Snow is falling, and ski season is about a month away for parts of the US. If you are anything like me, you’ve placed bets against your friends on who will win the race to open. With ever changing weather patterns and new enhancements to snowmaking, choosing a winner can be a tough call. However, did you know that only 4 resorts have won the title of “first to open in the US” in the past 10 seasons? If you are looking to place your bet on a previous winner, here are your options (in order of most recent win):
You might not expect a ski area with an average annual snowfall of 50 inches to appear on this list, but Wild Mountain is a consistent competitor in the race to open. Wild Mountain most recently took the prize last year for the 22/23 season when they opened on October 18. This was their second win in the past decade after winning the 20/21 season. Their earliest opening ever was on October 7 in 2012.
Wolf Creek is a competitor each year mainly due to their high natural snowfall at about 430 inches each year. While they do have minimal snowmaking at the base, it’s their huge October storms that allow them to open early. They consistently open with hundreds of acres available, often way more acreage than any other resort in October. Wolf Creek has won twice in the past 10 seasons, with the most recent win in 21/22 on October 16.
Being the first to open is a fun achievement for many ski areas, but things are a bit more serious at Arapahoe Basin. A-Basin treats opening day more like the Hunger Games than friendly competition, as it’s their personal mission to be the first to open and last to close in Colorado every season. A-Basin’s last win was in the 19/20 season, when they made the rapid decision to open for a few hours on October 11 to ensure Keystone lost the race. A-Basin has 5 total wins over the past decade, making them the record holder for most wins in recent memory.
Of these 4 ski areas, Killington is the only resort to not have multiple wins. Although Killington is consistently the first to open on the East Coast, they only won this title for the entire US in the 15/16 season. They opened on October 18 that year, but they’ve had a few opening days on October 1 back in the 90s. Although they haven’t seen an October opening since the 19/20 season, it would be foolish to dismiss them from the betting pool.
Who are you placing your bet on for this season? Are you choosing a previous winner or a dark horse? Either way, it’s time to get your gear ready!