Snowboarder Nate Dogggg, left (in the red jacket), and his friends celebrate being the first ones on the lifts Sunday as Arapahoe Basin Ski area opens for the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
By Austin Briggs
The Denver Post
ARAPAHOE BASIN — The streak of Nate Dogggg lives on.
For the 18th consecutive year, the 36-year-old Breckenridge snowboarder, who declined to give his real name, says he has been the first to catch a chair to the top of a ski lift on Colorado’s opening day.
“We do it for the fans, for those that couldn’t be here, and to build the legend of Nate Dogggg,” said Nate’s friend, Trailer Tom.
After Arapahoe Basin issued a news release late Friday morning saying it would be the first resort in the state to open, Nate, Trailer Tom and two friends showed up about an hour later to camp out for two days under the Black Mountain Lift to secure their spot and legacy at the front of the line.
Their patience paid off when, at about 8:25 a.m. Sunday, the lift opened to cheers, catcalls and a scrum of reporters as the 2013-14 ski and snowboard season kicked off.
Arapahoe Basin officials said they expected 1,000 skiers and snowboarders on the first day.
Under clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid-30s, the line on the one lift serving one run quickly reached 400 people.
“People are so excited,” said Arapahoe Basin marketing director Leigh Hierholzer. “We’re honored to be the first in the state to get the season started.”
In 2009 and 2010, Nate Dogggg was on the first chair at Loveland; in 2011 on the first chair at Wolf Creek; and in 2012 on the first chair at A-Basin, according to news reports.
“I’ll start planning around the middle of summer, just calling people to see who wants to be on TV,” Nate Dogggg said. “I pack all my stuff and the second the press release comes out, I’m out the door.”
Hierholzer said Oct. 18 was slated to be opening day, but cooperative weather helped snowmaking operations lay an 18-inch base and move the date four days earlier than last year’s Oct. 17 opening.
Jenn Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, said a snowy spring ended last season on a high note, and that momentum appears to be carrying over into this year.
“We’re seeing a lot of optimism this year,” Rudolph said. “Members have reported robust season-pass sales, and long-term booking is filling up nicely.”