Breckenridge Opening: Pancakes and powder

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Skiers flocked to Breckenridge today for opening day, enjoying four runs with three operating lifts, soft snow, clear skies and temps in the 50s.

The day began as any good day should: with free pancakes. The pancake/waffle breakfast at the Bergenhof, at the bottom of the Colorado chair, started early: Steve Harris was there at 6:30 a.m., getting the food ready for the eager crowd.

"It's a great way to start out the year," he said, serving up another batch of pancakes and waffles ready for the people in line.

By 8:45, the lift line was packed from front to back.

Breck -- the fifth Colorado resort to open this season -- has three greens and one blue slope open on Peak 8, with a base depth of 18 inches, and the first riders to come down enjoyed the groomed runs and near-perfect early season snow conditions. During the day, explosives could be heard farther up the mountain, as the ski patrol did avalanche control.

I rode up the lift with John Cutrinio, who summed up the conditions: "The skiing is fucking awesome."

As part of the promotion for opening weekend, Breckenridge is offering free parking at the gondola lot through Sunday, making logistics a lot easier. With the lifts turning as fast as they were, the slopes were never lacking in skiers and boarders, creating a feeling of impressive traffic near the base. The terrain park was jumping too: I watched skiers fly off the triple jump and ride rails near the bottom before accelerating back towards the main slope.

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