Three resorts across the country already have the snowguns blazing, making snow in preparation for as early an opening as mother nature allows, with four more getting the guns ready.
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe in Nevada was the first to officially begin making snow over the weekend, and Arapahoe Basin and Keystone in Colorado both started yesterday. Killington, VT had their guns out blowing but emphasized on Facebook that it was for testing purposes only. A-Basin’s Colorado neighbors Loveland and Copper Mountain have also been testing their guns in anticipation of starting snowmaking Wednesday into Thursday, as has Boreal, CA.
It is the first time in 20-years that Keystone has tied with A-Basin in the race to make snow. The Vail Resorts owned ski area invested millions of dollars this summer in a new snowmaking system it hopes will change the early season dynamic on the Front Range. Keystone aims to get back in the running with Arapahoe Basin and Loveland to become the first Colorado ski area to open for the season.
“I think the race to open is a lot of fun,” said Alan Henceroth, Arapahoe Basin’s chief operating officer. “It’s always good to be open. The reality for us is that the very biggest race is the race within ourselves to be ready, to be poised to have our equipment in top working order and to take advantage of every single minute of good snowmaking weather.”
Last season Wolf Creek, further south in Colorado, won the ‘race to open’, beating both A-Basin and Loveland. Keystone hasn’t won the #RaceToOpen since 1997 and hasn’t even opened in October since 2001.
From 1982 through 2001, Loveland was first to open 10 times and Keystone was first 10 times, although three of Keystone’s wins were photo finishes when both areas opened on the same day and Keystone used its lights to open before sunrise, getting a jump on Loveland by two or three hours in the quest for bragging rights, according to the Denver Post. Then in 2002, Arapahoe Basin installed snowmaking equipment. From 2003 through last year, Arapahoe Basin was the first Front Range area to open nine times, Loveland was first five times and they tied twice. Wolf Creek, a small area 250 miles from Denver in southern Colorado, actually beat both of them four times since 2011, thanks to ample early natural snowfall.