not a surprise

John LaConte
Vail Daily

VAIL — As parts of the state approached record high temperatures on Tuesday, Vail Resorts announced Vail Mountain's opening would be pushed back by one week.

Targeting Friday, Nov. 25 as an opening date for Vail, a news release from Vail Resorts said Beaver Creek's opening is still on for Wednesday, Nov. 23, and Keystone will open on Vail's originally scheduled opening day of Friday, Nov. 18. Copper Mountain is also scheduled to open on Friday, Nov. 18, and Breckenridge will open on Saturday, Nov. 19.

Vail reached temperatures in the mid-60s on Tuesday, and downvalley in the town of Eagle, thermometers were showing temps above 70. Vail skier David Ruttum spend the day on his bike, in shorts and a short sleeved shirt.

"I'm not worried about it yet," he said of the weather. "If it gets to be December and there's still no snow, then I'll worry. But for now what am I going to do, sit at home and wish for snow?"

Vail skier Cesar Hermosillo has spent the last few Opening Day Eves camping out near Chair 8 in Vail. He said this year, he had already planned on heading out to Keystone instead of Vail this week, even before hearing Tuesday's announcement.

"I was pretty sure there would be no way Vail could open on Friday," Hermosillo said. "I grew up here so I've seen it before; it will snow. They're already saying there could be snow on the way yet this week."

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COMPARE TO 2007-08 SEASON

Thursday's forecast calls for snow and the colder temperatures necessary for making snow. Vail Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot said the shift in weather pattern will assist with snowmaking efforts; Jarnot compared the current conditions what we saw in the early part of the 2007-2008 season.

"The resort went on to receive more than 100 inches of snow by Dec. 12, (2007)," Jarnot said, "contributing to a well-above-average snow year."

In the early season, Lionshead businesses often see more walk-ins when the resort opens with man-made snow on Born Free, a Lionshead run. Lionshead ski shop operator Jay Lucas said while the lack of snow makes him a little nervous, it hasn't gotten to the point where his bottom line is affected.

"Reservations are still good around the holidays," Lucas said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens in December and with Birds of Prey at the end of November, but so far I'm not too worried about it … I've been here 28 years and I have seen the hill open late one or two times before."

WHAT ABOUT THE WORLD CUP?

Following the announcement from Vail Resorts, the Vail Valley Foundation issued their own statement about the Birds of Prey World Cup ski racing event, scheduled from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4.

"Despite unseasonably warm temps in the Rockies this November, the Audi Birds of Prey World Cup race week is currently planned to continue as normal," the statement read. "We will have more detail after snow-control day on Friday, Nov. 18."

In order for a World Cup race to take place, a positive snow control report must be issued by the International Ski Federation. Snow control reports are generally undertaken 10 days before a competition, but the International Ski Federation can postpone the control days to give local organizing committees the maximum amount of time to prepare the slope while still being able to guarantee an event, Jenny Wiedeke with the International Ski Federation said Tuesday.

"Such postponements normally depend on weather forecasts, snow making ability, etc.," Wiedeke added.

The snow control for the Lake Louise men's World Cup, scheduled for Nov. 26-27, is currently facing such a postponement, and a final decision is there is expected for some time Wednesday, Nov. 16, the International Ski Federation said on Tuesday.

A women's World Cup in Killington, Vermont, is also scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 26-27. The International Ski Federation said on Monday that Killington's official snow control is also scheduled for Nov. 18, and with more than 75 percent of the slope covered, organizers are optimistic the races there will take place as scheduled.

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