Ski season begins at A-Basin, skiers line up for ‘First Chair’

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LIVE WEBCAM: Check out the ski conditions at Arapahoe Basin

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- The four inches of new snow in the high country were a welcome sign for those who made the trek up I-70 for the start of ski season at Arapahoe Basin Wednesday.

There were about 30 people in line at 5:30 a.m. A man who calls himself Nate Dogggg was one of them and part of a group called “First Chair” that lines up early at the gates of the first ski area to open its lifts every year.

It’s a tradition that has gone on for 17 years and began at Wolf Creek Pass in Pagosa Springs a year ago.

“We got smiles on our faces,” said Dogggg, who had been at A-Basin since 9 a.m. on Tuesday. “This year is the first that we’ve had a group try to challenge us. There have been about 25 people behind us in line since about 2 a.m. Wednesday.”

Arapahoe Basin won the friendly contest between nearby ski area Loveland for the title of “First Ski Area to Open” in Summit County. It’s a battle A-Basin has now won for the third straight year.

Officials at the ski area say they’ll have one lift open Wednesday with about an 18-inch base of snow.

Other ski resorts are gearing up for the season as well, with Beaver Creek hoping to start making snow in the coming days. Loveland has already begun that process, as have several other ski areas – including Keystone and Copper – after a lackluster ski season a year ago.

That bad season has fueled snow-making innovations, allowing ski areas to use the latest techniques, strategies and equipment to lay down the initial base that will anchor ski runs for the coming months.