OPENING DAY: Winter Park Resort braces for big crowds (with video) |

OPENING DAY: Winter Park Resort braces for big crowds (with video)

Crews at Winter Park Resort working hard to prepare for the opening of the resort. The first chair lift takes off at 9:00 a.m. today.
Carl Frey/Winter Park Resort |

The season is upon us, Grand County. Grab your skis and boards, your helmets and goggles because Winter Park Resort is officially open for the winter. Chair lifts fire up at 9 a.m. sharp today, kicking off the 2017-18 season.

The resort will open the Gemini Express, Endeavor, Spirit and Comet lifts, as well as 22 acres of trails including the Sorensen Park, Parkway, Village Way/Upper Park and Porcupine trails. As the weather begins to drop, and snow picks up, the resort will continue to open up new terrain.

“The snowmaking team has done an awesome job, and we’ve been running them for about three weeks now,” said Sky Foulkes, president and COO of Winter Park Resort. “So we’re in pretty good shape. We’d love for it to be colder and to have more snow, but as always, we’ll be in good shape to open.”

New to the mountain this season is the Sober Englishman trail, which crosses the Drunken Frenchman trail and connects the Mary Jane territory to the top of the Zephyr Express.

The resort is also looking forward to the addition of the Crazy Mountain Taproom, which will fully occupy the resort’s village for the first time.

“We’re super excited about that,” said Foulkes. “And sometime in mid-December, we’re going to be doing a grand celebration, just to celebrate being fully leased out and all the new stuff.”

The perks of opening day

For opening day, Winter Park Resort will be offering free beanies to the first 100 people in line, and will also be offering $1 drink specials at Derailer Bar for anyone who uses #GoBeyondWP on social media. Winter Park also announced that Mary Jane Ale will be available in the valley for the first time starting today at Bottle Pass Liquors and Riverside Spirits.

The ale will arrive at Rocky Mountain Moonshine and Winter Park Wine and Spirits on Nov. 16.

While Foulkes anticipates his first opening day as president, he’s also reflecting on what makes Winter Park Resort special, its responsibility in the community and what it could be doing better.

“I’m trying to get out and meet as many people as possible, and more importantly to just listen and understand what’s important, what we do well, what we don’t and what we could be doing better in the community,” said Foulkes. “I think we need to make sure that all of us are involved in the future planning of the respective community.

“There’s an authenticity here; that’s one of the things that reverberates time and again.”

Foulkes admitted that some ski resorts have lost a little bit of that, but the authentic vibe that exists in the community and “at the resort is something that I think is super cool and I we’re all doing our best to keep that in mind as things evolve and change.”

In the end, Foulkes believes that the success of Winter Park will always be built around the diversity and vastness of the resort.

“There are other resorts that are bigger than us from a terrain standpoint, but I’m not sure too many have quite the variety of terrain that we have. Which is pretty unique.”

Whether it’s the bumps and trees on the Jane, the high alpine of the bowl in the Cirque, or down on the park side, Foulkes said people will never get bored at Winter Park Resort.

“If you do, I think you’d just hang up your skis or board, because there’s a ton to do,” he said.

What people like best at Winter Park Resort

Tony Duddleson: I’m more of a snowmobiler than a skier, but I still ski. I think my favorite part of the resort is actually when it closes and we can go ride our snowmobiles on it. During the week it’s always nice and quiet.

Garrett Cunningham: I really like Rail Yard, Dog Patch, and the Cirque. All that is good. I go out searching for snow and those are my favorite parts. I also like the new Lime restaurant in the village. They’ve got good margaritas.

Richard Koller: I enjoy the downhill. I’m pretty much a recreational skier, and I’m getting a little old to do the bumps. But I find great enjoyment and serenity in just sliding down the hill.

Jesse Beeson: We lived up here since 1983. Mary Jane is my favorite. I really love the snow the bumps, the trees and the cliffs. And of course Goody’s is my favorite place.

Colleen Veasey: My favorite part of the resort is obviously the riding, but the trees are what I stick to the most on the mountain. I really like do-or-die trees. In terms of the village Goody’s has some good breakfast, the crepes there. Lime is always a great place to grab a margarita. I have a lot of friends who work at Doc’s so I always end up there too.

Gale Delphia: We have a business up there, Trails end Mercantile. That’s one of our stores so it’s always fun to get the ski season going because then the fun starts. I’m not a big skier, but my husband is and he’s super excited. for the season.

Sean Stecher: I just think Winter Park Resort is a great place to come visit. There’s plenty of shopping, stores and food. I think people really enjoy themselves there.

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