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Step aside Arapahoe Basin and Loveland. The winner of the race to open this season is Andes Tower Hills in Minnesota.
The ski area began snowmaking early yesterday morning when the temperatures dropped into the 20s. A video on social media teased a possible opening today, October 18th.
An Instagram post yesterday confirmed today’s opening—1 pm to 6 pm. The Turtle Express magic carpet will be running, offering 14 feet of vert on one run.
The ski area in the middle of farm country Minnesota first opened in 1980 and has since served over one million skiers. It has 15 trails on varying terrain, from beginner to black runs, as well as terrain park features.
Elsewhere in the midwest, Wild Mountain, MN, and Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreation Area have both started snowmaking.
Copper Mountain was the first resort in North America to begin snowmaking on October 4th; Killington, VT, started on October 8th, and both Arapahoe Basin, CO, and Keystone Resort, CO, on October 9th. Vail Mountain started on October 13th, Wild Mountain, MN, on October 16th, and Trollhaugen, WI, and Andes Tower Hills on October 17th.
Typically, it’s a brawl between Colorado’s A-Basin and Loveland to see who starts the ski season off for North America, both resorts battling for bragging rights.
From 1982 through 2001, Loveland was the first to open ten times, and Keystone was the first ten times. However, 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 2018, 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.
Here is a list of the first resorts to open over the last ten years or so:
- 22/23: Andes Tower Hills, MN – October 18th
- 21/22: Wolf Creek, Colorado – October 16th
- 20/21: Wild Mountain, Minnesota – October 19th
- 19/20: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 11th
- 18/19: Wolf Creek, Colorado – October 13th
- 17/18: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 13th
- 16/17: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 21st
- 15/16: Killington, Vermont – October 18th
- 14/15: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 17th
- 13/14: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado – October 13th
- 12/13: Wild Mountain, Minnesota – October 18th
- 11/12: Wolf Creek, Colorado – October 11th
- 10/11: Sunday River, Maine – October 23rd
- 09/10: Loveland, Colorado – October 6th
- 08/09: Loveland, Colorado – October 7th
See you on the slopes very shortly.