Sunlight prepared to shine on opening day |

Sunlight prepared to shine on opening day

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Jim Noelker

SUNLIGHT ” Lift operators-in-training were taking turns loading chairs and riding Sunlight’s Tercero lift Thursday, while workers moved picnic tables into position on the ski area’s giant lodge deck, and ski techs unloaded skis and snowboards from a truck into Sunlight’s rental shop.

It’s almost time.

Wednesday, Nov. 26, Sunlight Mountain Resort officially opens for the 2003-04 season.

“We’re excited,” said Turi Nevin-Turkel, Sunlight’s marketing director. “We’ve got a good solid base and we’re ready to go.”

Sunlight’s staff aren’t the only ones looking forward to skiing and boarding.

“We’re above last year in passholder sales,” Nevin-Turkel said of locals who purchased season passes.

As of Thursday afternoon, Sunlight’s base ” 16 inches at the top of the mountain ” wasn’t as good as this time last year. In 2002, early snows allowed Sunlight to open for the weekends two weeks ahead of schedule.

Even still, Nevin-Turkel was looking forward to opening day. Forecasts from the National Weather Service seem to be in Sunlight’s favor. Snow showers are expected in the Glenwood Springs area Friday night, Saturday and Sunday ” and cold temperatures, too, which make for excellent snowmaking conditions.

“We’ve had a warm fall,” she said of Western Slope’s unseasonably high temperatures. “All the snow we have we received in the past two weeks. ‘The Farmer’s Almanac’ is saying that this is going to be a decent winter because a less moist fall means a more moist winter.”

Even though much looks the same at Sunlight, Nevin-Turkel said there are a lot of changes to report.

At the top of the list are three updated glade areas that have been cleaned up and widened.

Mid-mountain, the Tony Casanova Glades, which opened last year, are now in prime condition for the beginning of the season, and Zephyr Glades and Upper Glades have also been spruced up.

On the skier’s left side of the mountain, Charlie’s Glades will offer intermediate skiers some good tree skiing.

Nevin-Turkel said the resort’s new ticketing software should offer skiers and boarders shorter lines at the ticket windows and at the lifts.

“We’re streamlining a lot of our procedures,” she said.

A new 10-day photo pass, for example, will eliminate the need for passholders to get a daily validation.

“Now, they can go straight to the lift,” said Nevin-Turkel.

Also new is a more sophisticated scanning system that lift staff will use to track customers. With the new system, information on each Sunlight visitor can be monitored, eventually including where skiers and boarders are from, and how many vertical feet they might ski or ride on a specific day ” or season.

“We’ll be scanning passes and tickets every time you ride the lifts,” she said. “So people should be prepared to have their passes out and available.”

To assist in that, Sunlight is providing carabiners to passholders so passes can be clipped to the outside of ski jackets or pants.

Prices changed this year for children age 5 and under, and adults over 69. Previously, people in those age groups skied or rode for free, picking up a daily ticket at the ticket window. This year, they’ll pay a one-time fee of $25 for a picture pass good for the entire season.

“They won’t have to stand in line at the ticket window,” Nevin-Turkel said. “They can get right on the lift with their pass.”

Jeremy Wussow, Sunlight’s terrain park supervisor, said Sunlight might just hold a record this year for the longest rail ” the metal bars that snowboarders and skiers jump onto and ride.

“Our new rainbow rail is 48 feet long,” Wussow said. “It’s one of the longest in the state.”

Besides the new rail, Sunlight has three terrain parks that are up and ready for action. One park near Gibson Glades officially opened last year, but wasn’t promoted much, said Wussow. He thinks the park’s natural log features should get a lot of visitors this year.

The other two parks, at the top of the Tercero lift and on the lower half of the mountain, have some new snow and steel features.

“We’ve got a spine jump that looks kind of like an elongated pyramid,” Wussow said. “It’s a big hit. And we’re planning some new sidewalls ” weather permitting ” that we’ll make out of snow.”

Although the terrain parks appeal to the younger shred set, people of all ages can be found goofing around on the rails or carving out turns on the sidewalls.

“Tom Jankovsky, our mountain manager, loves the parks,” said Wussow with a grin.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

Sunlight Mountain Resort opens for the season on Wednesday, Nov. 26. Early season ticket prices: $28 for adults and teens, $22 for children 6-12 and under, $22 for seniors 60-69.

Information: 945-7491,

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