DENVER (AP) – Arapahoe Basin let skiers and snowboarders carve turns in man-made snow on a ski run and terrain park Friday, winning the public relations battle to open the nation’s ski season.

Loveland ski area, Arapahoe Basin’s neighbor along the Continental Divide 70 miles west of Denver, had been the first to open for continuous operation the past six years.

“We have wanted this title for a very long time and we’re excited to see it finally come to fruition,” said Alan Henceroth, the general manager at A-Basin.

For $43 for an adult lift ticket, snowriders were offered the High Noon Run, which has 1,200 vertical feet and access to the terrain park favored by snowboarders. The area warned of early season conditions and a base of just 18 inches.

“This has been a race up until the very last hour,” said Rob Perlman, president of Colorado Ski Country USA, the industry’s trade group in the nation’s most-visited ski state. The new season was eagerly awaited after Colorado set a record last year with 12.53 million skier visits.

A-Basin, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, only entered the race to be the first to open in 2002, when it added snowmaking. Last year it lost to Loveland by one day.

Loveland planned to open on Saturday.

On the Net:

AP-ES-10-13-06 1330EDT

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