SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Excitement, optimism, and gratitude marked the first day of skiing at Keystone Resort.
A small group of die-hards arrived two days early to get in line.
"It wouldn't be opening day without Nate Dog and Trailer Tom here to announce it," said regular first-chair rider Nate Dogggg.
As dawn broke, more skiiers and snowboarders began arriving, but all wore masks and tried to maintain distance from each other. With rising cases of COVID-19 in Summit County, resorts are doing everything they can to separate crowds.
"We are re-imagining all components of the mountain experience — the lifts, gondolas, dining, and ski school will look different," said Loryn Roberson, communications manager for Keystone Resort.
Keystone and the other Vail Resorts have also launched a new reservations system. Only pass holders will be able to book reservations until Dec. 8. After that day, lift tickets can be reserved. Breckenridge is set to open Nov. 13 to pass holders, followed by Vail on Nov. 20.
Skiiers and snowboarders at Keystone Friday said they believe skiing is a safe activity despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are rising.
"You have to wear masks anyway when you're snowboarding," said Keystone visitor Brian Paolillo. "We’re excited just to get out."
Another visitor, Rob Decker, said he was surprised to see the resort was open top to bottom on Friday morning.
"So, I'm excited for that," said Rob Decker.
Keystone was able to open more terrain thanks to 50 new snow guns that can detect when temperatures drop low enough to make snow.
"We are opening from top to bottom — Schoolmarm, Silver Spoons, Last Chance. You can start from top of the mountains and ski down into River Run Village," said Roberson.
Long runs, and hope, for a long season.