Copper Mountain opens today with skiing to the base area.

Courtesy photo

Copper Mountain opens today with skiing to the base area.

Copper Mountain opens today

Locals have first chance to use Intrawest's new Ultimate Pass

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— Those who splurged on a Rocky Mountain Ultimate Pass bought themselves 26 extra days of skiing this season. Those days begin today with the opening of Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Summit County.

Skiers and snowboarders with an Ultimate Pass will also have an opportunity to ski Winter Park before the Nov. 21 opening of Steamboat Ski Area. Winter Park's opening day is Nov. 14. Both Copper and Winter Park will remain open until April 13, 2008, while the Steamboat resort closes April 6.

"I think it's going to be full of Steamboat people," Ski Haus employee Andrew Bernitt said Thursday of Copper's opening day - which Bernitt plans to attend.

"It's exciting that we're part of another group of mountains instead of being on our own," he said.

Intrawest purchased Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. in March, bringing the resort under the same corporate umbrella as Copper Mountain and Winter Park. A pass providing unlimited access to all three resorts was $50 more than a Steamboat-only season pass.

"Even if you only go two times, you get your money's worth," Bernitt said, adding that he has been to Copper before but will use his pass to visit Winter Park for the first time.

Copper would not officially release snow conditions Thursday, but spokeswoman Lauren Pelletreau said the resort would be reporting an 18-inch base today. Today's forecast is mostly sunny with a high of 42 degrees, according to www.weather.com.

"The snow looks great," Pelletreau said. "Over the course of the last few weeks, we've had nearly two feet of snow."

Three trails served by two lifts will be open this weekend, in addition to the Eagle Jib Park at the top of the American Eagle lift, which features 10 boxes, rails and other features.

"For people who spend all day in the terrain park, that's probably where they'll be on opening weekend," said Pelletreau, who expects a large crowd today. "We normally have a line of people waiting for the first chair."

Neither Pelletreau nor Ski Corp. spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen would divulge how many Ultimate Passes Intrawest has sold, except to say that it has been a very popular product.

"It's brand new; it's unique," Thomsen said.

Thomsen said she is excited about all the new visitors the Ultimate Pass will bring to Steamboat, especially considering the record $16 million in on-mountain improvements Ski Corp. has in store for this season.

"A lot of people are thinking about Steamboat for the first time now," Pelletreau said.

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