“The ski area is closed,” said Telluride Ski and Golf CEO Dave Riley.
“We are not just suggesting that people don’t go up there, it’s closed,” he emphasized.
As crews work to prepare trails and lifts ready for opening day, dangerous obstacles exist: from fan guns to high-pressure hoses, electrical cables, winch cats with cable run-outs of up to a mile, snow cats, snowmobiles, avalanche control and explosives.
“We are working hard to prepare the mountain, but it is not ready for skiers and boarders yet,” said Elizabeth Howe, vice president of operations for TSG.
“This is a great start for the ski season,” continued Howe, “but with heavy on-mountain operations and variable early-season snow coverage, it is risky to ski and/or snowboard out there right now. Also, there are no ski patrol services on the mountain at this time.”
Ski country saw its first fatality last weekend, in Snowbird, when record-holding pro skier Jamie Pierre triggered an avalanche that killed him on Sunday, Nov. 13 while snowboarding with a friend.
Pierre’s friend was not injured; officials say the duo carried no avalanche equipment, had ignored resort signage warning against skiing, and should not have been on the slopes.
A Telluride Ski Area avalanche slid Tuesday about six feet above a ski patroller who was doing control work on Gold Hill. The patroller was able to self-arrest, and avoided being buried or swept up in the slide that went over the cliffs on Dynamo.
Thanks to early-season snowfall, which has left the mountain looking especially enticing to snowriders, “We’re a little ahead,” said Riley, both with natural snow and with artificial snowmaking.
“It’s going to lead to a great opening week,” he said. The resort has not yet announced which runs and trails will be open, and Riley declined to be any more specific in a conversation by phone on Wednesday. “A week makes a huge difference,” he pointed out.
Teamwork From TSSC and TSG
Telski donates 100 percent of the revenue it receives on First Tracks Wednesday to the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club. “We don’t turn anyone away because of financial reasons,” said TSSC Executive Director Justin Chandler. “Over the last 10 years, not a single child has been turned away from TSSC because they couldn’t afford to join.”
This year, the number of TSSC applicants requesting financial assistance has more than doubled.
“We want every child who wishes to join TSSC to do so, regardless of their family’s financial situation,” said Chandler. “Providing Donation Day for us really says a lot about the ski resort and the importance it places on the youth of this community.” Chandler went on to express his and the organization’s gratitude to TSG for its hosting the annual fundraiser.
“TSSC is a great organization and has developed some excellent athletes over the years,” said TSG’s Riley, and “Telluride Ski and Golf is pleased to support Donation Day.
In addition to First Tracks Wednesday, the ski resort works closely with TSSC to prepare racing and training venues, and to help the club secure all levels of competition in a wide variety of disciplines. This year, TSSC and TSG will host more than 30 days of competitive events, ranging from snowboard racing to slope style skiing and riding, ski racing and bump competitions, regional qualifying events, national and international competitions, and NorAm and World Cup events. “Telluride Ski and Golf values our partnership with TSSC,” said TSG’s Howe. “This is an amazing community. We love to support the club, and to provide opportunities to the young skiers and snowboarders in town. Plus, we can’t thank TSSC enough for what they do for the World Cup event. They organize all the volunteers, and definitely help us do as much as we do with them.”
Lifts will run 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on First Tracks Wednesday, with free coffee, donuts, and hot cocoa for all skiers and snowboarders. Tickets can be purchased at the Mountain Village ticket office at the base of Lift 4. For more information, call 970/728-6163, ext. 11. For updates, visit tellurideskiresort.com and sign up for snow reports via email.