Loveland Ski Area’s Opening Day generates joy among visitors, staff

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After a Stay-at-Home order, wildfires and public land closures, skiers and snowboarders could hardly contain their excitement to return to the slopes when Loveland Ski Area opened for the 2020-21 season on Nov. 11.

“This is my backyard,” Idaho Springs resident Cass Hadaway said as he arrived on Opening Day. “I’m ready to get up there.”

Daniel Huskey, also of Idaho Springs, said not being able to snowboard for eight months was miserable. Thus, for someone who typically rides 60 to 70 days each season, being first-day tired was a welcome experience.

Huskey expressed his gratitude and admiration for the staff members who made it possible, saying they were doing an excellent job of ensuring everyone’s health and safety.

Fellow snowboarder Dave Milewski felt similarly, saying, “They’re making it work. If people are cautious, everything will be fine.”

The former Idaho Springs resident, who now lives in Loveland, explained that he retired to snowboard.

While he’d already ridden at Keystone and Arapahoe Basin earlier in the week, when he heard Loveland — his home mountain — was opening for the season, he was overjoyed. He donned his custom “Snow Buddha” Colorado Eagles jersey and arrived at the Loveland Basin parking lot before the lift opened at 9 a.m.

“It’s always hard to sleep before Opening Day,” Milewski said, adding that he’s had the first chair at Loveland before.

Moreover, Milewski said he was grateful for the moisture, describing how it was raining ash on his home a few months ago.

He advised: “Think snow.”

Employees welcome the normalcy

Ski instructors Ken and Marlene Ladouceur said it was three days shy of eight months since Loveland Ski Area closed.

“Losing last spring was the hardest part,” Ken said. “We had to stop cold turkey, and the conditions last spring were so good.”

The Golden couple did at least four runs on their day off from teaching at the ski school. Marlene, a former Clear Creek High School teacher, said her first run felt kind of funny, but that’s typical after such a long break.

Overall, the experience was extremely positive, the Ladouceurs said. The run off Chet’s Dream was nice, the weather was perfect, and the die-hards who shared the slopes were respectful and delightful to watch.

“It feels so good to be out again,” Ken said.

The couple said the staff members were doing an excellent job enforcing health and safety protocols. Ken described how he’d absentmindedly left his nose uncovered while waiting in the lift line, and a staff member warned him both nose and mouth needed to be covered.

Keeping everyone safe is critical because Colorado relies so much on ski areas for its economy and without them, people will be out of jobs, Marlene explained.

Meanwhile, Eileen Cosby was excited to be back at work in the Loveland Basin shop. For the Clear Creek resident, it’s been a very long summer.

First, because she’s a spring skier, she couldn’t hit the slopes at all last season. Then, Loveland didn’t reopen until last week, which is the latest Opening Day Cosby’s seen in 15 years working at the ski area.

“It’s fabulous to be back,” she continued. “It’s something normal.”

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