Winter Park starts 80th season with earliest ever opening day (VIDEO) |

Winter Park starts 80th season with earliest ever opening day (VIDEO)

Hundreds woke up early Saturday morning to be some of the first on the slopes at the 80th opening day at Winter Park Resort.

It was Winter Park’s earliest opening ever when the first chair broke through the traditional opening banner at 8:30 a.m. to cheers from employees and visitors alike.

Marketing manager Jessica Galioto-Grebe experienced her fourth opening day at the resort. She said the early beginning this year made a difference for the crowd.

“I think the energy is different; it’s really vibrant,” Galioto-Grebe said.

The park announced its opening Wednesday and crowds flocked to be part of the historic day.

Tom Graham was one of the first skiers down the hill. It was not the first skiing he’s done this season, but he’s never been one of the first ones down the mountain on opening day before.

“It’s been a great October,” Graham said. “It’s my sixth day skiing. I’m looking forward to an awesome season.”

While Graham had already made a run down the mountain, others waited for their first lift up, including Luke Verrochi, who just moved to Colorado from New York.

“I’m just excited; I haven’t been skiing since last year,” Verrochi said. “I’ve never been to Winter Park.”

Verrochi said he was impressed by the amount of snow and the number of runs available. Skiers and riders had access to fan favorites, including Parkway, Lower Village Way and Sorenson Park in Parkside.

Guests also celebrated opening day with giveaways and $1 Coors Light specials at the Derailer Bar.

“It’s just really exciting,” Galioto-Grebe said. “The 80th year is a milestone for us, so to have an opening that’s the earliest in our history is really monumental.”

Winter Park had targeted a Nov. 13 opening date. While the 40 inches of snow Grand County has seen the past month certainly helped it to open early, the park also credits the historical opening to $4 million in recent updates to its snowmaking system.

“It’s a mix of Mother Nature giving us some love and some new snowmaking system improvements we’ve put in the last couple years,” Galioto-Grebe said.

In the Mary Jane territory, progress is underway on the new Sunnyside Lift, a high-speed six-seater to open this season.

To celebrate the resort’s anniversary, lift tickets will be $40 per person with a minimum of two people Nov. 16.

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