OK, we wouldn’t want to tempt fate, but things are looking REALLY good for winter 17-18 right now.
Same time last year, we were all a bit anxious because it was one of warmest Falls for a while. Ski areas that traditionally opened very early in the season (as early as October) had to delay opening. Luckily, it all turned around mid-November, when it started snowing. In some areas like California, the snow hardly stopped and achieved record-breaking totals.
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This year, there’s good news for early-season skiers. Fall has so far been colder and snowier than 2016 and as a result, several high areas in Colorado and Oregon have already opened. These resorts have had the consistent, cold temperatures they need to make enough snow and open early. Snowmaking has also got underway in other states including Arizona and Vermont.
Some hardy skiers have already made their first turns. And for the rest of us waiting for our local mountains to open, we can hardly contain our excitement about the season ahead.
Here are the top 5 ski resorts for early season skiing and snowboarding in North American for 2017-18:
1. Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) is one of the candidates to the longest ski season on EARTH title (excluding ski areas with a permanent snow field or glaciers).
Each Fall, Arapahoe Basin starts from scratch on making snow and usually opens in October. The resort typically stays open through to June or July. So, we’re talking a near-nine-month ski season!
For the 2017-18, A-Basin is already open. The lifts started turning on Friday the 13th of October, no fear.
Other Colorado ski areas that tend to open in late October or the first week of November include Loveland (which is already open for winter 17-18), Wolf Creek (aiming to open on November 3rd) and Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain (all aiming for 10th November).
Altogether that’s at least half-a-dozen Coloradan ski areas open by the second weekend in November!
2. Whistler, BC
Whistler Blackcomb has one of the longest ski seasons in North America, staying open until May and then re-opening for about a month of late-spring/early summer skiing or boarding on its glacier. Whatever the weather conditions turn out to be, Whistler’s glacier terrain makes it one of the most snow-sure destinations in North America.
Its average snowfall figures are quite impressive too (among the top 20 for the whole continent), making it a winning combination. This season’s 2017-18 opening date is Thursday, November 23rd. If there’s good snowfall in early November, the resort may even open ahead of schedule.
3. Timberline, Mt Hood, Oregon
Timberline has a permanent snowfield, which allows it to offer skiing and boarding pretty much year-round, most years. It’s also had some good natural snowfalls this autumn, improving early season conditions. Timberline is where a lot of ski teams go to train out-of-season and there are great terrain park features for freestylers to enjoy too.
4. Lake Louise, Canada
When the world-governing body of ski racing, the FIS (International Ski Federation), look around the planet to find the ski area they can most rely on to stage the first downhill ski races of the season, they always opt for Lake Louise.
Its natural location in a Rocky Mountain snow pocket coupled with its northerly latitude make it the perfect location to stage the first big racers of the World Cup calendar in late November and early December.
This year’s opening day is Friday, November 10th with the Men’s Downhill due later on the 25th and the Women’s a week after on December 1st/2nd.
Laker Louise’s fellow Banff resorts, Norquay and Sunshine, tend to open early November too. Sunshine is tentatively targeting November 3rd as their 17-18 season opening date.
5. Killington, Vermont
Killington has a long-standing reputation for being the first to open in the East each winter (or fall, to be precise), and quite often the last to close in late spring the following year.
Every now and then some other ski area sneaks in a day (or sometimes a few minutes) before, just to claim they were first, but its Killington that has the consistency, over many decades, to always be an early opener.
Things are looking good already this season with the first snowmaking already taking place in mid-October.
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