Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. employee Brian Crowe touches up a sign Tuesday at the entrance to Gondola Square.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. employee Brian Crowe touches up a sign Tuesday at the entrance to Gondola Square.

Skiers hit Colorado slopes

A-Basin, Loveland open; Steamboat finishing summer projects

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If you go

What: Winter Sports Club's Ski and Sport Swap

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs Middle School, 39610 Amethyst Drive

More info: The Early Bird Sale on Friday requires a $5 entry fee. Call 879-0695, ext. 100.

— Skiers and snowboarders eager for their first taste of the season can head to Arapahoe Basin and Loveland starting today.

Both have 18-inch bases and will share the title of the first U.S. ski areas to open for 2008-09, the Rocky Mountain News reported Tuesday. But mountain lovers waiting to tackle Steamboat Ski Area's runs must sit tight until Nov. 26, when the resort is scheduled to open.

Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. is finishing its summer projects, spokesman Mike Lane said Tuesday. The company spent more than $1 million on snowmaking system improvements, bought new grooming equipment, expanded the Meadows parking lot and revamped its rental ski fleet, among other projects, a news release stated.

The resort is finishing its beetlekill mitigation and logging, Lane said, and putting finishing touches on the snowmaking work.

Although many of those changes will slip under visitors' radar, the base area has changed since last season.

A roundabout was built at Apres Ski Way and Mount Werner Circle this summer. Ski Time Square has been demolished, though the Tugboat Grill & Pub is slated to be open this winter. The construction has not affected the businesses of Torian Plum Plaza, which include restaurants Cafe Diva, Slopeside Grill and Saketumi, along with several shops.

Intrawest, Ski Corp.'s parent company, is advertising vacation deals in what might be a tough economic climate for ski towns.

For example, Steamboat visitors who book early can get four nights and a three-day lift ticket for as little as $302, according to Intrawest. Steamboat's Central Reservations handles those packages. The company also has a deal with American Express to provide $25 baggage vouchers for visitors.

But some folks just can't wait.

Arapahoe Basin will open its Exhibition chairlift at 9 a.m. today, and Loveland will set its Chair 1 in motion, the Rocky Mountain News reported. Both resorts will have just one run open.

In Steamboat, locals can get squared away for the season at this weekend's Ski and Sport Swap. The Winter Sports Club event includes few changes from last year's, Special Events Director Caroline Bohlmann said.

"We have a lot of vendors coming, more vendors than ever, but really it's pretty much the same that it has been," Bohlmann said. The event does start 30 minutes earlier Friday, at 7:30 p.m., she said.

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