The Monday opening of many of Colorado’s resorts isn’t so unprecedented after all: The snow has been in the ground since at least February.
But ski officials are hoping for more. They need the benefit of a long winter so they can build what they hope will be another big year.
The season started out so well for Colorado’s resorts. By late February, the snow was sliding down mountains, and media and customers from outside the state began to drift in. Ski areas from Colorado and Wyoming to Utah and New Mexico were filled to capacity with eager vacationers.
“No question, we were happy with this first season that came out of the gate,” said Burt Pellerin, chief executive of Winter Park Resort. “But there’s a lot of skiing still to be done and we really need this next two months to get us over the hump.”
Last year, when the snow hit on the last weekend of February, resorts in Colorado generally were just starting to hire ski instructors. This year, around a quarter of the seasonal employees were hired before the holiday shopping season began, Mr. Pellerin said.
Winter Park Resort was the first to open. Aspen Skiing Company opened on Feb. 23, Coeur d’Alene Resort on Feb. 27 and Telluride Ski Resort on March 3.
The lift speed record, at 10 mph, was set on Sunday at Keystone Resort. Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort broke its 100-year-old daily lift ticket sales record on Sunday, according to the Colorado Ski Country USA trade group.
Resorts are confident in the season because of increasing snowpack. Last year, the snowpack in the state was 90 percent of normal, compared with about 80 percent this year.
During the first 11 days of the season, hotels in the Western Front were fully booked, which is unusual for this time of year, said Julia Hanson, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association.