Arapahoe Basin, Loveland’s 2018-2019 opening days are this weekend

Skiers, many of whom dressed up in costumes, head toward the lift line to take advantage of the last of the snow during the last day of skiing for the 2016-2017 ski season at Loveland Ski Area on May 7, 2017, at Loveland Ski Area. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

Arapahoe Basin will win the spirited sprint to become the first Front Range ski area to open for the season, but only by a ski tip.

A-Basin will open Friday at 9 a.m., and Loveland, its friendly rival on the other side of Loveland Pass, will open Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Wolf Creek, which is 250 miles from the metro area in southwest Colorado, opened last Saturday but will operate only on weekends for the time being.

All three areas got a huge boost from a series of storms that began rolling through Colorado 10 days ago, following an unseasonably warm and dry beginning to autumn. Loveland opened on the same date last season. Arapahoe opened Oct. 13 a year ago.

“With nearly two feet of natural snow, combined with the low temperatures for snowmaking, we’ve been able to create a quality base for Friday’s opening,” said Arapahoe Basin’s chief operating officer Alan Henceroth. “We’re excited to get the ski season started.”

Arapahoe’s Black Mountain Express lift will be in operation, serving the High Noon trail, which is an intermediate run. The rental shop and Arapahoe Sports retail shop will be open and there will be two dining options, the 6th Alley Bar and Grill in the base area and the Black Mountain Lodge at mid-mountain. Ticket window prices will be $85 for adults, $70 for youths 15-18 and $41 for kids 6-14.

As usual on opening day, Loveland will have one run in operation but there will be one huge difference this year. The old Lift 1, a slow triple chair, has been replaced by Loveland’s first high-speed quad chair. It has been named Chet’s Dream in honor of longtime Loveland owner Chet Upham. Upham died in 2008 but his family still owns the ski area.

“This new lift will provide our guests with quicker and more reliable access to some of our most popular terrain,” chief operation officer Rob Goodell said in a news release, “while honoring ski industry pioneer and Loveland patriarch, Chester R. Upham, Jr.”

Walk-up lift tickets will cost $65 for adults, $31 for children.

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